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.