Duncan Smith said the idea came to him when he visited the Westminster McDonalds and he noticed that none of the employee of the month winners were still working there.
“There they were posing in a photo with a McDonalds uniform, a silly hat, and a forced smile” said Duncan Smith. “Obviously the humiliation of it all meant they soon got another job and left. We thought the same concept could work with beneficiaries.”
During the pilot scheme in Harold, changes were made gradually with the local Jobcentre designating one of the queues a “drive-through”, and installing a colourful looking but ultimately unsatisfying children’s playground. Staff were trained to greet beneficiaries with motivational classics such as “if you have time to lean, you have time to clean.”
Simon Delaney, 18, said that on hearing the “if you have time to lean” aphorism, he unthinkingly picked up a Jobcentre staff member’s discarded chocolate wrapper and put it in the bin.
“Before I knew it, all the dole office staff were shouting congratulations as I was lined up against the wall to have my photo taken with an Iain Duncan Smith clown shaking my hand. My photo was instantly printed out, framed, and stuck on the wall” said a visibly traumatised Delaney. “I only popped in to sort out my gran’s heating allowance but I can never go back to that office again. Gran will just have to rely on whiskey and blankets.”
Gerald Thorvold was a victim of a recent lay-off round at a multi-national manufacturing company who popped into the Harold Jobcentre to sign on for jobseeker’s allowance.
“I had barely uttered the words ‘could I have housing benefit with that’ when I had the staff backslapping me and congratulating me on my upselling. My ‘unemployee of the month’ photo was on the wall before I could say ‘minimum wage’.”
While the pilot scheme appears to be meeting Duncan Smith’s aim to humiliate beneficiaries as much as possible, some teething problems emerged. A number of Harold workers started visiting the Jobcentre to use the free wi-fi and crap in the toilets without any intention of becoming a dole office customer.
A defiant Duncan Smith vowed to stamp out such freeloading, saying that he had no doubt that the Coalition’s policies will soon turn those workers into genuine beneficiaries.
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