For the attention of all members at Newton Heath, Peckham and Toxteth jobcentres
The group executive committee (GEC) has been made aware by PCS reps in Merseyside of a decision to allow the BBC to make a three-part documentary on Universal Credit. The three jobcentres chosen are Newton Heath, Peckham and Toxteth.
PCS reps in Liverpool raised legitimate concerns about the filming, particularly around health and safety. In fact, it is our understanding that there have been no volunteers to take part in the filming so far in Toxteth. As a result of raising these concerns, a health and safety risk assessment has taken place with PCS involvement. However, despite this, members continue to have real concerns mainly around staff who do agree to be filmed and potential penalties if they are critical of the DWP.
GEC negotiators raised this issue with senior Universal Credit (UC) management on 30 April, 2019 and asked them if they were aware of the BBC filming at three jobcentres and if so, would they provide a guarantee that there would be no compulsion for staff to take part. Senior UC management admitted that they were aware of this and in doing so gave an absolute guarantee that no member of staff would be compelled to take part in the filming and that the DWP would have access to the film before transmission. This would enable the department to do a final check that no member of staff who did not wish to be filmed was included.
Guidance for members
Sharing the information known to our members has in the past defeated targets for sanctions. Getting information about the real challenges faced by our staff and claimants is not a bad thing. However, members at the three sites should please note that any participation is still covered by the standards of behaviour, and so their concerns about potential disciplinary offences are legitimate. Staff can participate but they should be careful about what they say as civil servants.
The GEC would recommend that any member who is concerned about this should not volunteer as there is no guarantee that they won’t be disciplined. Any concerns around any aspect of the BBC filming at Newton Heath, Peckham and Toxteth jobcentres should email firstname.lastname@example.org