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Showing posts from April, 2012

"It's Great!"

A current client says of their work experience: 'It’s great, it’s enabling me to improve my skills and look at other avenues. It’s making me smile again.'
 That's what the Salvation Army Employment Plus website tells me. They claim the organisation:
Works to redress the negative effects of unemployment on people’s lives – their self-esteem, overall well-being, families and wider communities, to provide jobseekers with targeted professional support through: our nationwide network of community and social work centres our teams of specialist employment advisers and our partners in employment services  These are not negative effects caused by unemployment but by capitalism: the lack of money in a society where money is everything and the social opprobrium brought about by not being what society wants you to be: an economic drone, instead of a rounded thoughtful caring individual. That's the first point to make; don't be telling me that unemployment is th…

Programmed - Parked?

I've been waiting all week for P to ring me. I was sure they'd be on my case as early as possible, and in a weird way, it might have been better had that been so. At least then I wouldn't have to wait, stressing out, as to what is supposed to be happening. It would also mean that I don't struggle to answer the JC adviser, when I sign on, when asked "how's it going on the WP?" which they ask every time now. 
So where does that leave me? Have I been parked? Will I get a call next week, next month, next year? Perhaps they've passed me back to the JC  for someone else to deal with; they clearly don't like having to deal with people that have the wit to ask questions about this awful nonsense. But in the end none of this really helps me, as if it was ever about that.
I've been filling in the forms that P printed out; the assessment forms. One of the first questions it asks is about my interest in self employment, further education, and/or training…

Absolute Zero

Not our lovely Spring weather, although that isn't far off as I sit in a cold room typing this, but the implication of this, from our lord and master, Goonface Grayling. 
The implication of this would be that voluntary work experience is worth rolling out to everyone. But then wouldn't it cancel itself out? If everyone was made to work for 5 months unpaid, in order to get a 16% greater chance of finding work, surely the end result would be no one would get a benefit? These schemes do not create jobs, so where is the benefit? 
This is the case for any such statistic the DWP pulls out of its hat regarding workfare, or the Work Programme, or 'voluntary' work experience, and not just for the youth. If my chances of finding work are improved because my provider can 'magic up' a good cv then that implies that the WP can do this for everyone, which again cancels itself out. So either these sorts of statistics in fact relate to competition within the system (and the &…

Dangerous Times

This is a great article, as is Izzy Koksal's blog, which I read yesterday. I think the key point made is quite simply the choice between paying for some slef help guru nonsense or paying for actual traiining:

"A4e and others seem to think it's worth spending money on this damaging nonsense but not on genuine skills training."

I've read a lot of the websites that are fighting this unholy mess and my concern all along has been that even if the claimant stands up for his rights and is correct, what's to stop the provider just making trouble for him? Quite simply nothing. I don't really have an answer for this: what else are people meant to do? But it seems that providers can just mark your card and you can get sanctioned simply for being a trouble maker by virtue of being seen not to play ball. What then? I hate to scaremonger.

What's needed is nationwide solidarity. We need the unions on side. We need as much of the media as we can muster on side. The acti…

Txt Me

Can I take this opportunity to again slam the Work Programme as a money making scam for the few at the expense of the many unemployed?

Now Cleggy wants a scheme that sees the support for our growing unemployed youth to be whittled down to a text message.

I'm not a youth, but JC support is non existence, and if you re on the WP they withdraw completely - except to check your jobsearch (which the WP are meant to provide) and take a signature. I'm supposed to be seen by the same person each time, that's what the DWPs own psychologist agreed given my difficulties (issues, by the way, that the WP provider can't and seemingly won't address). But they are short staffed when I sign on because no one wants to work Fridays. This exacerbates their usual lack of coordination within a system that is byzantine, complicated and at times self defeating.

Recruitment agencies are getting swallowed up by the WP as the big names are jumping on board while the little ones are no hope anyw…

Signing Again

Yes, it's that time of the two weeks. Time to catch the happy bus to opportunity street, only to find that they are short staffed. If I were to give them the benefit of the doubt I would put it down to illness, so maybe it would be unfair to criticise them. However I know they are routinely short staffed on Fridays because no one wants to work on that day. Strange that the DWP's shift system should allow for such a possibility. Still it's not too long a wait till I get seen.

It is supposed to be a more expedient process once you are on the WP, but all that means is they don't go through the process of a job search. You still have to sit there and listen to all their waffle and of course the inevitable 'how's the WP going', which will probably last as long as it does. How is it going? Well that's a good question. Unfortunately the JC and the provider seem to each have a different view on how it should work. As a result the claimant is caught in that no ma…

Programmed - the Language of Bullshit

I've been looking over the assessment forms P gave me to fill in. They are, unquestionably, filled with the usual lazily worded profile creating questions. The purpose of which is to pigeon hole me. For example: "what job search activity have you done so far?"

No time frame presented. Do they mean since I last signed on? Since I first signed on? Do they want an accurate record of EVERYTHING i have ever done to find work? Good luck with that!
The first page refers to a self-assessment questionnaire. I have no such thing. These forms are not meant to be filled in by the customer, I'm only doing it because I'm awkward and kick up a stink. Most of this is information P would already have if he'd bothered to read the info that was referred. Of course in truth, he has this information (he must have, he has my phone number and rang me the day before). The questions want to match me up with services they doubtless provide: stuff like CV building, advice on the 'hi…

Programmed - Action Plans

A few weeks ago I made a FOI request to ask if it was compulsory for claimants mandated to the WP to sign an action plan. The response I have received is as follows:

"Work Programme providers have the freedom to develop their own business models and processes to support and help participants find work. It is not however a mandatory condition of Jobseekers Allowance to sign an action plan, or a form confirming attendance to a Work Programme induction session or form confirming receipt of Work Programme induction session documents. It is (among other things) a condition of Jobseekers Allowance that Work Programme participants make the most of the help made available by the provider, for example, by attending meetings or taking phone calls at the times agreed and completing activities agreed with the provider. Individuals who are mandated to undertake an activity by a Work Programme provider may incur a loss or reduction of benefit should they fail to comply without good reason.Partic…

Smoke and Mirrors

That's all the WP is. From the untruths uttered by professional sociopaths like Grayling to the cash strapped charities desperate for money, plaudits and validation. It is abundantly clear now that this scheme is not remotely fit for purpose, as if it was ever going to be.

There is clearly a culture of misinformation. I'm not sure I put that down to any clever conspiracy, i doubt the government are that clever. It's more a case of poor communication from day one. No one really understands what they are meant to do and when they aren't supported in delivering the kinds of vision that Grayling continues to espouse it starts to creak and groan.

The upshot of all this is that the claimant is constantly kept on the backfoot. I walked into the meeting not knowing what to expect, so I'm guarded (well, more than usual) from the start. Is that really the way to run things? Keeping people in the dark? Not telling them what's going to happen, what's on offer, what they…

Programmed - Meet the New Boss...

So I'm back. From my first appointment on the two year sentence that nothing - including employment - will get me off of. What an utter waste of time.

First the surroundings: even though I knew it was the Sally Army (calling themselves Employment Plus instead of Salvation Army Employment Plus), I thought it might be in an office in a building that's part of what is a small church facility. Nope, there is no such thing. It's a small salvation army church with a small dining room/kitchenette at the back. I'm seen by the adviser, P, in the hall itself. He's set up a laptop with a printer attached as if it were a jumble sale. The whole place had that musty jumble sale/charity shop smell. We're sat between the rows of pews and the 'stage'; I've got a big old bible open on a shelf within arm's reach and on the other side of the stage is a lectern with a mic with the legend 'Jesus is Lord'! P is wearing salvation army uniform (that blue jumper…

Programmed - And We're Already Having Problems 2

A new post because otherwise it will take up 10 miles of screen space.

I've just had the Salvation Army ring me back. Oh where to begin. I think the guy is almost deliberately misunderstanding me. He seems to be saying that he's been told that I said this or that I wanted that (specifically a private room - no just appropriate discretion). What I asked him was 'what experience with mental health issues do you have'? Turns out, none. They are just, to use his words, job brokers. I explain to him that I made it clear that the issues I have were explicitly included in the referral. These are issues that my GP supports (somewhat) and that, with the help of the Psychologist (in her own wayward fashion), the JC accepts them. My JSAg is also tailored accordingly. It's far from perfect.

The upshot seems to be, ignoring his constant misrepresentation of what I have said, is that if you are referred as a JSA claimant you are regarded as hale and hearty with no problems. Conse…

Programmed - And We're Already Having Problems

I have just had my 'courtesy call' from Employment Plus (that is to say Salvation Army Employment Plus, only they left out the first two words, curiously). Ok, I knew this was coming. So I'm aware that I have my appointment tomorrow morning, in fact I can't stop thinking about it. Such is the joy the WP instills in me.

I ask if they refund bus fares. I'm assured they do, on presentation of a proper bus ticket. Ok, that's fair enough.

I ask about how trained they are in mental health. Well....they don't know I have any such issues. So that's something they get to discover during the assessment process, so I don't get an actual answer as to whether this person, a youngish sounding gentleman that doesn't proffer a name, has any experience in dealing with such issues/people/problems I might have.

But it gets better, it turns out that I've been double booked. So not only did Jobfit not pass on my the issues that I told the JC to let them know about …