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At my first WP appointment the adviser, who must have had the info referred by the JC because he had my phone number, ignored the information regarding mental health issues. Not only that but he insisted that I explain those issues to him there and then, in a tactless open environment (even though there were only a couple of other people present). 

Immediately I became and have remained defencive; how can i trust this person in this context? It's bad enough that I have to explain medical/personal information to someone in a biased environment (ie, the Work Programme - as opposed to an objective clinical/therapeutic context), but when they have already set the tone by lying?

This is why I dread my new appointment, on the 19th. I had no say in that appointment either. I was not contacted and asked, again knowing that I have problems, what works best for me. There is no give and take nor is there any consideration of such.

I rang the Salvation Army Employment Plus head office and asked them about the requirements for this meeting: bringing a CV and an 8 week Jobsearch. Apparently I don't have to give them my CV (we'll see), and in both cases it's just 'to help us help you'. Again we'll see. I also asked about the provision of support regarding mental health issues, but was given a similarly glib response; something about staff having a wide range of expertise. 

I just don't trust these people. Trust is hard to give and easy to abuse. The sad fact is that these people don't understand this, which belies a greater concern: they are utterly out of their depth and motivated only to get results, hence the focus on Jobsearch. This in turn makes me more concerned: I suspect they will likely look at what is on my CV and my Jobseeker's Agreement and limit their help only to what's contained within. That to me, at best, is counter productive. What about finding a new career, what about training to that end or something similar? Fat chance when they can just refer to a DWP document I signed that sets out three categories - choices I made under duress (I don't choose, I don't get benefit) from a limited stock approved by the Jobcentre. What I want, what I can do, what skills and abilities won't mean a damn. For them it's the line of least resistance to the most profit, and if I don't apply for only those kinds of jobs - suitable or not - I can expect a Christian organisation to tell the JC I'm not playing ball and be complicit in a sanction.

I would like to know why these organisations are the only ones deemed suitable to run this beast of a scheme? These companies only exist to make money out of unemployment. They have no experience of anything beyond that. It's a vampiric existence. 

Why are we not letting universities and colleges, for example, offer provision? Are they not best placed to give training and find opportunities? Is that not what they do? There have to be better sources to help people, if we must endure the overriding capitalist systme which is the greater problem (and the root cause), than simply these for-profit entities that can't even get away with calling themselves 'social purpose' organisations? They aren't even charities; those that wanted to get in on the action (more fool them, it seems) have been royally screwed.

This is why I'm dreading my appointment. But that's an emotional response these peopel are not equipped to understand is a problem, nor to deal with.


  1. Actually I’ve always been puzzled by the status of the Jobseeker’s Agreement while engaged on the Work Programme.

    Late last year I completed a temporary assignment for an employment agency at a time when I was already engaged on the Work Programme. The assignment only lasted for a few weeks – I thought it would actually last a lot longer – so I signed on again under a rapid reclaim and was issued with a fresh Jobseeker’s Agreement, then it was back again to the Work Programme Provider. If the Jobseeker’s Agreement is still in force, shouldn’t Jobcentre Plus be reviewing it on a three-monthly basis? And yet for close on a year they haven’t in fact reviewed it. Not once. But Jobcentre Plus still insist that I carry out the steps listed on what I regard as an out-of-date Jobseeker’s Agreement and fill out a jobsearch record.

    Is it in fact the case that the Jobseeker’s Agreement remains in force while engaged on the Work Programme, or is it suspended for the duration? Has this question already been asked, and answered, elsewhere? I think I must be missing something.

    1. In truth JBS I'd say "nobody seems to know!". The whole WP thing is such a right royal cock up that the left hand not only doesn't know what the right is doing - it doesn't care!
      We have the JCP checking jobsearch activity and the WP doing the same. We have JSAgs from the JCP and "action Plans" from the pimps. The JCP seems to be being whittled down to just being a benefit administration department and the pimps just government paid gangmasters who are only interested in you if they think they can make money out of you.
      The whole system is rotten to the core.

    2. I guess it all comes down to the black box approach. That is providers can do what they like, so who knows whether the Agreement remains in force. What's likely to be the case is that in order to appease the JC you must abide by your Agreement, in order to appease the WP you must also abide by their action plan.

  2. This blog post, and these last two comments, raise some interesting questions.

    I understand what you say, Ghost Whistler, about being limited to the three categories listed on your Jobseeker’s Agreement. On the other hand – well, I attended my Provider’s premises a few days ago to carry out jobsearch, in the so-called “Open Access” area where Provider staff also carry out review interviews and you sometimes can’t help hearing what’s being said. So I heard a staff member telling a jobseeker that after thirteen weeks he’s no longer able to limit himself to what’s on his Jobseeker’s Agreement, but has to apply for any job at all (this plays right into the hands of the WP Provider, of course). But if Jobseeker’s Agreements are not being regularly reviewed while a jobseeker is engaged on the Work Programme then I’m starting to wonder whether what this “consultant” said is true, or whether it’s bollocks. I’ll have a think about it.

    As for Action Plans – if an Action Plan doesn’t take account of skills, aptitudes, and experience, and is simply designed to push people into any job at all, then it’s not an Action Plan, it’s an abomination.

    It strikes me that the black box is a very grey area indeed.

    1. One might assume that the JSAg is intended to be used by the provider just the same as the JC. But who knows? Of course that's a double edged sword; asking for training to expand your horizeons beyond the limited choices available for the JSAg is always fraught. They aren't interested in a long term goal (certainly not in the case of the Salvation Army, ironically), but in getting you into work ASAP. Consequently my experience as a cleaner years ago is probably going to tick their bozes way more than my interest in writing.
      The 13 week thing is still bound by the JSAg. They expect you to broaden your horizons, so to speak. But you still pick three jobs for the Agreement, just more 'broad' jobs. None of it makes much sense, it's an entirely counter productive approach IMO.

  3. My "adviser" told me to just look at the SOC codes, rather than the broader category of admin, office clerk etc.. Of course i would never say record your interview with your providers quietly. I would never say you can get them quite cheaply. I would rather get into trouble for recording it, rather than a sanction. If its recorded its proof of what you said and what they said. Of course i would never do anything like that..

    1. I record the DWP code. I know what code you are referring to but I've no idea what it means. I might try and record it, but my mp3 player has a touch screen and it might look a bit obvious as I fiddle about with it! We'll see.

  4. It looks like "Universal Jobmatch" is nearly here, set to be introduced on the 19th of November.

    I dread to think what horrors await with that new system...

    1. So i noticed. I just visited their site. I'm morbidly curious to see how pants it will be.

    2. I'm curious as to when it will be mandatory to log-in to or register with the site myself. I've heard all sorts of stories about how it will be compulsory 35 hours per week "jobsearch" via this new UJ system. Wouldn't that be a flagrant breach of privacy to monitor somebody's web-browsing activity to that extent?

  5. I won't be sharing my personal details/CV with their universal system, though I imagine, like most sites, you will need to regsiter an account of some kind.

    I rang the Salvation Army today to see if I could get an earlier appointment. I find it easier to get these things over with in the morning. Unfortunately, and predictably, I now have to wait for some head manager person to ring me back (i couldn't handle talking directly to my 'job life coach'). I also mentioned that I wasn't comfortabel seeing someone not trainted in mental health issues, which may have been a mistake.

    That they haven't bothered to call me back and are leaving me hanging, along with the rest of this ridiculous provision, just further demonstrates how out of touch and how useless they are with regard to these issues. That it doesn't occur to them that people with anxiety issues might find all of this a problem says it all; it just doesn't occur to them that it is a problem.

    1. Half the time I can't even get through on the phone, that's what gets me. Take this week. I was given a list of appointments as usual by my advisor last meeting, but with the proviso some of them might be changed, since they are setting up a new "timetable", so I was advised to phone them up to confirm my dates and check if there would be any changes. So this morning I tried to get through, but failed. This happened several times, and each time I failed to get though at all. This despite ringing not only my advisor's number, but the number listed on their website. Each time nothing. So I have no idea if my appointments have changed or not, and have little other option but to visit them personally just so I can be sure I won't miss an appointment.

      They are shockingly bad some of these providers!!! Oh and as for this Universal Jobmatch I think I'm with you - there's no way I'm uploading a document containing personal information onto some dodgy website. If they want me to do jobsearch fine, but I will not be cajoled or threatened to sign my liberty away, or agree to be supervised like a common criminal...

  6. They DO have 'a wide range of experience'.
    One used to push trolleys. one used to flip burgers.
    Skillsets: picking nose, scratching bum.
    As non-doctors they are of course perfectly entitled and qualified to know about your medical condition!
    (sorry I just saw a flying pig)


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