It’s been a while…

Hello. It’s been a while. Did you miss me? 

I got used to ranting in 140 characters or less. It’s like poetry, it forces you to be succinct, which I find interesting. 

However….

My partner, who once adopted the moniker G-Hi, so will hence be known as such, was made redundant from his job of 7 years. As of the beginning of November he is unemployed. Now, we are totally seeing this as an opportunity. He received a very generous pay-off and was increasingly frustrated with his work (not least as it was being outsourced at a rate of ten to the dozen, which is why he is no longer required despite his customer service skills). 

So, he’s been thinking about a change in direction, what might interest him going forward, which means he’s using the freedom of the pay-off to think about volunteering, networking and gaining new experiences. But, he’s paid into his NI for 15 years non-stop now, and was made redundant from a pretty niche job, so he took his right as a taxpayer to claim Job Seekers Allowance while he does that. 

So there you have it, a smart, educated, professional person who has been unemployed through no fault of their own and without knowing what the future holds, sees fit to access the system that is supposed to benefit us at times of need. 

Signing up seemed straight forward… it was possible to do so online. Although a few of the questions were a little unclear, even for us, not least ‘your marital status’ where ‘living with partner’ was unavailable as an option. Common law marriage was in there (despite not actually being a legal thing in Scotland), but not co-habiting. We moved on. 

A text message was sent to arrange an appointment at the nearest job centre… 45 minutes away. Oh well. Off he went, to meet someone who ‘would not be his normal adviser’. 

His next appointment was the following week. Just to sign on. His first appointment with his actual adviser is yet to occur. In the meantime, we were utilising our shared intelligence and general common sense to think about other routes to improved skills and potential paths to employment. One of which interested G-Hi was working in the Scottish Parliament. So meeting up with an MSP who he used to know as a teenager seemed like a plan. And it was, and the meeting was very positive, and useful, but the timing of it meant he had to rearrange his appointment to sign on. By one day. 

Because of that, his Job Seekers Allowance has been removed for one month. And you know what, that doesn’t change our finances, whatever, don’t give us your money. Except…

Except… he was pro-actively looking to enhance his chances of employment, with an appointment with someone who only has limited availability, so it seemed like re-scheduling signing on was the better option.

Except… he then went and signed on the next day and explained all of this. 

Except… he had no warning that the money would be held back, so if we were reliant on the income, we would be without that minimal amount.

Except… now he has to go through an appeal process, which includes a written notification.

Except… I can’t help thinking, does his not claiming benefit for a month remove him from the ‘numbers claiming benefit’ figures? 

Except… if we weren’t capable and intelligent, would we just accept the ruling, and be discouraged to any further pro-active job searching?

Except… he still has to turn up for his JSA adviser meeting next week, which some might assume you did not (the letter does not make this clear). Failure to attend would result in a further penalty. And so it goes, and so it goes. 

We are less than 3 weeks in to G-Hi’s unemployment, and already I am so angry and disappointed with the system it is untrue. He has to do ’21 steps’ towards job seeking a week. Which seems like a random number, and it turns out 1 job website equals one step. Awesome. And the centralised job search function is easily the most useless job search we have ever seen. The highlight has been the faux spy job vacancy that was posted last week. It was at least something G-Hi felt he could apply for, but then it was removed… 

So, I’m angry right now. I’m angry that my partner was made redundant due to outsourcing to India. I’m angry that his skills aren’t immediately recognised because of the ‘competitive job market’. I’m angry that he is being made to feel like scum signing on. I’m angry that his pro-active measures can’t be acknowledged. I’m angry that I’m angry. But most of all I’m angry that he’s worried the JSA folk will think badly of him at his next appointment because of this penalty. 

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5 thoughts on “It’s been a while…

  1. You are right to be angry, but seriously you (or G-Hi) should never ever ever worry about what JSA staff think. I’m absolutely sure there must be good ones out there, who are genuinely interested in their clients, and who work hard to find jobs for people. But having had to sign on in the past, I have never ever met one or had any inkling that they exist. In fact, a conversation between two spotty youths who I know would have been paid in the mid £20k range (because guess what JSA posts get advertised too) was predicated about what an awful job they had, how awful their clients were, and how a shift supervisor job at a local multiple retailer would be better.

    Good luck to you and G-Hi, and I suggest you get in touch with your local MSP which you well know how to do, and keep him informed of the progress of the appeal.

  2. I well understand your anger,and you have every right to be. Docking him a month for missing his signing day, and going in the next..is ridiculous. I assume his rearranging his appointment, meant him informing them why? In which case its total bollox, they are supposed to make allowances for such things.
    But if you think its bad just now? You aint seen nothing yet. They have been changing the goalposts at a rate of knots,and aint even informing folks until after the event in some cases.
    And as for this new system they have set up for job search? Heap big load of absolute dung!
    And now they will suspend folks benefits if they sneeze the wrong way,almost.
    I hope he gets something soon…Although its damn hard in this climate. Fingers crossed for you.

  3. My job got made redundant on the first of November. (I am trying to remember to use this terminology, not I was made redundant….)

    Financial circumstances meant I couldn’t claim benefit, and I had already had a first interview for another job, so I decided to skip the signing-on process at least until December, since my distinct recollection was that the decompression process of leaving one job is not helped by the stress of a Job Centre. (And my new job starts on the 10th, so I may just skip it altogether. Wishing your partner the very best of luck.)

    Everything you describe about the process suggests I was completely right to avoid it. It was bad eight years ago, the last time I had to sign on.

    I used to show up on time for my appointment, then be kept waiting for twenty minutes: after this happened routinely, I was quarter of an hour late once and was told sternly that this meant I couldn’t sign on now, I would have have a new appointment, my benefit payment would be consequently delayed, and next time I should know to get myself to the Job Centre on time. At the time this seemed ridiculously petty – my guess was that they had been running late that day too and cancelling my appointment meant they could sort of get back on track. But I get the feeling that now they’d just sanction my benefit for two weeks.

  4. Hello: may I inform you that there are ‘real’ people among JCP staff and we deplore the use of inappropriate sanctions done in order to contribute towards (non-existent) targets. We also deplore the mindset of senior management, that demands staff reach these (non-existent) targets or be punished as incompetent.

    May I also point out that the vast majority of staff are nowhere near earning a mid 20K range salary. What you have no doubt seen at some stage is an ad for the Executive Officer role where the pay scale max is around £24,950. As no Government for at least the past 12 years has seen fit to provide progression pay, many staff are still on the lower end of the scale in all front facing jobs.

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