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Showing posts from November, 2011

Santander - A Woeful Distraction

I'm not above a good old fashioned rant at the banks. If it's good enough for (insert middle of the road comedian) then it's good enough for (insert me). Plus I've spent all last week pursuing a complaint made on the 21st to what seems to be a giant black hole of complete indifference.
For about the last year, until this March, I was treading ground with my account which was just within the £200 overdraft, merely paying off the interest thereon. I was then informed that, as of April, they were going to change their overdraft arrangements (as you do) which would leave me unable to pay them and thus incur charges. Wanting to avoid this I contacted them, despite their total lack of interest (because I wasn't technically in debt) I made a complaint which resulted in an arrange to pay off that amount at £3 a month with the overdraft being removed and the account being closed at the end. They even wrote to me notarising this. Great, thought I.
So everything had been going …

Rookie Mistake

Having just signed on this morning I am now kicking myself as I type this. I made a rookie error when presented with a call centre job that's going to be interviewing next week. I agreed to apply for it even though my JSAg recognises that such environments are not the sort of places conducive to a good state of mind for me. I felt I should apply even though I was given the choice; I felt I had to be seen to be playing the game, to be making an effort. What an idiot. Now I'm committed to apply for a job, and one that's being handled by the JC+ themselves, so there's no way I can get out of it! Though more fool them if they employ me I suppose, but I just can't handle those environments, I can't even deal with the idea of being called in for a grammar test (held next Thursday) and an assessment and all sorts of high pressure bollocks the next day as well (at cost to me in terms of bus fares, I have no idea if transport costs are reimbursed).
However one concession…

Mr Grayling!

Mr Grayling...(to paraphrase Ozzy Osbourne!) has written in the Guardian. Here's my response to thsi awful individual's free piece of propaganda.

But your evaluation of the work experience scheme is a great injustice to the young people who are benefiting from it.

This is grandstanding; a far greater injustice is forcing people, in lieu of withdrawal of their only source of income, to work somewhere they have no say in for no wage. How is that acceptable? You have substituted opportunity for competition; forcing people to fight like hungry jackals over increasingly scarce scraps thrown by deign of the master's will from the capitalist's banquet table. Money for you and the welfare provider pimps, such as A4E, nothing for the worker. How is forcing a graduate to work at Poundland anything other than a scandalous waste of their education (and thus taxpayer money)? How is forcing increasing numbers of the unemployed into the same merry go round of menial drudgery ever going…

Where's My Crystal Bath!

This is a superlative article and I enjoyed reading it, even though I felt like I was going to vomit over my keyboard at the lifestyle of the Ecclestones. Crystal baths? Private nightclubs? Pet salons? I sit at a 6 year old creaking pc on a piece of lawn furniture wearing primark's finest and live in a house with zero insulation (i feel as apprehensive about the winter as the heroes of Game of Thrones). I cannot relate to these people at all. I cannot understand it - a £45 million home? I have no idea what miss Ecclestone does, but surely that is wealth beyond the dreams of avarice, to coin a phrase.
I'm not here to compare my lot with hers. It's not a sob story (the only thing I really crave is a decent PC, frankly - and it needn't be made from mexican crystal). But the point is this:
Socialism for the rich, capitalism for the poor: that is how our economies work.
A brilliant concise observsation that the ruling rich disngenuously disown. I personally believe there shou…

Lord Freud Strikes Again!

Or, as I like to call him, Lord Fraud. Once a Labour 'adviser' (his expertise comes from years as a banker with about 5 minutes knowledge on welfare) on welfare reform, now defected to the Tories. Clearly a man who knows which way the wind is blowing.
I don't live in Huddersfield, but this articleseems portentous to all of us on benefits, specifically those on sick benefits - or rather those that might come to be! Which of course could be any of us.
To use language such as 'fewer wasted lives' just betrays the tory mindset. They really believe they are on some ideological crusade. This is an absolutely crazy idea that will, at best, emasculate doctors with whom prospective sick claimants will need a deep and personal relationship.
So what will happen? The prospective claimant will probably have to ring up their local ATOS office no doubt to be given a medical in order to claim a sick note - not even a guarantee that sick note will lead to a proper claim for ESA (ATOS …


Signing on gets progressively tougher the longer it lasts. This of course isn't matched with an increase in the opportunities available to you. All that you will ever find, from the JC, is whatever happens to be on their fallible, poorly administered and probably exploitative, database. Something they will never fix. There is an increased inertia which weighs against the claimant as a result of remaining as a claimant.
Advisers will question why you aren't getting shortlisted, picked, interviewed or whatever, but they will not accept that the labour market is on its knees. They certainly won't accept that most of the jobs, in my humble opinion, you are made to apply for are completely unsuitable and probably don't exist. At least not in the form presented on the printout. I always double check the information I'm given because that's theonly way to find out what the job's actual conditions are (whether it's in fact part time, not full time, or what the h…

Stuff from This Week

IDS appeared on a World At One broadcast (no link, the programme isn't available anymore, sorry) recently where he talked to some unemployed youth types in Hackney. Yet more propaganda for the Work Programme, which, it seems to me, is not quite the panacea the tories want it to be. However they continue to fall back on propaganda whenever the issue of youth unemployment rears it's head, as it has this week with the reported increase in the number of such people.
IDS was quizzed by an ex prisoner about the obvious difficulties of finding work. He seems, like all tories, ideologically incapable of understanding that right wing policies have bred the problems people like the prisoner have had in their lives, problems that compel people - without making excuses - into crime (no one's born a crook). We have a society with a climate of fear, division, envy and resentment - envy of the lot of the poorest in society because they don't have jobs the rest of us resent. Fear that…

Community Service

This is something we currently use as a punishment for certain crimes and certain criminals. It's also something the government wants to introduce for people that come out of the two year Work Programme having still found no work. In other words, it's workfare. I object to this for reasons I've already mentioned, but the guidelines for this have been linked elsewhere online. I am reposting my comments from that site here.
From the above document:

9. CAP work experience placements must deliver a contribution to the local
community and must not displace what would otherwise be paid jobs."

If you are going to mandate people to a 30 hour a week job then how on earth can you argue this isn't going to displace a paid position. To me this is the rotten core of the whole workfare scheme. Why can't these placements be paid work, therefore solving the problem it's ostensibly trying to fix. Of course we see that isn't what this is about; it's cheap labour for the…

Overheard in the Surgery!

Ooh matron (not really).
I was waiting to see the doctor (stress and tiredness I think are inducing weird motion sickness) and listening to the local BBC station. Apparently benefit fraud is on the increase in Bristol - or at least they reported a windfall of prosecutions.
Well that's great; no one is going to defend benefit fraud, though personally I can't see it as much more than a victimless crime perpetrated by people ruled by even bigger crooks. I don't lose much sleep over it, sorry. But, as a claimant, I have to be seen to disapprove, which is fair enough I suppose. I don't condone it regardless.
I have to wonder though how much money is spent chasing these people? I'm not the first to make this point, and I won't be the last. Surely if someone's only crime is that they have claimed fraudulently, even if it's a few grand, is there any point throwing even more money in what is clearly an exercise in making an example of these people? Send a few down …

They Don't Get It

The Tories will simply never understand the reality of unemployment.

Firstly cutting people off of benefits will only create further problems. These people will still exist as will their needs which, if not met by the welfare state, will be met by the street and by criminality. That itself will bring increased cost (and of course increased opprobrium from the right wingers) for everyone else through increased insurance premiums, retail prices (to cover the costs of shoplifting for example) and perhaps prison time. They will be alienated from society and thus more motivated to antisocial behaviour and to move against society through criminality. This is why we have a welfare state. The Tories do not understand this. To them it, and thus the poor and the weak, are only ever a burden.
The Work Programme is clearly a scam. I've said it before: the unemployment gravy train. It is obviously a money making scheme for a group of businessmen and women, some of whom may be naively idealistic.…

A Waste of Energy

Many years ago a mate said to me that everyone should spend a turn on the dole, in order to open their eyes to the system we have in this society. I think that's a great point - not that I wish destitution and financial insecurity on people.
Society goes to such great lengths to make people feel that work is the be all and the end all that you have to wonder if there's something to hide. The phrase 'hardworking' is bandied about with almost reckless abandon, but usually by the manager class in this country. People that don't subscribe to this notion are immediately marginalised as lazy.
This is absurd. Firstly I subscribe to the Taoist ideology that simply says one should only exert the required amount of effort to perform the task at hand well. But again our society views that as the definition of sloth. This is also absurd. Whatever is the point of just frittering and wasting our time and energy - as if the time and energy of the unemployed are worth less than the …


Yesterday I went to Bristol and visited the Occupy protest taking place on College Green. There is a small and hopefully growing camp of people that, rightly IMO, want a better world. I support their efforts. This isn't a grotty group of soap dodgers or scroungers and stereotypes like these are growing increasingly tiresome. I even met my old GP who has long been active in working for change. This post is to affirm my support for their efforts. This movement is for everyone because the failing system affects everyone.
I'm not entirely sure what I can do to actively help the movement (signing on and camping out isn't going to be possible). I'd like to think there's something we can all do that is practical, but I fear that really radical change is only going to come from radical action. That isn't a euphemism for violence: we can achieve our aims peacefully, as indeed we should. However I think we need concerted, nationwide (if not planet wide) civil disobedience…

Time is Ticking

That's the message from my adviser today. I'm not entirely sure what it means. Seems a bit silly to say to someone that you must get a job sooner rather than later if they are going to then end up spending all of that precious time in a crap-ass job. Isn't there a contradiction in there somewhere? Of course you might find a non crap-ass job, which is great and good luck to you if you do. But that isn't really very likely these days is it; certainly not through the JC whose awful systems don't really help people in that regard.
Time is ticking. I have to do something and soon. Of course the reality is that if I don't it's the Work Programme for me which, I'm sure, she can tell I'm not happy about. Hardly surprising when the process is little more than passing me off to someone else to deal with. These people can't magic up jobs and, in my experience (and certainly loads of others, it seems, even if anecdotal), aren't interested in actually hel…