Job Centre advice a waste of time..

(145 Posts)
mumstonic Mon 03-Dec-12 16:44:19

DP had his 2nd job seekers meeting today to officially sign on after being made redundant. First time he's ever claimed anything in his life. I being unreasonable to think this meeting was rather unproductive and slightly unfair?

This is what he was told to do?..

1)He should disregard his previous work experience and apply for all jobs within a 90 minute journey, his qualifications and experience.

2)Re-write his CV to include the words, trustworthy, hardworking and reliable.

3)Spend 20m minutes listening to an advisor use phrases such as any work is better than no work and with all due respect sir.

4)He must make alternative arrangements for DDs dental brace fitting appointment in favour of attending an interview skills course this afternoon. (DD has been waiting to have her braces for 2 years and I have 2 babies to look after!)

5)He should ebay the family holiday (weekend mini-break to Centrparcs , booked and paid for 6 months ago) as it clashes with his next sign on day. He must then declare the income from said sale as earnings. OR complete a holiday form with the caveat to say he MUST be contactable at all times. If mobile phone service is restricted, he must drive to the nearest signal hotspot and check voicemails at regular intervals. If an interview comes up he must shorten or cancel his holiday.

Failure to co-operate with the above will result in his pittance being withdrawn. AIBU to think this draconian approach is taking the piss? Surely its better all round (for the employer and individual) to focus his efforts in getting a job suited to his qualifications and skills, I know its hard at the moment but really? 20 years paying tax and this is the safety net?

Do you work for the JC Llan?

The venom in your messages is shocking.

AutumnMadness Tue 04-Dec-12 14:54:14

I am probably being very naive here, but I am surprised that with all the suffering and degradation caused by JC practices there has not yet been a class-action law suit against them.

LlanbaubleOnTheTree Tue 04-Dec-12 15:00:25

Wannabe - there is no venom - anger and frustration yes at the incorrect advice given and the enabling "oh they're so bad" attitude that pervades the thread.

I work in social security law - specialising in working age benefits.

I abhor bad service and bad advice - it saddens me that the welfare state and its employees are maligned. I'm equally saddened that people who are in need may not get that help and support or may be put off from seeking it because they experience bad service or they hear 2nd hand stories about something that happened to someone else retold by people who weren't there.

Benefit threads send my blood pressure sky high - I should learn to hide them. I struggle to ignore though as I hate to see people being misadvised. It is human nature for people to want to believe they are in the right ( where would AIBU be without that?) but sometimes realities have to be faced and what you are being told us not what you want to hear.

Civil Servants are vilified on MN - and that's a pity. Like anywhere you will get the jobsworths but the majority I have come across in my work have been committed and empathetic ;(and the other kind have had short shrift from me)

The OP's partner has had some bad advice - I explained into original post. If she PM's me I will explain what the legalities are and advise on how they complain and who to.

Its striking though, that the majority of the responses on this thread, are believing of the crazy crap told in the OP because it is widespread.

And perhaps people will benefit from hearing that their awful treatment wasnt personal to them, but that everyone is demeaned and patronized in the JC.

I just dont think that you can say the OP is "bollocks" (as you put it) because you were not there.

Being unemployed does not make a person less worthy of respect. Nor does it make them stupid. Perhaps JC staff need reminded of that.

drmummmsy Tue 04-Dec-12 15:08:56

It is human nature for people to want to believe they are in the right ( where would AIBU be without that?) but sometimes realities have to be faced and what you are being told us not what you want to hear. i think this is also true in your case! We are telling you things you don't want to hear!

These things did not happen 3rd hand to me, they happened first hand. The Benefit Manager and my local MP are currently dealing with it.

drmummmsy Tue 04-Dec-12 15:12:20

and in order to get people off benefits, they by default, need to get them into jobs so jobseekers absolutely should make it public that services offered by the jobcentre (either getting people off benefits/into jobs - both sides of the same coin) are woefully inadequate

drmummmsy Tue 04-Dec-12 15:13:27

and what wannabe said - we are human beings whether we are actively seeking employment, or actively taking the piss and deserve to be treated with respect either way

drmummmsy Tue 04-Dec-12 15:13:49

phew! feel better after that grin

AutumnMadness Tue 04-Dec-12 15:14:23

LlanbaubleOnTheTree, I am not sure why you are saying that people are telling 2nd hand stories here. Most posters are relating their own personal experiences or those of people who are very close to them - immediate family members. Why are you so keen to discredit these stories? I understand that yes, people often twist reality to justify their own position, but you yourself write that "OP's partner has had some bad advice." Is it ok for a civil servant to give out bad advice? Especially to people who are a priory in a very vulnerable position and are highly dependent on this advice for such basic things as food? Is it ok to give out "bad advice" that robs people of their dignity?

I am sure that you own advice about how to complain is useful, but why do you have to question the integrity of the people who post here or their right to share their stories and obtain psychological support at the same time?

And I do not believe that all civil servants are vilified on MN. There are many split opinions and a great diversity of positions. This is the first civil servant thread I experience that is so uniform in condemnation of the state practices.

drmummmsy Tue 04-Dec-12 15:18:57

oh, and I temped as a civil servant - flexi time, come in late, leave early, and two hour lunches - nice work if you can get it grin

i loved it

garlicbaubles Tue 04-Dec-12 15:33:23

I've just come back from the JCP. This was the handover meeting from my very nice advisor to the commercial firm which will be 'providing' me with the Mandatory Work Activity Programme.

As of yesterday, all ESA recipients with a "12-month prognosis" are required to take part in MWA.

Translation: Everyone whom ATOS has determined too sick to work for a year has to do work-related activity, which is imposed by a private contractor. The contractor has the power to sanction (stop) benefit payments. I will, therefore, be going to meetings with people who have no medical knowledge and limited experience of training, who are being paid to push me into faux work. I will have to tell them all about my humiliating, distressing symptoms because they are the reason I cannot do a normal job. If they tell me to do something, at a certain time, which I can't do - they will stop my benefit. When this stops, my housing benefit will stop too.

I asked my advisor: What happens if someone's supposed to go to an activity and they have a seizure or something? She said they'll be sanctioned. It's the rules.

As an example of how rigid the rules are, she told me about a claimant she saw the other day, who has special needs. The claimant had not understood when they had to sign on. Their money had been stopped because they didn't turn up. Advisor said she had to explain about 15 times, due to claimant's SN. She then had to re-start the claim; the claimant didn't understand why and was very upset. The sanctioned money was gone for ever: my advisor said she no longer has any discretion. They system took this claimant's money away and there's no ability to override it.

As an aside, I picked up some leaflets about the new rules; receptionist asked me if I needed to claim an ancillary benefit, and tried to tell me I couldn't have the leaflets if I wasn't making a claim!

Imagine how the claimant with SN would have got along with that ... sad angry

redskyatnight Tue 04-Dec-12 15:37:12

My main issue (from personal knowledge) is that the Job Centre is overly bureaucratic and the advisors you see seem to be obliged to follow the bureaucracy even when they think it is nonsense.

The requirements are all focused around "doing things" with no one standing back to see if this is actually valid.
For example, in one 2 week period I spent approx 20 hour filling in a (complex) application form. I subsequently got an interview, which also involved making a presentation and sitting online tests. I spent approx 40 hours preparing for this. (I'll say as an aside that I got the job). I sincerely believe that to get a job in my field you need to be this level of focussed.

From the job centre's point of view, all this counted as 1 step towards finding employment. They required me to make 12 steps. Mailing my CV to 12 random companies would have satisfied the job centre - it was unlikely to have got me a job.

garlicbaubles Tue 04-Dec-12 15:38:59

Oh, she also told me they now have more clients on ESA than JSA.

Since the mandatory work programme for jobseekers has been made voluntary (ahem hmm), it's interesting that more people are going on to ESA which still carries a compulsory programme - at great expense to the taxpayer. Also that 'unemployed' figures will go down as the 'sick' count rises.

SlowlorisIncognito Tue 04-Dec-12 15:50:35

It seems like your husband saw a pretty bad advisor. As far as I am aware, the 90 minutes travel only comes into force after a certain amount of time on JSA. I believe you can still specify up to 3 kinds of work you prefer, but you must still apply for however many jobs they tell you to (this may be 8 a fortnight or something similar). However this can include activities such as signing on with agencies, and so on. So, I think the 90 minutes thing is wrong, but he may have to apply for jobs he would not prefer if he cannot find any jobs in his field.

For the CV, I would say, just do it. I had to rewite what I had been told was a perfectly good CV in my first meeting. I think the rewrite made it worse, but it ticked their box, and didn't take too long. Is there nowhere he could slip in the phrase "This shows I am trustworthy, reliable and hardworking" ?

With regards to the last two, I would suggest he rings and speaks to someone else. When I was on JSA, I went on a weeks holiday to tenerife (it had been already booked and paid for several months before I became unemployed). I was not paid for that week, but I was able to do a rapid reclaim, meaning my money was not paid late. Was this option suggested to your husband at all?

Expect to wait several weeks to recieve any money.

However, after the first few meetings, it becomes pretty much a box ticking exercise for five minutes a fortnight until he finds work.

brimfullofasha Tue 04-Dec-12 19:36:18

I don't work for JCP but do support people who are job centre 'customers'. The OP's DH's experience does not sound unusual to me. As has been said JC advisors have no responsibility to help people find work, they are merely there to 'police' people. They also have very little flexibility so my clients who are illierate are required to do similar things to those with a PhD. This system doesn't suit either end of the scale. I spend a lot of time trying to help people jump through the required hoops which means less time is spent giving genuinely useful help to people to help them become more employable.

When people are asked to do 6 or 12 things a week to find a job they have to be 6/12 different things. So they cannot apply for 6 jobs they found on the Internet because looking on the Internet only counts as one thing. So they are required to do things such as 'talk to friends about work' or ask in a shop about a job in order for the JC advisors to tick their boxes. It is incredibly frustrating and is only going to get worse with new sanctioning rules and universal credit.

garlicbaubles Tue 04-Dec-12 20:31:25

they have to be 6/12 different things. So they cannot apply for 6 jobs they found on the Internet because looking on the Internet only counts as one thing.

Insanity!

garlicbaubles Tue 04-Dec-12 20:35:22

I'm struggling to think of how you could even get to 12 'different' things on that basis?

1. Internet job ads
2. Newspaper job ads
3. Trade press job ads
4. Doorstepping
5. Speculative letters
6. Speculative phone calls.

Then what? confused

And how is all this pointless activity supposed to increase a person's employability?

TraceyTrickster Wed 05-Dec-12 08:11:00

I signed on last year for the first time since leaving school (many years ago).

I had to re-write my job seeking spreadsheet onto the (tiny unsuitable) job centre form. Mine was not official and therefore not acceptable!

When I came to sign off, the advisor I saw that day -arrogant 12 year old, told me I should not assume I would start work, despite the contract in hand, as people withdraw jobs at all times and I would probably be back next week. Thankfully he was wrong and I have now moved overseas so hopefully never need to darken their doorstep again.

redskyatnight Wed 05-Dec-12 10:08:29

garlicbaubles you need to be creative.
- setting up an internet job alert is different to looking on the internet
- getting an email of new jobs from a particular job site is different to looking at the job site directly
- looking at a company's website directly even if their vacancies appear on a general website you are currently looking at is different to just looking on an internet job site
- Posting a CV on a job website (even if you "know" no one will look at it) is different to just looking on the internet
- If a job is advertised via the internet and you email the agency advertising it with a mundane question, this counts as a step
- If I say to a mum in the playground at school that I am looking for a job, this counts as "networking"

The point is that thinking up ways to satisfy the job centre's criteria is a waste of time that could be spent actually doing something useful to find a job.

I openly asked my jobcentre advisor if sending my CV to companies wanting qualified forklift truck drivers (I'm not and have no sense of coordination, so this would be a BAD job for me) knowing full well that they would just chuck my CV in the bin counted as a step. She said it did. Truly truly madness.

Mosman Wed 05-Dec-12 10:24:45

Which is all very well if those CVs are going at the JC's expense. My DH was told to do whatever it takes to get a job but that didn't cover them paying his train fare to London for a job interview to secure a job two miles down the road. That was a step too far apparently hmmm

ParsingFancy Wed 05-Dec-12 11:09:23

Is it possible to do a separate JobCentre CV and real CV? Rather than damage your real applications with a CV made rubbish by a JobCentre clerk?

mumstonic Wed 05-Dec-12 13:37:21

The JC send your CV to jobs and companies on your behalf, possibly duplicating your approach to companies which discredits your applications - a sort of spray and pray approach I suppose?!

DP has so far this week taken the following steps:

Registered with 5 online jobs sites and posted CV.
Called 3 agencies and sent CV.
Applied for 1 job via government gateway.
Applied for 1 job via monster
Used linked-in to connect with 2 people in his sector
Called 3 business contacts.
Speculatively called 3 target companies.
Speculatively sent CV to 3 target companies.
Added a status update on facebook telling his 400 friends he was available for work!
Chatted to a few friends asking for leads.

Will this be enough!? He has to make 10 steps each week. Is this too much or two little?

cory Wed 05-Dec-12 13:54:49

Why should the attitude shift though? I have also been in various situations (including hospitals) where there is a sudden thawing of the air when I reveal my academic status, but I've never felt comfortable about it. Why should people treat me with more respect because I have a PhD? Why not be generally respectful of people instead?

drmummmsy Wed 05-Dec-12 13:58:07

exactly cory, I agree

Doingakatereddy Wed 05-Dec-12 14:01:10

OP - I dont have an issue with anything you've written, why you think I should pay tax so that your DH can wait to get a job that suits his 'qualifications & skills' is beyond me.

Sell the holiday or keep in contact or just dont claim JSA.

We're heading to a triple dip recession - your family is not exempt from facing the hardships that we all have to bear

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