“Empowering Engagement” was an expression used by the DWP when it implemented the recommendations of the Elbourne Report (“Review of Older People’s Engagement with Government“). Specifically, that expression was adopted as a catch-phrase as each of the nine English regional Forums were established.
It all sounded, and looked, promising. But, has the rhetoric matched the practice?
Yesterday I posted an article on this site (“Universal Credit / Universal Chaos”) where I expressed grave concern that this government, and the DWP in particular, was not taking any notice of what people – the ‘experts by experience’ – were saying to them.
Overnight, this thought about the DWP (“Deaf on issues about Work and Pensions”?) and its dismissive arrogance as to what people need and what people can actually use in order to improve their lot triggered my memory of the expression “Empowering Engagement” allied to the content of the Elbourne Report.
I ask a simple question: How can there possibly be engagement so far as the government is concerned if the government is not listening? (In which regard, the so-called ‘consultations’, whether national or local, are meaningless of themselves. In a variety of situations, there is an obligation to consult. However, there is no corresponding obligation to take any notice of what that consultation reveals!)
Consultations do not equate with listening.
Engagement does not equate with listening.
Engagement is meaningless unless it is two-sided – a genuine dialogue.
Perhaps the truer reflection of how this government, and the DWP in particular, goes about business would be in a rephrasing to “Empowering Disengagement”.