Damning verdict of complaint process
ITV News has obtained details of a complaint made against Jersey's Social Security minister alleging he had called a benefits claimant "a liar and a cheat".
An internal States investigation has decided the minister didn't do anything wrong, but an independent report has criticised the way the government deals with complaints from islanders.
The Transport Minister, the Planning Minister and the Social Security Minister were all singled out for their "inflexible stance" and their "reluctance to accept that mistakes do happen."
Paul Bellas lost his job last year. He received a pay off from his employer, then found temporary work, but needed to claim income support while he looked for a permanent job.
He says Social Security mishandled his claim.
Mr Bellas said: “He called me a cheat, a benefit liar, he called my family cheats and benefit liars in a very agitated tone, also while pointing the finger in temper. I was very taken aback by his behaviour, I was surprised.”
He added: “Social Security need to show some respect to people like me, when we've got hard time ahead of us, we need to be listened to. Also Social Security just doesn’t care, they're not interested in the every day person, all you are is a number.”
We asked the Minister for a response. He refused to comment.
The Chief Minister's Department said in a statement, “It is encouraging that in the findings, the Complaints Board has noted the professionalism and ‘sterling work’ of public sector staff, however, we note the criticism made by the board of Ministers and Departments. The public sector deal with many thousands of applications of each year, and where learning is necessary that does take place. That is precisely what we will do in respect of the recommendations of the complaints board, with a view to improving the process of responding where appropriate.”
“The Chief Minister’s Department investigated a complaint made against the Social Security Minister Senator Francis Le Gresley in accordance with the Ministerial code of conduct. The complaint was not upheld.”