Uncertain Futures

I have parted company with my on/off employers for good this time. The circumstances stink, frankly, but I’m not in a position to go into that in any greater depth right now. What I want to talk about today is the nature of the benefits system. I may find I have a lot to say about this as time goes on.

There are two persistent rumours that I’ve heard about jobseeker’s allowance, and I must admit that I had previously mistaken them for facts myself. One is that you must wait seven days before making a claim. The other is that if you leave a job voluntarily, you cannot claim for six months. The truth, according to the Department for Work and Pensions’ own literature is both more complex and more horrible. Bear in mind from the start that whistleblowers have recently confirmed the suspicion among the public that Jobcentre workers are now required to be as obstructive as possible to people who are out of work. So the following is not an idle threat by the DWP. I’ll quote wholesale from the hand leaflet:

“If you chose to leave your job, we’ll ask for the reason why. You need to show that you had a good reason for leaving. Your last employer may be asked to comment on any statement you make.

Jobcentre Plus will make a decision based on a number of things, which nclude whether it was reasonable for you to take the action you did.

If we decide that you left your job without good reason, you will lose your benefit for between 13 and 156 weeks (3 years).”

On the one hand, at least it’s not an automatic six months (although maybe that’s the time they strike off by default). On the other hand, three years!? Note also that you are still expected to claim as soon as you leave. So if you believe the rumours and don’t claim for six months, a six-month sanction could be slapped on you on top of your mistaken self-imposed benefit-free period.

If this wasn’t bad enough, it gets worse:

“If you were dismissed from your job, we’ll ask your last employer for the reasons. You will be able to comment on what they say.

Jobcentre Plus will decide whether you have lost your job because of the way you behaved. If we do decide that this is the case, you will lose your benefit for between 13 and 156 weeks (3 years).”

In other words, the only way to get Jobseeker’s allowance immediately is by getting made redundant. Fan-bloody-tastic. So, as if being in a minimum wage job wasn’t bad enough, if a petty management team sacks you over a minor transgression, you can be left up shit creek without a paddle because the government want to make a show of cutting a benefits bill that never really had any excess to slice. Makes you proud to be British, doesn’t it?

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~ by Scary Rob on 24 September, 2014.

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