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.
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.