Wednesday, 3 March 2010

And Now.......For something Completely Different.


Hullo ma wee blog,

Seems like all I'm posting about these days is 153 Sqn. When I started it seemed like a good idea. I never thought for a second it would take up all this time - posting, reading, thinking and posting again. Those guys were busy!

It's a good thing I'm unemployed at the moment........{not}

Yesterday was interesting, in a strange and odd kind of way.

I had been invited - no, tell the truth - I had been sent a letter saying I was 'required' to attend, not a meeting, but 'an interview' with a business manager at the local Job Center Plus offices. They had sent me a letter the week before, but it had arrived the day after my 'required interview', and were frankly disbelieving when I phoned them about two minutes after the letter had dropped into my letterbox. The letter may have said what I was required to do and when but it singularly failed to make any mention of 'why' so I queried this on calling. I said that I didn't think it was a particularly productive means of approach to require people to attend without any indication about why. After all, I had explained, I might want to prepare, or to bring some documents etc with me to help along any discussion of whatever I was being 'required' to discuss. I was given a perfunctory 'Its routine' by way of an explanation in return. Having other things to do, I smiled down the phone and said "Oh, right then." in return and hung up.

I love the smell of bureaucracy in the morning......

Yesterday afternoon then, I was perched on my seat across the table from a business manager as he explained that it was the process when someone had been claiming job seekers allowance benefit for 6 months to hold an interview to investigate why this was the case and to explain the change in the situation that occurred after that time.

He smiled {fool} and said,

"And you ARE still unemployed, aren't you?"

as he sat back in his seat and folded his arms. {smug git}

I smiled back at him and said,

"AM I? Jings, I never noticed....."

This kind of smart reaction was obviously nothing new to him so he started to explain that after 6 months claiming this benefit that it was now a requirement for me to review the kind of jobs I was looking for and to scale down my obviously ridiculous expectations about salary and the like. {He didn't actually say it exactly like that but I'm paraphrasing here and anyway, the tone is accurate.} He went on to say that I now needed to scale back my improbable demands for a decent wage and to be open to applying for any and all vacancies that were available, and that if I failed to do this, they would be very likely to stop my claim as I obviously wasn't really seriously looking for work, or being in any way realistic about my prospects, was I?

He sat back again, which was just as well as he was wearing a hideous tie and I was at that point fantasising about grabbing it, hauling him across the desk and pulling on it until his eyes bulged very scarily while I experimented on how many shades of purple I could make his face go.

But also of course, I didn't.

I looked at his badge and as he had been calling me 'Alistair' throughout the interview, I said,

'Actually, CRAIG, I think I have been altogether realistic in my expectations and in my job search. I have been looking at jobs with a salary scale up to 20% less than I was previously on until recently and have now been looking at jobs with 30% less salary. Thats as low as I can afford to go'

I handed over from my folder of documents I had brought with me, 6 examples of jobs I had applied for in the last week and another half dozen rejection letters dated across the last fortnight. I explained how I conducted my job search daily, showed him my much more than required evidence of searches to go along with my examples of applications and explained how I had widened my search away from the restricted list I had originally considered when feeling like I needed a change of career direction, to the list of current applications which more reflected my last employment. I also explained 'in case he hadn't noticed from my records' that I was no longer receiving jobseekers allowance as I had used up all of my 26 weeks at £64 per week to which I was entitled after paying tax and insurance throughout my 32 year to date working life.

Alongside this - after all my lovely G had excluded me from any further benefit by dint of having the gall to be in full time employment herself - I had had the foresight over the years to pay for private insurance to cover my lost salary to the scale of £1700 per month in order to pay my large mortgage and other bills, something that would be in place for up to 2 years.

'So tell me. Why do you think it would be fair and reasonable of you to terminate any claim I'm making when by doing that you would cut me off from the very evidence that my insurers need to continue paying my payment protection claims? Do you think that is a reasonable move when I am meeting every one of your criteria except taking a job for the minimum wage?'

I went to the next desk and pulled off a copy of the local newspaper and put it on the table in front of him and asked him to find me any job advertised in it which would pay anything like the monthly salary my careful wife and I had insured ourselves against losing. I explained very clearly that I would not be intimidated into applying for any crap job which would ultimately cost me my home when I had been practical enough, sensible enough and had foresight enough to protect myself for a long enough time to preserve those things until I could find suitable work without beoming a burden on the state. I asked why he thought this was the right way to do things when I was no longer receiving any job seekers allowance support but in fact had already been cast adrift.

He mouthed platitudes about 'government policy' and 'not his decision', that any termination would be decided by a panel in another dept who would 'take all I had just said into consideration no doubt'.

I held up my hand and said that in case he had missed it that the country was in the middle of recession and that as he could see in the papers, there are few real jobs being advertised. I finished by saying that I wondered how the local and national press would view a member of the public coming to them with a story of how despite trying everything they could to find a job the government had forced them to take a unfeasably low paid job and lose his house {at a time when house prices are at their lowest for years} when that decision didn't need to be faced for another 18 months as there was absolutely no on cost to the government. Perhaps they would see it like I do - that what you are really trying to do is manage the unemployment figures down at any cost and bears no relation to constructively supporting me back to work.

'Would that have anything to do with an election coming up perhaps?'

He looked stunned.

'Of course, the other benefit I have from my insurance is £50,000 of legal cover, and if you try any kind of move to terminate my genuine claim which in turn affects my payment protection, I wouldn't hesitate to use every penny to fight it'

I thanked him for his time and explained that I would have to go as I had an afternoon of job hunting ahead of me and left without a backward glance.

Grrrrr........

see you later.

Listening to Kate Bush 'Man with a child in his eyes'

10 comments:

Big Swifty said...

Some of that's very familiar. I had a brief spell of job seekers allowance, and their processes were so unrelated to me getting more work that I soon fell foul of their rules. We went our separate ways, me as self-employed and them as not paying me. They had no understanding whatsover about professional jobs, or how they could help people like me, so I just got on with it myself. I found the people nice enough at the Job Centre, but the constraints they were working under made the whole process totally inappropriate for people like me.

Scudder said...

Beautifuly done my friend !
Oh to have been a fly on that wall .,.,
Promise you'll take a tape recorder along next time and put it on uTube ?
These sanctimoneous little "JobsWorth" shits always got on my tits too !
I was in the fortunate position however of being able to tell them to shove their benefits where the sun don't ever shine !
Went once and never returned ...
Can I suggest you think about becoming a Golfer ? :o)

The Scudder said...

Al, just trying to see if being a "follower" helps me post a comment .,.,
Sounds almost religious this Follower thing .,.
You're not HIM are you ????

Alas no, it hasn't made a blind bit of difference !
Any suggestions ? What should I comment as ,,,
Google account ? Live journal ? Wordpress ?
Typepad ? AIM ? Open ID ? Name/URL ? or what ??
I CAN get in eventually using anonymus PLUS always, that word verification thing ,,,
My Blog requires none of this to add a comment ?

Alistair said...

Don't know what you have done but the second one has come through beautiful and with the proper nom de bloomin plume attached.


WELL DONE THAT MAN!!!

cheers....Al

Morning's Minion said...

J and I have noticed that whenever one deals with a government employee or one of he bureaucratic types, there is the almost instantaneous urge to strangle said employee.
If they are interuppted in mid-spiel, they seem only able to start over and repeat the set answer verbatim. Totally frustrating.

Alistair said...

By the way Swifty, I think you're right and having re-read this this morning I might be a bit unfair here. He probably wasn't quite as rude as I portray him here.

Guess I wasn't in the mood for taking prisoners......

regards....Al.

lom said...

Well done to you, I have been looking for parttime work for 12 months now and am happy to work for min wage, But there arn't any of those type of jobs either. I was put on the books of one company last september and still haven't had an offer. I ring they say things are slow. It drives me mad the goverment want to live in the real world

Alistair said...

Thanks lom,

Like all of us, I hate to be treated as anything less than an individual. I have found that the JC+ set up - nice folk as they normally are - is actually more about ensuring you are not claiming your £64 fraudulently and that they are more used to dealing with people who don't want to work or who have very low expectations of kind of job etc.

I also have never been one to be pushed around or to one side and I do get grumpy when simple things like courtesy and understanding are missing.

And I do have a gob on me..........

cheers....Al.

jono said...

Al I'm beginning to think you're the Scottish me. :-) I can once again relate to your story almost exactly. I however eventually took the route of Big Switfy and started working for myself and thus escaped the depressing cattle market that is the job centre.

Can I just add that your sense of humour in thee matters (which is excellent by the way) will be your greatest weapon. Keep it up.

Kat_RN said...

Way to go! Can you hear my applause? Bureaucrats are the same everywhere, no matter what the accent is. Maybe that is why they all wear ties, to allow us to dream. (How many colors of purple?)
Kat

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