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I Fucking Hate the Work Programme

That did not go well.

My legs were wobbly to begin with as I closed in on the church that passes for the office of the employment wing of the Salvation Army. My appointment was 3 to half past. I really did feel sick. Pretty early on, when he asked for the forms he gave me last time to fill in, I knew that what was arranged on the letter (a short interview with me bringing my CV and jobsearch) was actually going to be much longer. I also knew that, come half three when I had to leave to catch my bus back ten minutes later, I was going to have problems. 

Unfortunately, though more for me I fear, it never got that far; at 20 past he terminated the interview citing my apparent 'putting up barriers' as the reason not to continue. This was because I refused consent for him to keep my CV. I asked why he needed it and offered, three times, to show it to him (that's all), he said it was to apply for jobs on my behalf. The EEC's need this information.

What's an EEC? Employment Engagement Coordinator (obviously!).

What's an Employment Engagement Coordinator? His answer "exactly as it sounds". Clearly someone whose job it is to forward your personal information - your CV - to all and sundry. So I refuse consent. This of course is read as refusal to engage. More specifically it is seen as not complying. The Work Programme has 'a lot of compliance' (grammatically nonsensical, but typical of the buzzword culture I'm dealing with). I explained that his own head office - as well as the rules of the programme (I have signed no data protection waiver, nor was asked to, we didn't even finish the action plan - so refusing to sign that, again by the rules, would have sent him over the edge) - state that I don't have to give consent. In the latter case, at least, I hope so!

I said that iot was his decision to terminate the interview. I wasn't refusing anything other than to give away my consent. This is my personal data, there are privacy issues for starters. Why should that automatically mean that I'm refusing anything. I have a CV, you can look at it dumbass! He wasn't interested and proceeded to tell me it wasn't his decision to terminate the interview!

Unfortunately that's not the worst part: I was threatened with a sanction doubt. Or rather a 'compliance doubt'. This did not go down well and I made it clear (not violently though quite frankly I felt spaced out and wobbly throughout the entire experience, not that these people care, it's like talking in different languages) that I won't be left starving in the gutter. Hopefully he relented as he agreed to book an appointment in a month's time where no doubt the whole thing will go round again.

But let's start at the beginning of the appointment because it never got off to a good start. I've already mentioned, in my previous posts, how these people just don't get the problems that some of us have. They operate in a very 'gross' unrefined way. Personal issues are ignored as they focus solely on 'jobsearch' and, in this case, applying for jobs on your behalf. That's how they view helping you. There's none of the bespoke approach and the flexibility they advertise. There's no interest in helping with personal problems or viewing them as part of the picture - at all. Not only that but everything you say is taken literally and nailed down in black and white. There's no flexibility, nor interpretation of what you say: you have to make your case precisely and literally and simplistically. You have to have job goals, short and long term (why the latter then?), these have to be articulated clearly and they have to fit into the adviser's mindset. If not they decide that you are not engaging or that you are somehow wrong - wrong about your own interests experience and life.

For example I tried to explain I was interested in writing. It's not the only thing I'm interested in, but they don't want to know about multiple interests. He wanted to pin this down for his action plan in a way that I just couldn't understand. What sort of writing? How? What steps on your 'journey' (i shit you not) have I taken toward this. I tried to explain that I pursue my own writing interests and that I don't pin myself down because I don' tknow what opportunities are available - after all isn't that what the WP is meant to help with? Aren't they supposed to provide or find out or know such things? Then I can make a decision based on what's available. Nope. I had to tell him I was only interested in being an author. Yet if you take that kind of narrow vision to the JC they tell you that you need to broaden your search horizons. You can't win! He had to have something to put on the system; that's the most important thing. 

So I come across as flaky and he even tells me that he doesn't think writing is for me (I could show him my google docs/skydrive files, but what's the point; it would be lost on him). I was even asked, in return for 20k a year wage what type of writing, if I could choose, I'd do. A bizarre hypothetical situation where in return for less than the average wage he, hypothetically, would offer me any type of writing. But I don't just want to write books/novels. I like writing games. I like poetry. How can people think like this? It's alien to me, at least. Maybe I'm alone in that. I said that I just couldn't answer his question; my head was spinning. I really couldn't answer it. What a bizarre and pointless question! Didn't impress him though. I have to have a short term goal and a long term goal even though it was made perfectly clear that they were only ever going to focus on the former and the latter was just there as a 'feelgood factor' or something. 

He said I should do a creative writing course (fair enough, but I can actually write. It's not some alien skill or something I've never ever done in my life!) so I asked about training. This in response to the adviser, at the first appointment, saying they don't offer training and then the form saying that they did. All they offer is: 'CV training' and 'application form training' and stuff of that level. The lowest common denominator.

Now I'm not knocking that if that's what you need. But that's all they offer. That's the extent of this stupid system. That and EEC's and 'compliance'. Turns out this supposedly individually tailored flexible system is of course, once again, nothing of the kind. What a crock - and backed up with threats too.

When it came to mentioning, as I felt I had to, my mental health issues, I was told that, as I don't have a support worker, they weren't interested. Same as before. I'm on JSA, he says, therefore they aren't untreated in these things. They can't be considered problems, which means they will be viewed as excuses. That just makes things worse. I'm inferring there somewhat, but it's pretty obvious. Everyone that comes through their doors with such issues has a support worker, I don't ergo no problem. Never mind that people aren't just assigned support workers (and in a time of cuts and austerity) such people at the best of times or because they asked the GP and the GP/specialist just assigned someone from some presumed supply of people. It's just pig ignorant.

So where does that leave me? 

Fuck knows, I have no idea what I'm going to face come Friday, when I next sign on. I mentioned numerous times that the JC said the WP was meant to be flexible and that they referred the info regarding my issues as part of the initial arrangement. Again, as before, the adviser insisted that the JC had the wrong end of the stick. In fact he said he was going to march on over there and have to set them straight, so I'm sure that will reflect favourably on me: "what's this you've been saying about us to the WP?". Compliance doubts were strongly mentioned, they may even get raised. I fucking hope not, but what can I do. What credibility do I have? 

It's abundantly clear this scheme is completely inadequate. They are ignorant of their own rules. I asked to see where the rules said I had to give my CV to them. He of course didn't have that to hand. I wasn't asked to sign a data protection waiver. I refused nothing other than to give up my rights. 

These advisers don't really listen; everything is pre-programmed and has to follow a set pattern or procedure. There is no flexibility nor any understanding of issues and difficulties. They want to apply for work on your behalf because all they care about is getting you employed, no matter the cost, or even if it's suitable. God alone knows what would happen if I got a letter through the door telling me I've been applied for a job I've never heard of that I don't feel I can cope with. For example, a busy shop over the Christmas period. I can't cope with that environment, but again that would be perceived as me putting up barriers, not as a genuine problem that needs to be addressed compassionately professionally and appropriately - no chance of that. I mention the shop example because they view the JSAg as their guide when it comes to short term goals. I say the system is inflexible because what's written on there is all they will consider. I tell them that working in retail isn't a goal of mine. It's there because I have no choice. How is that a goal? I also have admin written down which, like writing, I have never done as a paid job, yet they consider admin and not writing. In fact I was told I should get the JC to change that because the adviser wouldn't consider it otherwise. Why not for heaven's sake, that's the whole fucking point of this daft scheme!

Thanks for reading. I'm off to lie down in a darkened room.

Comments

  1. I feel for you, really (I know that's not much use - sorry). It's obvious your WP "provider" is completely inadequate and unable to meet our needs. Have you tried complaining to the JCP? (I suppose that's a dumn sounding question), or is it even possible to be transferred to a different provider on the WP? Surely there is some way a customer can send feedback? But I agree with you though - the whole system stinks, and even people with relatively straighforward requirements are being sold well short by this utterly laughable system.

    You have my sympathy - if that's any use. :(

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    1. Thanks, I appreciate it.

      I don't really know what to think really. Would another provider be any better? Would another adviser? Do i have any rights in this situation?

      It seems to me that these people speak only one language. They don't know how to deal with me so they call me awkward and use the penalty system within the WP to punish me. In fact that's all they know: they only see intransigence. They don't want to know what's going on or why. It's just 'compliance doubt', end of. Well, let's hope not. I'm sure he hightaield it over to the JC and told them just what he thought.

      When I tried to explain the JC thinks the WP is meant to be what we all keep hearing it is (which is precisely the point - it's meant to be more flexible than just 'that's whats on your JSAg, that's all we care about'), he wasn't interested. He wanted to know who my adviser was. I told him, twice, that I see a different person each time. I couldn't remember, or even take note, of the names of each person. Some I know, some I don't. I got the sense he wasn't having any of it. Just like being told that his own office said I didn't need to give them a CV to keep. But it's my word against theirs, and I've no doubt they'll spin it.

      I'm going to have to dig out proof on this CV thing otherwise I'm sure they'll haul me over the coals next month when my appointment next is. He really wasn't happy with me. But is that all my fault? Really? You're meant to be, to quote Christian Bale, 'fucking professional man'!

      Delete
  2. If you have a problem with your work prog provider, you should guess what go to the work programme provider, since you are under their control the JCP cant do anything, go to ICE and they say you should go to the people you have a problem with, an tell them you have a problem... argh.... You have no rights into who is your provider its random apparently but not really..I would be tempted to contact the head of the sally ann, and let them know whats being done under their name. How its making you more ill. If i had the pennies i woulkd hire you to write biting satire and poems about thw work programme ;l)

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    1. Thanks!

      I need to get my facts 100% before I start making complaints. He was adamant I should just hand over my CV and that refusal warranted such extreme punishments due to my 'putting up barriers'.

      Unfortunately the consent.me.uk site seems to be having problems.

      Rights? I should be so lucky! Who will listen? That's the real question.

      Delete
    2. Your CV is YOUR personal info, therefore you do not need to hand it over. You're doing ecaxtly the right thing by refusing to give in to this unreasonable demand.

      Your "advisor" has behaved disgracefully and his treatment of you would probably be a sackable offence in any other line of work, and despite all the possible threat of sanctions and whatnot the same principals must apply in your situation - you do not deserve to be treated so shoddily. I know it's easy for me to say but you should pursue this through whatever avenues are open to you - the providor must have some sort of formal grievance/complaints procedure you can use; this advisor is simply incompetent in the extreme. And failing that you could complain to JCP directly. People deserve better than this!!!!!

      Delete
    3. His behaviour is probably a promotion 'offence' in the topsy turvy world of the Work Programme. He is doing god's work after all!

      First things first I need to survive my signing on Friday. So i'm focussed on getting information to hand in case i have to explain to them why i'm not 'complying'. Of course that depends on what bullshit he's told them. I also worry that the JC will think i've somehow 'dobbed' them in to him, but they and everyone else have a different idea of how the WP is meant to work than the adviser - and he doesn't like that at all, demanding to know the names of specific advisers who have said such things. Even if I did have that info I wouldn't pass it on, regardless of what i think of the JC. That's out of order. The whole thing just sets you up to fail.
      After that I will pursue this. I certainly won't be seeing that bloke again, at the very least. I doubt you can change providers - and who's to say someone else would be better! But I must have the right to be seen by someone else, and preferrably not in some mouldy old church surrounded by people dressed like it was the fucking 70's!

      Thanks for the support.

      Delete
    4. Ghost whistler

      Your best bet to avoid a sanction doubt and yet still not give your complete CV is to provide it fully redacted of any personal information. Also print a (see through) watermark all over it with words such as 'not for distribution' or something similar. I can tell you how to do that if you don't know (it will also be in jpg format so that they can't amend it!).

      Delete
    5. I have thought about those options. I expect a redacted CV would blow his mind. I can imagine his reaction! He'll initiate a 'compliance doubt' for sure.

      There's no point worrying about that until they mandate me to provide a CV. Mine is done in word and it would be easy enough to put a watermark on it - or just write across the page "NOT FOR SHARING"!

      If they try and amend it themselves then they get sued.

      Delete
  3. I don't think you are doing yourself any favours by being petty and unco-operative. Why don't you just tell the person exactly what help you need, and if it's not available, why isn't it available...and what precisely is your advisor going to do about it?

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    1. Should this be about 'favours'? Surely it should be about what is correct, lawful and productive?

      You have made an error typical of those that criticise people in my position; those that criticise the WP. You assume that we do nothing and they do everything, or they try their hardest and are met with indifference. That's not true at all: i have done everything asked of me. Yet when i ask for anything - and remember these people are not acting out of kindess, it's business - I'm refused. How can I expect an adviser, untrained in mental health awareness or support, who refuses to even acknowledge what the DWP have told him, to help me?

      There's no meeting of the minds there. It's a one way street and I do not care to be threatened by someone demanding I give up my rights under the Data Protection Act so he can make some money.

      Delete
    2. Well said Ghost Whistler! There is nothing petty or un-cooperative about what you did.

      A CV has too much personal information, therefore the owner of that CV should be aware of the jobs for which they are being put forward.

      If I were in that position and got a sanction, I would refer it to the Information Commissioner's Office as a breach of privacy because that's what it is. These welfare to work providers are getting a bit above themselves.

      Delete
  4. I totally sympathise with anyone who has had the misfortune to end up on the work programme. I'm a 28 year old woman with learning difficulties and some self-esteem issues and I live with my retired mum. Prior to being made redundant last year I had worked full time since I left school in 1999. I really loved my job as it was a small office environment. Anyways I ended up on the WP this year with a company called Ingeus. A total nightmare. My advisor was unhelpful, patronising and seemed to find the fact I have a stammer amusing. I don't drive and was sent on various placements that were difficult for me to reach by public transport and threatened with sanctions if I didn't attend.

    After 9 months of this I'd simply had enough and quit JSA last month in desperation. I found out from a friend who works as a carer that I was eligible to claim carer's allowance on behalf of my nan, who's 90, disabled and lives next door to me and my mum. Mum doesn't qualify because she has a pension and some savings. I have neither so I applied online and it was approved. So I am now claiming carer's allowance at £58 a week and I am free of the awful WP for good. I still apply for suitable jobs in the meantime though. However if an when nan passes away or gets so ill so that she has to go into a care home, no way am I signing on again. The new universal job match is intrusive and the whole universal credit thing worries me. Hopefully I'll have found a job by then. If not, then I'll really start to worry. Really don't know how Ian Duncan Smith sleeps at night.

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    1. When I had my appointment with ATOS a couple of years ago they messed me around causing my benefit to stop. Fortunately this was quickly fixed. When I complained they weren't interested in expediting the process and when I asked, a few weeks into the complaint 'period' what was happening I was laughed at.
      I did get £25 'compensation' though, which is better than a slap in the face!
      If you can claim carer's allowance then good luck to you. I did the same when my father was ill. Wasn't a particularly fun time but at least it meant not having to go to the JC.
      The problem is that for most people (ie my GP) ESA means being consigned to the scrapheap. But that isn't how it's meant to work. Even those that are really sick and can't work are still being coerced to find work (as if they can compete in the labour market). This is really to artificially inflate the WP's success.
      We have to hope that the opposition to this awful government is strong enough to get them out before things really decline (as if they already haven't). Next year is going to be the make or break for the opposition.

      Delete
  5. i handed over my cv which later on in a group session was left for other job seekers to read in case they knew of any jobs for me .
    Time and time again I have asked for work but they say I am not ready I have been forced to work in a charity shop or they will stop my benefits .
    any health issues especially mental are just ignored .
    I have seen people there with severe learning difficulties who are given no help and everyone is just forced to do charity shop work as all these so called jobs they are supposed to have never appear

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    1. Disgraceful.

      This total lack of regard for security of personal data is what concerns me, especially in regard to the internet (and Universal Jobmatch) because once that data is uploaded...that's it! It's there forever.

      This is a scheme run by people with no ability or empathy whose desire to make money exceeds their provision. The end result is that people are both bullied and ignored: they are harassed to search and apply, reagrdless of suitability while the problems fundamental to their circumstance are ignored, or in some cases made worse. Harassing people that suffer from emotional poroblems, mental health problems - any problems really - can never be excused, but it's all about making money.

      Shuffling people off into charity shops is too easy. How does that really help people? I've done that before and it didnt get me anywhere: there were no opportunities to become a paid manager (the only people earning a living in that system) were nonexistent and in the end I got, well, bored. It's not a career, and in terms of experience, no one takes it seriously - especially if you are competing with people that have experience of 'proper' retail. The same goes for workfare.

      Delete
  6. yes how true I am now on the second stage of the work programme at another place they up loaded my C.V while I was there for 30 minutes as this was my induction to this particular place,next week it will probably be only 10 minutes then it's fortnightly as before on the previous parts , they have not got me one interview as someone who is very anxious all this does me no good .
    I asked the advisor to speak up as she whispered she still carried on whispering then the other advisor was shouting on the phone in the back ground. I asked the other advisor if she could repeat herself again which she declined to do .

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    1. Of course they can't guaranteee interviews. Indeed I'd be worried if they could since it must be the sole decision of the employer, not forced on them or mutually agreed by secret handshake for mutual £££.

      They still haven't gotten my CV. They won't be getting either, not unless they hold the proverbial gun to my head.

      How can it make sense to be applying for jobs on someone else's behalf? It can't look very appealing surely. The employer is going to think, "why hasn't he applied directly? Is he reluctant?"

      Delete
  7. They are puppets of the cronies of the Tory junta. It's millions in the back pockets for all the fat cats with the capital and moral vacuum needed to set up these fly-by-night 'employment' services outfits. Big bucks for the boys and grind the prols into the dirt. We really seem to be heading towards totalitarianism or revolution.

    PS In view of your imminent 2oK writing job, don't use non-words like 'gotten'.

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  8. i have just had the time i sign on at the job centre altered same day bit it could be a different time every fortnight anyone know why also how is the job hunting going

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    1. They always alter the time. Their system doesn't allow them to block book or book far ahead. At least that's what I was told.

      Delete
  9. I go to the work programme and I hate it too, at the one I go to they reimburse your bus fare, and the women acctually said to me "if you could come in less often that would be great as we would save money on giving out bus fare"...lol... fine by me.

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    1. They reimbursed mine, to be fair (not that it's a difficult thing to do).

      Delete
  10. Do I enjoy my low skilled, relatively low paid job? No, I do not, I would love to be an author or a travel writer, if I had the skills for such a career. So I am afraid I don't think it is acceptable for you to hang around on benefits until you get your dream career.

    You may not want to stack shelves for Tescos, but nobody does. Eventually you will have to get a job, even if you don't like that job. That doesn't stop you pursuing your long term goals, it just mean you can't do it at the taxpayers expense.

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    1. And what do you think my dream career is? To be the next JK Rowling; to dream up a billion dollar literary franchise in a cafe? I've made it clear that, as someone interested in (and hopefully with some aptitude for) writing, that I would look at anything I could use my skills in. What's wrong with that?

      What is the point of having an education system at all if people are most likely going to end up stacking shelves? Isn't the argument that 'someone has to do it' a bit feeble? What is wrong with helping people achieve reasonable goals - I'm not suggesting I be subsidised to win the FA Cup, the X Factor, or go into space. I'm suggesting that, perhaps instead of wasting money on a failing work programme, we help people use their talents skills and interests productively. Everything else is a race to the bottom.

      The problem is you are buying into the existing paradigm which isn't working, hasn't worked, and isn't going to work. The only people that benefit from thinking as you do are the people making money from it: your boss at Tescos for example. And do these people care about your welfare as an employee - no, because there's a ready pool of cheap labour (unemployment is programmed into the system) conditioned to accept and even seek out such work.

      I'm not opposed to working per se. I'm opposed to work that is pointless self defeating unproductive and unfulfilling. We cannot go on as socity as we are. We need to change course and start taking people's lives into account. Ppeople are human beings not drones for the benefit of the few while the rest get discarded.

      Delete
  11. What's the point of the work program, i show my job search to them and the job centre, so im just repeating myself weird.

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    1. Unfortunately that is the point.

      It's just a giant waste of everyone's time and money. It hasn't the resources nor the ability to do anything else.

      Delete

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