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Monday, April 15, 2024
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HomeNewsWhen it comes to bullying, civil servants put Raab to shame

When it comes to bullying, civil servants put Raab to shame

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A COUPLE of weeks ago Prince Harry, a fifth Dan in the soft-power art of Fur Kyū, stopped off in Britain to recharge his profile, give his hard-earned medals a photo opportunity, and sharpen up his soft skills. The big story, according to insiders, is that Harry paid a visit to rebel civil servants who were celebrating their latest victory in the war on Britain. The rebel group are an autocratic elite who, like Harry, just want to live off public money but expect it to be duty-free.

Small wonder that they see Harry as a figurehead. Civil servants are much crueller to the public than Dominic Raab was to them, and they don’t get sacked.

Raab was dismissed because his style of leadership was Churchillian, critics claimed. Investigators heard that, at ministry after ministry, Raab raised his voice (as did Churchill to officers) when asking if his staff could do their homework to a higher standard. On one occasion, he complained that the formatting of documents needed to be better and he asked staff to check for spelling errors. His fate was sealed.

What if the boot was on the other foot? What if you made a minor error on a minor form to support your passport application? Would the civil servants show you compassion or make you start all over again?

You know the answer. These ‘remote’ servants will put your application on hold, and if you persist in asking questions they will report you. Once you have jumped through more hoops for them, they will ask you to get your passport application countersigned by a witness. Every mistake you make in the process means you must ask for a new form, which they’ve turned into a three-person process so that a blank form takes two weeks to arrive.

If you have unsteady hands because of, say, chemotherapy treatment, they won’t show you any sympathy for the most minor mistake. No discretion or mercy is applied to you for having cancer and being handicapped by the effects of chemotherapy, or having a tight deadline because of a short life expectancy. I don’t think anyone accused Raab of bullying on that scale of low cunning and unpleasantness.

Maybe life would be better for the public if Raab had worked at the Passport Office.

The biggest contrast between Raab’s hard bullying and the civil servant’s soft torture can be found at the Department for Work and Pensions. There are 2.2million claimants for a Personal Independence Plan, which is payable to people with conditions such as cancer which restrict your ability to wash yourself, prepare meals and get in and out of bed. To prevent fraud, you have to fill in the form by hand. We don’t have the luxury of using a computer, like those poor, poor men who were told to format their documents better by nasty Raab.

These forms take an age to fill out. They ask for all sorts of detailed information they’ll never need, from personal documents it takes many searches to find, with enough volume to fill a 40-page book.

Covid provided the contrary civil servants with the excuse to work from home. The Post Openers and Document Scanners all stayed home where post can’t be opened and documents can’t be scanned (though pay can be despatched). So the good staff had no idea whose applications had been received. All because their colleagues didn’t turn up.

So one lazy man from IT (the call centre staff said) anonymously printed off a letter telling everyone to start all over again because ‘your document has not been received’. How cruel is that? Tens of thousands of people across the UK had to drop everything or they’d lose their allowance. Then they had to phone the DWP for a new form, which involves a 45-minute waiting time and wasting another half day. All because some lazy job-hater threw our old documents in the bin.

Chucking entire caseloads of immigration applications in the bin, to meet deadlines, is another civil service trick. If you don’t believe me, I can tell you which bins to check. Imagine having waited years and taken the legitimate route to enter Britain. Then having your life put on hold, in Croydon, and all because a civil servant can’t be arsed.

Is that as cruel as Raab?

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Nick Booth
Nick Booth
Nick Booth is a freelance writer.

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