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Signing On

Yesterday I made a new claim for JSA, after my ESA ran out in January. Despite being told I should claim immediately, I couldn't cope with going on JSA straight away. Turns out that wasn't an option anyway; the JC website says you must wait at least 1 calendar month. Good job the decision, which came completely out the blue, to terminate my claim (tribunal, I failed the WCA of course) left me with at least a few quid to live on. Not that this woeful welfare system gives a damn.

So today I had my interview at the jobcentre wherein the jobseeker's agreement with the claimant is finalised. Agreement is really the wrong word since it's either a choice to agree to the DWP terms or starve. Even though claimants can and do make every effort to record their 'activities' (of which there must be three per week) the JC still insist that a) you look on their 'job points' when you step into the building (don't bother) and b) that the adviser, when signing you on, looks through the same list on the computer. This is on top of you, the claimant looking on their website (the same list again) at home, daily anyway.

You also have to set out three (the magic number it seems, perhaps there's some ancient mysticism at work that powers the DWP) types of work to apply for. You can't say you'd look for or consider anything. The categories of work are the usual rubbish. It's all motivated by some urge to compel the unemployed into work as soon as possible, whatever the cost. There's no interest in offering training or support to meet individual needs to help them be the best they can be in order to benefit society to the fullest and paying taxes back that way (usually at a higher rate than the Working Tax Credit supported NMW, which seems rather self defeating).

The problem I have (other than being a lazy scrounger) is that I have an anxiety disorder. That's the reason for my ESA claim. The stupid system we have puts me in the position of having to negotiate a search for work, to abide by the rules for JSA, while staving off attempts at being bullied into unsuitable work. Of course the right wing propaganda machine currently in ascendance, thanks to the rabid moralising of the Work and Pensions Secretary, thinks all work is suitable and that work is the great panacea. It's the puritan work ethic. How is someone that has to sacrifice everything that makes them who they are, that gives meaning to their life, going to benefit because they have to work 10 hours a day and a further 2 commuting. What's the point of that? A job at what cost.

I got no sleep last night I've been so stressed out. The beta blockers prescribed me by my GP haven't really helped, and I'm not comfortable with such medication anyway (don't get me wrong I've done what he asked). All this morning and last night my head has been so screwed up. Anxiety problems coupled with what I believe to be a cognitive defect (I'm trying to get tested for Aspergers, or something similar, which is very very difficult), mean i not just focus on stressful issues, like dealing with the jobcentre, but dwelling on them to the point of tunnel vision. The rest of the world just seems unreal during such experiences. The jobcentre doesn't understand this, the system can't deal with this and so it's either pass the dreaded and dreadful ATOS WCA (which would require rigor mortis, it seems), or claim JSA with the implication you can and will do any old job and that your problems are no barrier to this (otherwise you would need to claim ESA again).

There needs to be a third way. I would happily remain on ESA if it meant foregoing the extra you get for passing the WCA - staying at the assessment rate, which also happens to be the same you get on JSA anyway. The idea is that people on ESA get targeted and focused support (at least that's the idea). That sounds much better for someone like me, but in order to reach it you need a far greater, and far more demonstrable, level of problem. For me that's not the case, and there are plenty of others with such levels, far worse than I, who are still not passing the WCA. This system fails at every turn and the fear of being left with no income (which is the consequence of falling foul of our welfare rules) is just terrifying

I'm not here to elicit sympathy or to make myself out to be more ill than I am, but everyone's problems are serious to themselves regardless. It's never objective. I find that I just cannot relate to this society, and this world. Life seems fraught and strange to me. People will say 'life is hard' regardless of whether their actual experience. We have a society where people aren't interested, perhaps not able, in engaging with others in an emotionally mature way. Instead we dismiss one another in a way that's little better than a put down. For instance you might get told when signing on that 'other people manage' in relation to problems such as hypoglycemia (which I have and which means i have to moderate my food intake, regardless of what the conditions of a job and allotted break times might be). But they don't tell you how or offer any means to do so. That way they can set themselves apart from you and they give you permission to fulfil the stereotypes that they have in their head about you as a 'scrounger' - or whatever.

That's what society has become. I'm tired.


  1. I agree with your comment left on the Guardian Newspaper, it is time for activism not pathetic chants and banners. In the seventies and eighties we would print weekly newspapers and give them out for free on the streets of most Cities to inform the public of the corruption prevalent in the government, quangos, and institutions. Today we have Facebook, Twitter, Blogger, and many more, but without Activists it is a lost battle. What about Local Radio, or better still Building an on line Radio station, also an on line TV Station. We did this in the sixties seventies, they were called pirate stations, then they were illegal, today anyone with a bit of net savvy can do it so where is everyone.

  2. I have been through this for four years now, with my second Tribunal next week I am confident it will once again fail and will need to take it to the courts but the government has made even this more difficult with the closure of many citizen advice bureaus. They have cut, reduced or stopped my benefit many times now leaving me in debt, deeply depressed and they have exacerbated my condition by continual withdrawal of benefits in the middle of the last three winters, 2008 was -8 deg, 2009 -15 deg and this year – 20 deg. In 2008 I had been without heating and food for ten days and was unable to leave my home as I have arthritis in the big toes of both feet, Spondylitis of the neck and as yet an undetermined problem with nerves of the neck that affects the left arm and hand, the temperature was – 4 deg in my home when I was found by my friend the local pastor’s son in law. I was lucky, he went out and bought some food and was also able to buy me some electricity but the damage was done and my feet and neck have given me worse problems ever since. At both times that I have attended five ways house for Medical assessment I have been subjected to the Shetty System that has a deliberate built in 85% failure rate and I believe it is under review at the European Court of human rights. The number of people in my district that have now been sectioned under the mental health act has risen dramatically over the last two years due to this government’s extreme fascist policy towards the mentally ill and physically disabled. What can I say, who could ever have thought we would end up like this, in an uncaring society and with a government who thinks only of their bottom line profit margin. We have been reduced to a statistic of inconvenience much like they had in Nazi Germany, Fit for Work, or Unproductive. We are all frightened and distressed at our outcome as we see no hope for any justice now or in the future. Corporate Fascism always tends towards brutality.

  3. Thanks for the comments. I can't seem to get this to work unfortunately.

    Your story is, as is typical of this nightmare regime, horrendous.

    What is needed is action. Things are going to get ugly (or should that be uglier) in this country very very quickly.

    Best wishes for the future.

    This is no way to treat human beings at all.

  4. Hi. I'm JerichoG that responded to your comment. I apologise for some grammatical errors. My short-term memory is gone since the assault. It is possibly from a stroke last July from the injuries endured by my former neighbour, an asylum seeker from Somalia with countless assaults recorded by the Constabulary and the Adult Services. He promised to break my legs and would make sure that I never got up again.

    When I was finally able to move to my present location my social worker sternly informed me that she never wanted to hear from me about things like this again, as if it was my fault.

    So I received the blunt end of the stick, and he just walks around my hometown, with an Order to stay away from me until July 2013. Thank you for your time.

    1. No apology necessary.

      Sounds to me like you social worker is representative of a system that is completely unsupported. I guess she/he can't cope with their caseload. That doesn't help of course. There's no excuse for the service leaving you like that. I would advise, not that i'm in any way an expert, speaking to the CAB.

  5. Love your truthfulness! xx


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