It’s important to note that when GMLAW were approached by the DWP a year ago, to provide Universal Credit services like the ones that the Citizen’s Advice Bureau have now agreed for £51 million, they publicly rebuked the DWP saying ‘We Will Not Be Complicit’. That is what an organisation with integrity does. I have now heard more from within the advice/welfare rights sector, people are aghast at this, sober moderate professionals are appalled, and further, some had an inkling and have been ’consciously uncoupling’ themselves and any services from CAB for a while. Make no mistake, this is a historic betrayal that is not business as usual and is not ‘okay’. The executives and board of CAB have catastrophically sabotaged their organisation’s independence and reputation in return for medium term financial security (and quite frankly, given what they are expected to provide, they sold themselves cheap). Some obvious questions and further information have emerged:
1. Rumours began up to 3 years ago CAB were in preliminary talks with DWP about ‘something’.
2. The CAB contract is not just help, they are basically contracting to provide UC services and they are doing it more cheaply than DWP would have had to do it for. This is essentially the third sector contracting to provide state services on the cheap (and tax free). It is privatisation. It is virtually impossible to do what they appear to be going to do and not play a role in sanctioning people.
3. The senior staff are trying to hide their delight as it secures their jobs through to 2023.
4. It was released on Monday to boost Esther McVey’s speech at the Tory conference. Key sector personnel had advance warning only the night before!
5. Pilots of CAB provision of DWP UC rollout will begin within 4–8 weeks.
6. When it all crashes, and it will, CAB are too greedy/stupid to realise the govt will lay blame on them.
7. CAB are happy as they have money, what they fear is Reputational Damage. Their brand has immense value, if it is sullied by this, it will hurt them. Thus that should be any campaigns focus- To damage the CAB brand, do them reputational damage.
8. The integrity of their independent advice service?
9. Just how directly will CAB be involved in sanctioning people?
10. Will CAB people doing DWP work be paid, will people helping people AGAINST the DWP be paid? Or will paid CAB people doing DWP work be against volunteers doing appeals being paid nothing?
11. Where will they be? Has CAB got capacity to commission new physical infrastructure, will they co-locate with Jobcentreplus? Will claimants need to attend both a DWP/JCP office and a CAB office?
12. Just how long are the govt and Gillian Guy waiting before she gets her CBE upgraded to peerage and DBE/GBE?
13. You need advice to deal with many things, CAB is better than no advice, for all the problems with their leadership it is still worth using them if you need to.
14. Advice links recoveryinthebin.org/advice-links/