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

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2 Responses

  1. I was in hospital unexpectedly… for two weeks.. during that time my ‘work interview’ was scheduled at the job centre ( i was on incapacity benefit) . When I told them i was afraid I couldn’t make it as I was in hospital…the response was ‘we can’t keep rescheduling it!’… it said.. well, i’m in hospital, i’m sorry, there’s really nothing i can do about it… what benefit did they think I was claiming…there’s a clue there!!!.. unbelievable!!!

  2. Hi –

    My advice would be for you to contact your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau for advice or the Community Legal Service. You should be able to find the details on the internet. CAB is really good, but you have to be determined to get an appointment as waiting times can be long. Let me know if you can’t find the nfo, and I’ll see if I can pointyou in the right direction.

    Also, I am just contacting you as I am doing some research into how the Jobcentre system hinders rather than helps people who are looking for work or unable to work for any reason. The kind of thing you have talked about is exactly the type of experience I would be interested in knowing more about. I was wondering if you would be interested in telling me about your experiences? It would be a really informal chat, and completely confidential.

    If you would be interested, and also if you would like more advice about the CAB, let me know.

    Sal x

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