Met with a ‘snort of disgust’

From Paul:

Hi guys and gals,

I’m sorry to hear of your bad experiences. If it’s any consolation it certainly helped me to know that I’m not alone. My experience will probably be familiar to you but I’ll tell you anyway.

Having worked for the last 25 years and paid taxes and national insurance for all that time I was forced to leave my job due to my ex partner dumping our two children with me as she was unable to cope. My two girls are 10 and 12 years old and we have been home educating them. As a single parent with two children I naively believed that the “State” would help out until they were old enough to be left alone and I could go out and work again. How wrong I was!

I was intending to claim income support but discovered that the state will only pay that until the children reach the age of 10 so I was forced to claim Job Seekers allowance. this is when the trouble started. Firstly they had to investigate why I left my job, the explanation that I had two children to look after and I could not take them to work with me did not seem sufficient but finally after 5mths of wrangling they have conceded it was a reasonable cause for quitting. Initially I was given leave to look for part time jobs only but now they are trying to force me to take full time jobs. Don’t get me wrong I don’t want to skive but I need to find a part time job I can fit around my children’s educational activities. Unfortunately it takes up all my free time doing all the futile “jobsearch” activities the JS+ have ordered me to do such as doing an online “MyWorkSearch” course which the job centre pays for (I wonder which government minister has a vested interest in that company?!!!). Another problem I have is a trapped nerve in my back which periodically flares up, this limits the work I can do but I have never tried to sign on the sick or use it as an excuse for not working. Anyway yesterday I had to attend an interview at the JS+ with an “advisor”. This person (who I affectionately dubbed “Mrs Hitler”) proceeded to lay the law down to me, refused to answer any of my questions and talked over me whenever I tried to speak. I was asked why I hadn’t applied for any jobs. I tried to explain it was difficult to find a suitable job when I had two kids to look after and also my back was bad at the moment so it was hard to focus on jobsearch due to the excruciating pain, (I had to take 4 ibuprofen tabs just to manage the walk to the jobcentre). This explanation was met with a snort of disgust from the “advisor” who then printed off two vacancy specifications and ordered me to apply for them. One was for a full time job of 45hrs+overtime and the other was a part time driving job which involved HEAVY LIFTING!. When I pointed out that neither of these was suitable I was told I would have to apply for them or lose my benefit. I then tried to ask some questions but was told the interview was over and I must leave. Somehow I kept my temper but I left the interview seething with rage. I have never been treated with such lack of respect and it left me quite shocked.

Anyway I’m now trying to work out what to do next, once the anger subsided I felt like bursting into tears but although I feel pretty desperate I need to be strong for my kids. I’m wondering if I can survive without claiming JSA maybe I could get a little cash in hand job to make up the shortfall. What I’m wondering though, and maybe one of you can advise me, is if the JS+ stop my JSA will that affect my housing benefit, council tax benefit and child tax credit?

The only other thing I can think of to do is going to the Doctor and getting him to sign me on the sick on the grounds of my back problem. I don’t really want to do this but I’m rapidly running out of options.

The irony of the situation is that some of the lawmakers who are forcing this iniquitous system on us are quite legally feathering their own nests at our expense and avoiding paying UK taxes themselves!

Anyway, thanks for listening and if anyone has any advice or similar experiences to share please be in touch.

all the best

Guilty for being pregnant

From ‘K’:

Hey all i totally understand where your coming from. 5 months ago i went to my jobcentre in basildon and spoke to my advisor – i wanted to do a course before that and they refused because it was too expensive. At the time i had a year and a half old baby daughter and my advisor said to me that they would have to think about stopping my claim to benefit because i hadn’t gone for the course i wanted to do but they wouldn’t pay for it. how is that anything to do with me?

Also i told her i was pregnant again and expecting my new baby in May’ I got basically made to feel guilty and bad about falling pregnant again. Now not being funny but if i want to have a baby i will have a baby. So i got that and also was threatened that my money was going to be stopped. how the hell is that support when really single parents aren’t supposed to be forced into work until their child is at least 12 but i would opt for when they are both in full time qualification.

I have another appointment to see this nasty piece of work on the 18th and i will be making it clear to the manager that she has acted unprofessionally and needs to be either put on leave to retrain and learn to respect others. or better still get her sacked. i aint taking this crap – they can’t do what she said she would do with me. It’s ilegal to leave a single mum without any means of feeding her children as well as keeping a roof over their heads. if i don’t get a decent reply and they do nothing i will take it to the higher board advisors. they can not get away with that kinda thing. its disgusting threatning young pregnant women with children.

More bureaucratic madness, more disrespect

From ‘Jason H’:

here’s my little story…

once upon a time i graduated from uni where i remained in london for an extra two years, just about surviving whilst doing further study and gaining more experience..

i moved up to liverpool in september, the city of the unemployed, although things were going fine at the start, cheap living, new sights and work in a gallery, a winter of dis-contempt soon arrived as the city rained every day, the gallery closed for 4months and i realised i would probably have to sign on for housing benefits and job seekers if i didnt want to have to hide from my landlord for ten weeks…. this was where my (many) troubles began,

The first problem began when the housing benefits at the ‘one stop shop’ (a name which is misleading because youre never lucky enough to only go there once) said my proof of rent payment was insufficient (u’d think a tennancy agreement would be sufficient) why? because apparently the amount i pay a week didnt read very well, even though i was only ever getting a set allowance anyway, they wanted me to conatct my landlord and get it rewritten. Fortunately they forgot this issue and two weeks later i received the money anyway.

Then not long after, I receive a letter stating that i had moved address. I hadn’t but  some incompetent put in the wrong address to receive housing benefits, they thought i had left the city to return to kent, with my parents, who i haven’t lived with for over half a decade. So I ring up the number they ever so kindly donated on the letter, only to waste all my credit having been kept in the queue for 15 minutes. I go to the onestop shop again they tell me its nothing to do with them, theyre only a link, i ask for the number that may help me link up with this missing link, however they can’t offer much help, only to suggest i talk to my local signing on office. They also make me wait ten minutes so they can write this on their ’system’. During this I also find out they were sending me mail to a wrong address, because their system automatic location finder thought i lived next door.

Anywayyyyy, I go to the signing on office, a charming little job centre plus at the end of a very steep road surrounded by a morale building empty row of houses. They give me a number, which i have to call myself. Obviously. So i have to top up. I ring them up[ and after a ten to fifteen minute interview they rectify the address(apparently some bozo didnt press the ‘right button’ on the computer system)

….2weeks go by and still no sign of my housing benefits. I ring them up again, wasting more credit. It turns out, wait for it….. they also didnt enter the right button on the computer system!!! This last ’service’ operator had re-wrote it all out and having joked about the last operator not entering this magical button, had then failed to do so themselves. This time they literally didnt press the ‘confirm’ button.

Soon after i went home for christmas i received ANOTHER letter in the post asking if i could confirm the fact that i had moved ‘back to my previous address’…?! I thought maybe this was a second letter from their second mistake, but oh no. Apparently I had moved address….again.

I go down to the one stop shop, AGAIN as advised on the letter,(incidentally my local one stop is a lovely 40min bike ride) again they say its not hteir problem and again they tell me to go to the signing on office. I go to the one in town which is closer, and ask for THAT number again, the ‘worker’, with a hinted stench of alcohol coming out of his mouth breaths down a number for me and writes it down, the poor guy knows it off by heart, becvause by looks of things hes the only one dealing with real people, as all the other employers are sitting down typing. So i ring this number, a woman with an extremely quiet voice ‘fixes’ the problem again, or at least i think, as i cant quite hear her.

Predictably,I still have’t got my money and this week went into the one stop shop, A.G.A.I.N who told me to bring some i.d of my living arrangements, finally! A possible solution!! however it doesnt end there, as they ask for a bill/ tennancy agreement for proof. Knowing that i share accommodation, its clear i have no bill in my name, esp when theyre all inclusive too. The tennancy agreement is no good because its too abstract, remember..?! so i bring in a bank statement, apparently this myt be ok, but of course its harder to prove you live in your actual address when you have forces against you not clicking the ryt button.

The man at the one stop tells me if there’s a problem i will be given another letter, but if there isnt a problem, i simply wont hear from them (we can only hope!)

Oh yeah, and only last week some angry bastard signing me on threatened to cancel my allowance because of…”this stain on your search records slip” How dare i make a mistake!  As he tosses a new one at me I walk off to the sounds of laughter emanating from the fellow ‘workers’ who are leaning against the walls having a chat about some ITV programme from last night.

…and finally, i was cancelled my pay from job seekers because i missed a thirteen week review, even though i’d already had it, a few weeks back, so i had to do a rapid reclaim. The number they gave me was at least a different one this time and the lady was very good in getting me seen the next day. However fortunately i have got a temp job now,its only for a week or so,
which means i can do it all over again in a couple of weeks!!better top up again!

Still i give them credit for one thing, if ever i was encouraged to find work it is from this experience.

‘She doesn’t know anything about benefits!’

From ‘B Turner’:

I was in my Jobcentre and made a complaint about them messing up my claim.  They told me they couldn’t sort it out from their office.

I asked the manager if her deputy couldn’t sort it out.  She laughed and said, ‘she can’t do it – she doesn’t know anything about benefits!’

So why’s she a deputy manager in a jobcentre then?!

How the unemployed people’s money is spent

When The Hackney job centre sent the worker to the working links.

They sent you the training mostly by the computer, which costs £4000 pounds for this self study without the teachers in the dusty , dirty room and dark class room.

You could get one CD form £5 any good a computer shop SO The working Links With many fear they get as the company £ 3995 pounds The PROFIT.

Also other company like the New Metropolitan College.  People are sent to learn english but the teachers they do not speak english.

But in the college many millions spend for the government party and the parties. All money allocated for the immigrant workers is thrown away..

Now is the time to stop to tell the lies about the money used for them. Respect and justice to all workers.

We have to life to life to live to  !!!!

Waiting for 10 weeks

From ‘Pete’:

I have been unemployed for 2 years, my age 56.  I had heard of New Deal and requested many times to be included in New Deal, but they kept fobbing me off.  One day my personal advisor at Hoxton Job Centre got out of bed the wrong side, inspite of me providing jobs I had applied for, plus my voluntary work contribution, he decided to tell me I had not done enough to seek employment, consequently my claim was suspended.  I wrote to Gordon Brown, whereupon an enquiry was held.  The managers of the job centre were amazed that I had not been offered New Deal, their remedy was to send me to working links.

Working Links is a joke within itself.  Once again I was assigned a personal advisor, the first five weeks I was told not to return until my personal advisor had completed his paternity leave.  On completing his paternity leave, I had a complete session with him, we must have sent 15 C.V.s.  The following weeks I was required to report weekly,  generally he was too busy to see me, therefore no conversation was entered into.  Months went by, indeed he made an interview time with me and did not even bother to turn up.  The last time I saw my personal advisor, he wished to see me on a Wednesday, inspite of the fact that my voluntary was on a wednesday, he being well aware of this.  I arrived on time, the personal advisor on the phone talking to friends.  I am called to his attention 30 mins late, whereat he informs me that I have to go the computers and look for jobs.  Once again I inform him that wednesday is my volunteer day and that I am needed there, he insists, I remonstrate.  He then states that he does not have to see me, I walk out to my volunteer work and return to working links after 15.00 hrs, when my volunteer work has finished.

On returning to working links I find they have stopped my benefit.  I speak with the manager, but to no effect.  No one informs me of the process I have to go through thereon.  I wait until my benefit is due, no money, I then sign on at the Hoxton Job Centre.  The length of time to renew one’s claim is from the time of signing on, you are given a date to attend the job centre, my date was one week after the initial telephone call.  After my interview at the job centre, it took eight days to place my claim onto the computer, it takes a further eleven days before they will consider processing my claim.  My claim is to be considered for processing 5h  October, I have been waiting since 28th August.  I believe that 10 weeks is too long for a claim to be recognised and maybe payment issued.

“The shit over there”

From ‘lola’:

I was in Peckham Jobcentre and I overheard one of the staff members describe the clients as “the shit over there”. This is the kind of attitude and mentality some of the Job centre staff have.

‘You don’t look sick – you’re wearing hair gel!’

From ‘notsickenough’:

I went in to get my employment support allowance – I had a doctors note and everything else I needed. The woman at the desk looked at me and said: ‘you don’t look sick – you’re wearing hair gel!’ and refused to give me anything.

I needed the money – my wife’s pregnant. When I said this the staff said, ‘you’re unemployed so why did you let your wife get pregnant?’

Unbelievable – everytime we go they speak to us like this.

From a Hackney claimant

The Manager of the Hackney Jobcentre was overheard on the 30th July telling one of our local unemployed workers who he was dealing with, that if any of his staff are too friendly and helpful with the claimants he gets rid of them.

So helping you and giving you the benefits you are legally entitled to, is not what they are trying to achieve there.

This is the clearest indication yet of the culture of intimidation and lack of respect you can expect to find at the Hackney Jobcentre. This is from the man who hires and fires his staff until he has just the right kind of people working for him, who are going to do their level best to mess you around and catch you out at every possible turn.  If they can kick you off Jobseekers allowance and stop your benefits altogether then that is a good day for them.

In fact knocking people off of Jobseekers allowance for any reason they can find is what they are trying to do.

What are we doing here?

This site has been set up by unemployed workers / claimants to share our gripes and all the nonsense we get at the Jobcentre. With record unemployment people all around the country are dealing with the same shit and getting treated badly on a daily basis. This is a place we can share our stories, work out ways to support, defend one another and develop a united voice.