After returning to the UK from 28 weeks abroad in Turkey and Syria volunteering I applied to Jobseekers Allowance whilst I searched for a job.
I currently live at home with my Mother and Grandparents to minimise expenses and attempt to save myself some money.
On the morning of Monday 22nd April I received a letter from my local Job Centre saying that my Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) payments have been stopped because I failed to apply for a job recommended by the job centre. I am absolutely furious about this decision and I intend to challenge, and overturn it.
I fully understand that there are people who use the benefits system in order to live an easy life, taking advantage of the system, the benefit “scroungers”. I am quite clearly not one of those people and I do not intend to be on JSA for a long time. I have no desire to live at home with my family and I have no desire to resort to signing-on in order to get money. Since applying for JSA I have made 17 separate job applications for positions and vacancies. However this has obviously not been taken into consideration when looking at my case as whoever has decided to stop my payments has surely decided that I am not actively seeking work, or at least not looking hard enough.
Details of all my job applications are below and you are more than welcome to speak to the employers to confirm my applications.
– In February I applied for a position at Arche Nova.
– In February I applied for a position at Caritas.
– On March 13th I applied for a Research Assistant position at ONE.
– On March 19th I applied for a job in Cancer Research UK Store.
– On March 19th I applied for an Overseas Operation Officer at Frontier.
– On March 20th I applied to International Citizen Service.
– On March 26th I sent an application for a Grant to Lush in the hope of continuing a project I established whilst in Turkey.
– On March 28th I applied for the Speakers Parliament Placement Scheme.
– On April 1st I applied for 1 Year Peaceworker.
– On April 1st I applied for Graduate Management Trainee.
– On April 18th I applied for a Bar Staff position.
– On April 18th I applied for Service Manager, Education and Engagement role with the Red Cross.
– On April 21st I applied for two jobs in Ladbrokes.
– On April 21st I applied for Admin Assistant at Pisys.net.
– On April 22nd I applied for Junior Recruitment Consultant at Hydrogen International.
– On April 22nd I applied for Graduate Recruitment Consultant at Hays.
As well as all these job applications I regularly update my profile on LinkedIn, networking with other users and checking available jobs, I check Universal Job Match, Charity Jobs and Gumtree, have taken two online tests to see whether I am suitable for a job, have been invited for an assessment day with Raleigh International, checked reliefweb.net, idealist.org,jobsite.co.uk, indeed.com, cvlibrary, Brightonandhovejobs.com,jobs.thisisouthwales.co.uk. totaljobs.com and have uploaded CV’s to various job websites.
But again obviously none of these factors are taken into consideration and my payments have now been halted until July 18th.
Quite obviously I am taking considerable steps in order to find a job and place of work and just because I failed to apply for one job that the job centre has deemed worthy, now means that I am no longer entitled to financial assistance.I find this absolutely ridiculous. I really cant understand the logic behind such an action, not only in my case but in the wider scheme of things also.
Firstly government interference in peoples lives should be kept at a minimum and the hunt for a place of work should be an independent action. Perhaps at times there should be assistance but there should never be the use, or threat, of force by the government. As long as a candidate is applying for jobs and genuinely looking for places of work then the government should have no right dictating to him/her what jobs they should be applying for, and in turn what jobs they consider the candidate suitable to work. Where a person works should be their own decision and their own choice. They should not in anyway be coerced into applying for a position by the threat of having their benefits taken away. The stipulation of taking a certain amount of steps each week towards finding a job is acceptable and as long as a claimant is doing that then there should be no further interference.
Secondly I would be delighted to hear what the pursued goal of this action is. Claimants are on JSA due to not having enough money to live off whilst being out of work.By cutting these benefits what is then expected of the claimant? How is he/she meant to find a job and furthermore, how is he/she meant to survive? Now that my JSA has been cut I have no money to print off CV’s and no money to travel to any potential interviews. Luckily my family are extremely kind and are supporting me through my period of unemployment despite the fact my Grandparents are retired and my Mother earns little money. What happens to those claimants who are less fortunate than myself? Those who don’t have a family who support them with a bed, a roof and food? It’s a disgraceful act punishing those in society who are in most need of help and support. Ninety days of no financial support does in no way correspond with the point of the job centres existence. The reason for its being is to help those that need it,in finding employment. Cutting all financial support will morally, ethically and legally go against the very aims the job centre stands for. Thirdly, one can only assume that the purpose of the ninety days whereby I cannot claim JSA is a punishment for not obeying the powers that be. Why is this figure ninety days? What is it that is meant to be accomplished in this period? And why on the ninety first day can I claim JSA again, what has changed? I find this totally illogical.
Of the two job centre staff members I have spoken to today,they both stated that they don’t agree with what has happened and the rule is stupid. I understand that working a job comes with roles and responsibilities and that orders have to be obeyed. The changes to the benefit system must be adhered to by the staff but when a rule is so blatantly nonsensical, illogical and unhelpful then workers should use their initiative and work around it.“Just following orders” was an excuse given by many throughout history, and many tragedies could be avoided if people were more thoughtful and less inclined to just follow blindly. With regards to my case, job centre staff have to suggest placements and job vacancies to me, that’s a part of their job. But what they don’t have to do is fail to accept my reason for not applying to the job that they suggested me. Especially when they can see the amount of work I am putting in myself in order to find a work placement. The entire reason that my JSA has been stopped is because someone thought my reason for not applying for a job centre recommended job was not good enough.
Many I have spoken to about this issue have said that perhaps I should have applied for the position that was recommended to me and then attended the interview, if there was to be one. Though this would in theory solve the problem it is a pointless act. I would apply for a job that I am not interested in and not suitable for and waste both my time, which could be better spent applying for jobs that are suitable, and the time of the employer. Attending any future interview showing no passion and no commitment does not benefit myself or the people looking to hire.
On top of what has been mentioned previously reports from The Guardian and comments made on moneysavingexpert.com both worry and enrage me. What they suggest does not seem entirely unrealistic and judging by how quickly I was dismissed I am rather inclined to think there is an element of truth in the matter. Two years ago word got out that perhaps job centre workers are deliberately “tricking people out of benefits to cut costs”. With the current war on welfare by the government, it would not surprise me in the slightest if these comments were found to be true, and if so my case would just be another example of a benefit claimant losing their money amidst growing pressure to meet targets.
As well as this action taken against me I would also like to voice my discontent at the system as a whole. It is completely impersonal and dehumanising. The fact that I have to write a letter in order to get a reply reinforces my point. There is no telephone number to call and nobody in my local job centre that I was able to speak to about this matter. I can only assume that this is to put potential complainers off,and to save workers from seeing the anger and upset their decisions cause. From the letter I received it stated “If you want more information please get in touch with us. Our phone number and address are at the top of this letter”. I phoned this number and received absolutely no help whatsoever. I was speaking with a young lady who had no idea about my case and could offer no assistance or advice. Once again I can only assume that this number was put as the contact number to deliberately prevent any sort of help on the issue. The only advice I received over the phone was to go into my local job centre and speak to them about it. After a 40 minute journey I arrived at my local job centre where I was greeted by a man who offered only slightly more help than the woman on the phone earlier. I was unable to talk to anyone in the centre about it and the only thing I could do was to send a letter. This long winded and entirely unhelpful procedure was a waste of both time and money, it needs to be more personal, with face to face interaction. Please find enclosed my bus ticket which I used for the journey to the job centre. As it was an utterly useless and pointless journey, and as neither the woman on the phone nor the man in the job centre offered any help relating to my issue, I am holding you accountable.Therefore I expect a full refund of the money I paid for my travel today.
As Thomas Hobbes said in his book Leviathan, in a state of nature whereby there is no society and no government, life is “nasty, brutish and short”. The whole purpose of society was a pact amongst everyone whereby we are all in a better position inside than we were outside. Welfare such as JSA is a safety net for those within society that are at the very bottom of the pile, the most needy. Removing this safety net exposes them to a life with no assistance, no help and no support. It is the government that has cut ties with these people, these people never chose to be outcast from society. The decision to remove the safety net is immoral, unethical and dangerous and it does not surprise me in the slightest that there are instances whereby the removal of benefits has lead to one or more deaths. Richard Sanderson committed suicide in August 2011 after his benefits were cut, Nicholas Barker committed suicide in December 2012, Mark and Helen Mullins committed suicide in November 2011 after their benefits were limited. My case is obviously not as life threatening as these examples but it shows the effects that cutting benefits has on peoples lives. On the 20th of June 2012 The Guardian ran an article entitled“Job centre bosses warn of suicide risk among claimants”. This warning was obviously not heeded and more tragic cases are bound to appear unless the government chooses to change their policy, or workers become more sympathetic to the needs of those they are meant to be helping.
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