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Dancing in the Ruins part 2

Every time I get my scrounging allowance I have to consider how much to keep back until I next sign on, usually this is around £40. This is because I cannot guarantee when next I sign that I'm not going to find myself being told 'you haven't done enough to find work. If that were to happen I'd need something to try and keep me going until I could at least speak to the CAB and put in some kind of appeal - not that £40 would really cover me for the duration such a process would likely take. 

Now I'm not sure that this is how such a scenario would play out, but that lack of security, that lack of knowledge is really what the DWP thrives on. The same with the Work Programme. You are never really told how things work, when things happen and what you can do. You are given a Jobseeker's Agreement, but at the same time expected to undertake what is reasonable to find work - and you cannot presume the two are the same. I am given to believe, but of course I am not at all certain, that the adviser would refer the decision to stop payments to a behind-the-scenes decision maker and, more importantly, pay my benefit until that is resolved. However I have also been told, although this was many years ago, that's not the case and that one is presumed guilty: ie money is stopped until otherwise decided. Hence my budgeting.

This is a stupid way to live, and it seems this is how the whole country is now living this way, regardless of their income. Meanwhile we are forever told that we have lived beyond our means (by we, the scumdog millionaire politicians mean the poor, not themselves of course). Really? All of us? I remember trying to prise a thousand pound loan from Santander back in the day (I wanted a decent pc, and in fact still do - this thing is 6 years old and is creakier than a haunted house) and being refused. Probably for the best. The whole system is debt fuelled: stop borrowing and the lenders (which include Britain, I'm sure) go bust - and they can't pay their own creditors. Stop buying and businesses go bust: live beyond our means is exactly what they want. The politicians claim to venerate entrepreneurs as though they are the new gods, but what good is inventing a new car, fridge or tv, programming an aspirant (re: compliant) nation, and getting them to want your product if they are then told not to live beyond their means. Cognitive dissonance abounds.

Meanwhile we are still bombarded with junk mail credit invitations and pre-approvals (ok perhaps not quite so much), yet this phenomena was our fault? Bollocks. So why are we paying for it? Well because that's what greases the wheels of the system. As the politicians get ever more shrill in the face of failing austerity, we hear more and more that we have to pay down the deficit and that, bizarrely, we are accumulating millions of pounds of interest a day. How on earth can that be possible; even if we undertook the most rigid of austerity programmes the interest touted by these lunatic politicians (all with an 'i hate my European neighbours, jolly old england' mentality) we'd never be able to pay that off. 

80% of these cuts have yet to come into effect. The next couple of years are going to be hell; Universal Credit comes into effect next year. I fear the worse for that; it's going to be an administrative nightmare exacerbated by the government's smart idea of not employing people over here to man their call centres, despite us having an unemployment crisis. When I first started claiming ESA the line manager at the call centre had no idea about her job, the process or what was happening with my case. Even when the actual ESA processing people sorted out the claim, she still managed to avoid taking responsibility after making me run around to try and get a second sick note from my GP. I didn't need it, but she was convinced that the information I'd sent in would take weeks to reach the relevant department (it didn't, it was their the next day) and that the quickest way to sort it was to get and send in a fresh note. You can imagine that sort of thing really makes GP's happy.

Here, in the Telegraph (again, sorry), is an article with some worryingly bizarre Tory claims.

The plans include a new crackdown on housing benefit and a “mark two” system of universal credit to help push people off benefits back into full-time, rather than part-time, work. There are also understood to be a range of measures to encourage more women, particularly single mothers, to return to work. 

As if the recent cap on HB (though not on rent) wasn't serious enough in its implications, they want to consider further limits. It's perfectly clear the Tories just haven't got a clue: the welfare budget seems to be their plaything, their new chew toy. With more people being forced to find new accommodation all they are doing is moving problems around. As demand increases in 'cheaper' areas (assuming such places have openings for tenants on HB, of course), rents will of course increase (just in time for Tory scum landlords to profit.

A Downing Street source said: “There is some really radical thinking going on around welfare, which is the most successful area of government policy so far. Why should people only work part time? Why are young people who are out of work not living at home? Why are we incentivising people to have more children? 

Part time? As opposed to what? People are only working part time because that's all the hours their employers are offering. This doesn't even make sense? What's going on here? Who is incentivising people to have more kids? What on earth exists in this current climate that could possibly persuade any rational person to want kids or to have more? Who'd bring them into this world right now? Certainly not me.
Universal credit mark two? What does this even mean when we have yet to see mark one. Be afraid children, be very afraid.

I hear also that the unemployment figure has dropped by 45000 (to put it very simplistically). But I suspect this is more to do with seasonal work. What will the figure be come the Autumn - and once the Olympics/Jubilee madness has passed. What then? 45000 isn't that much and I suspect is more easily explained by this kind of work. Even if it's not seasonal, is it work that pays a wage someone can live on, for instance is it part time, or some other form of temp work. We certainly can't assume 45000 people have all found a good career that will last until they are allowed to retire.

However there is some good news! Perhaps the Salvation Army will get their contract revoked, though I'm sure with the good lord himself on their side (though not enough to actually do anything), that won't happen. 

As number six used to say: "be seeing you"!


  1. Hello GW.

    More good prose, always good to read.

    Regarding what you mention in the second paragraph regarding if they have 'doubts'. I just cut and paste some stuff in below because I didn't know how to link.

    I am expecting a sanction soon, so been having a little look.
    For my particular naughty non compliant behaviour it would appear that I would be (Will be? Not thus far!) in line for a fixed length sanction, in such a case one still gets paid until a decision is made. They would have to sign you on and you would get the payment.
    With the other types I assume that payment would be withheld from the date of initial doubt referral.
    And because of the fortnight in arrears nature of the benefit one may even still get a partial payment depending on this. Just a guess though.

    I know what you mean about the budgeting, I have managed to save a few quid up over the past few months. Wanted some new clothes, but I think the same old stuff from last summer still has plenty of wear yet. I assume summer is on the way. Not too hot mind! Take care mate.

    VARIED LENGTH SANCTIONS: A sanction of between 1 week and 26 weeks is imposed for leaving employment voluntarily without just cause, refusing employment without good cause, or losing employment through misconduct. The actual period in each case is at the discretion of the Adjudication Officer who makes the decision.
    FIXED LENGTH SANCTIONS: A sanction of 2 weeks (4 weeks if repeated within 12 months, and 26 weeks if already received a 4 week sanction within last 12 months) are imposed for refusal, without good cause, to attend an employment programme or carry out a Jobseeker?s Direction. Payment of benefit continues in full pending the Adjudication Officer's decision.
    ENTITLEMENT: These are questions on which entitlement to JSA depends. For example, if there is doubt around whether the Jobseeker?s agreement (JSA) is suitable, whether they are actively looking for work or making themselves available for work. In most cases payment of JSA will be suspended by benefit processing until the doubt is resolved.

    1. Well, hopefully you won't get sanctioned at all, but of course the point is that nobody knows. It's entirely down to the people concerned.

      Good work on finding out that system (as far as any of us can). As I suspected, if they don't feel you are 'entitled', and thus a 'doubt' appears as to the validity of your claim (typical bureacratic wording); you lose your claim straight away. Guilt presumed before innocence. Of course they will say that if they subsequently find you are innocent then you get it backdated. But that's cold comfort.

  2. There are so few full time jobs, Who is going to create these jobs.. the businesses that are shutting down. People are being forced to go self employed, zero hour contracts, part time work. It is getting harder and harder to get any kind of job.

    Of course the unemployed and people on housing in London will be moved out to the north, and also all the other wealthy constituencies send em all up north.. then we wont need to think of them.

    1. Everything is starting to implode. Over the next 18 months, after the olympics, it's going to go down the toilet. Zero hour contracts are ridiculous, and the DWP routinely advertises them. It's down to how sensible your adviser is as to whether they will compel you to apply. Self employment likewise: now I think that's ridiculous. Not everyone is cut out to be the big business superstar, and getting yourself into debt in the name of self sufficiency and fitting into the social ideal of 'not being a scrounger' seems ill advised at best.

      I remember a discussion about unemployment/austerity months ago on local radio where the host was talking to a caller that had set up her own babyware shop. It didn't seem as if she was particularly knowledgeable nor that the business had really taken off (though it might well have done, and good luck to her if it has). She didn't strike me as a particularly astute or experienced businessman, and it's not really enough to say 'well i'll give it a go innit'. That's just naive.


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