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Who Benefits?

I mentioned before that I was given a job to apply for last time I signed on (last week). Ignoring that it was not advertised correctly (there are two jobs and both are permanent, not temporary), I really do not see how pursuing them benefits me. Of course I was compelled into this, in my opinion, by the adviser. This is one of the biggest problems with the jobcentre: the pervasive air of disapproval that makes you feel you should agree. That and the threat of sanctions, explicit or otherwise. The adviser was pretty adamant I should apply for this. Of course they cannot articulate this beyond a vague belief that it will somehow do me some good. But will it? Let's explore this.

Firstly the job is 12 hours (the other position is 6 hours, so we'll ignore that straight off). I will financially be about £7-8 better off than on the dole. That's not really much of a difference. There are no expenses incurred through working as the job is within walking distance. But of course if I signed off (see below) I would not get any of the extra benefits involved, such as optician costs, dental costs, free prescriptions etc. This is part of the safety net.

More importantly I don't get my stamp paid. This means that I will have to make up the difference from the money I get paid, which is hardly fair. I'm working, but not enough to pay income tax nor NI - but that cost still has to be paid or I don't get a pension. So who is really benefiting if I take this position? The employer gets a much cheaper labour force by taking people on part time in this way because he doesn't have to pay NI for his staff. But that cost must still be paid.

Could I remain signed on? If I did I certainly wouldn't get any money for it. I might still get my stamp paid, but I would still have to abide by the terms of the Jobseekers Agreement, which defeats the point of getting the job. So as well as having to avoid working when I need to sign on (which unless they changed the day would be impossible) I'd have to pay to get there to sign on and still be seen to be looking for work. Is this really the best way to help the unemployed?

I find this a crazy situation. I'm contributuing nothing toward society for doing this job - which isn't even something I aspire to anyway. I don't need to be given work by a shop in order to have meaning in my life, so I find the Tory ideology very suspect (it's about compliance let's be honest), I'm not 'paying my way', I'm not even providing for my future. I'll be either forced to work against my own interests if I somehow managed to keep signing on, or I'll be stuck in a monthly paid job for a pittance. Not only that but if I don't keep signing on (and frankly I don't want to - that's the whole point) then I'm cast adrift from the support that's supposed to be there, through the JC, to help people back into work. The Work Programme is meant to be tailored to help people into proper sustainable work (as opposed to a 12 hour NMW job), but that will not be available to me if I'm cut off from the DWP by working. Of course whether the support programmes such as the WP are any good is another matter entirely, but let's assume for the sake of argument they are.

Then there are also health issues, even in a part time job. When I first visited the doctor regarding my hypoglycemia (or whatever the fuck it is, some kind of metabolic nonsense) I asked him how I would manage this condition while in work. To that day I have not received an adequate response. People, including doctors, just cannot take this seriously. You are told things like 'other people manage', and that, because they do not see this as a serious condition, you are fobbed off. This of course only makes things worse. I still don't know how I'd manage even a 6 hour day without more than a 30 minute break throughout. Of course noone is going to let me take breaks every two minutes, especially in a part time job, but like it or not (and believe me I'd rather not have to deal with this condition) it's a reality I have to deal with.
The fact there is no support, I feel, is actually a factor that works against me. It's not taken seriously enough and so I'm left lingering with no help. All I was ever told was 'take a packet of biscuits with you'; yeah because employers like staff that stand at the till stuffing jaffa cakes in their face.

The final argument is of course the moral one: the 'rightness' of getting people working, even if only for a few hours. That's what I will be told; in fact that's the argument that persuaded me to go through with this even though I knew better. Two 6 hour days is nothing - and that you aren't doing any of the things people value about work (ie paying your way and contributing to society) I'm just cheap labour for a clothing retailer. It's not even as if I'll be working for a good cause - a charity or something that tangibly helps people. It's just selling shirts and shoes!

Jaffa cakes, I'm reliably informed, are not technically biscuits. Life is just too uncertain.


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