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...Into the Fire?

So now I have to make a claim for ESA! At the worst possible time of year to do so!

I rang on Tuesday: it's either that or pay the library a small fortune to print out the entire form (57 pages at 20p a pop). I don't own a printer. 

The gentleman starts to take my claim. You have to allow them to go through the process at their own pace because they have a very strict script that includes all sorts of legal stuff that you cannot interrupt. Ok, that's fair enough, some people will have complex answers and they need to understand what they are saying. Never mind the fact that ESA is explained as a benefit for those too sick to work which in practise it isn't (otherwise why would there be a Work Related Activity Group, which I'm trying to get into so the Government's own support systems can actually do their job).

Unfortunately there is a glitch. One that, when I tried ringing back today, is persistent: if you have made a prior ESA claim then it can fuck up the system. Details of that claim are retained which, somehow, get in the way of a subsequent claim. To be fair to the woman on the phone today she was apologetic about it (not her fault): they know it's bullshit but it isn't getting fixed anytime soon. It's a persistent known issue. 

This means they have to send out a claim form to fill in. This was done on Tuesday, but god knows when it will arrive. I wasn't sure it was actually posted since the guy I spoke to then put me on hold for 20 minutes to sort it out (he must have actually gone to the post department and put it in the envelope personally) and then I got cut off!

While in town doing my shopping yesterday morning (ie when it's less busy - though still busy enough that if I stop moving my brain feels like I'm drowning in a sea of people, supermarket shelves, indoor lighting and jingle bells - there's something about indoor lighting that really gets to me), I wen to the JC. Maybe I could pick up a form directly. Of course not! Never mind that the desk clerk couldn't just go and look, they were 'out of stock'. He tried to fob me off by getting me to use the phone, which clearly I can't. I explained this and he went and looked. I don't really understand how the JC manages to not have any ESA forms, but they didn't. I guess I will just have to wait and hope it doesn't get lost in transit like the letter I posted to the Salvation Army on the 1st which is now technically MIA. I tried the CAB but they don't have forms either.

You'd think that transferring a claim from J to ESA would be actually relatively simple; especially in the case of someone that doesn't have a lot of personal information to track whose personal details are the same in each case (where applicable). Surely I could just post in the sicknote and everything's fine. But nothing is ever easy with this system - and that's before we get Universal Credit next year!

Comments

  1. Bureaucracy eh? What an unholy mess. Of course, it would be relatively simple to streamline the system to make transfers of claims from JSA to ESA easy, or to enable the deletion of a prior claim of ESA so a new claim can be made easily. But I think, in a way the endless bureaucracy is government's way of controlling claimant. If the system was quick and easy that would come across as giving claimants too much leeway, or making our lives easy - and we can't have that can we? Government's obsessive need to control every aspect of our lives is the problem - every penny has to be accounted for, and every box has to be ticked. Of course, the irony is these systems are expensive and wasteful, and take up more time and money than is necessary. And we can expect things to get even worse when Universal Credit comes along next year (or the year after if some rumours are to be believed!)

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    1. The problem is that UC won't fix any of this. If UC was in place now, i'd still have to claim for a different benefit, even if it's all under the UC umbrella. Someone claiming UC because they are simply unemployed will have their own entry point and application process to someone that's applying on the grounds of ill health - just the same as now. IDS' grand scheme is merely a superficial sop that will hid a great deal of problems beneatht he surface.

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  2. I hope you're able to get on to ESA soon. When I applied I phoned then they phoned me back at a designated time. Then they sent the form out to me, and I think I had to sign it and send it back. I've been on ESA (wrag) for 3 years now and I don't feel they have a very useful support system in place for us. It's just a continuation of the 'one size fits all' attitude with them pretending otherwise. But hopefully it'll treat you better than the awful JSA system.

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    1. Thanks. There was no mention of any kind of call back, they just proceeded until they hit the glitch. I tried again today and that's when I found out that this problem is persistent. I don't really have a problem with filling in a form it's just waiting for the post right now. It might arrive tomorrow, saturday, xmas eve, or never!

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    2. as someone who used to work for the dwp checking a2/jsa 2 forms.. I would say check, double check, triple check, get a photocopy and fill it in there first. then check that. I was told that anything and i mean anything that was odd on the form it went straight to the fraud department.

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    3. Good advice.

      To be fair in the past the only problems i've had have come from the call centre, not the actual processing people.

      I have managed to find a JC with a hardcopy ESA form (while I wait for the post), however i was warned it might be out of date as it's dated October last year. I have no idea if that makes a difference, the online form is dated more recently but I have no idea if that makes a difference.

      I was meant to sign on this morning and, well, didn't. I posted off the booklet with my declaration of signing off on Wednesday via recorded delivery. I'm not sure whether I should ring them up; don't want any shenanigans now that i've got the last JSA payment early (they might think that, as the money is advanced early, i'm taking the piss somehow).

      Every step forward there's two steps back.

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    4. phone them..cover your back..let them record you posted it on that date.. make sure you have the receipt. Dont trust them in the slightest. Think the worst and prepare for it.

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    5. Well, if they don't answer the phone there ain't much I can do! It's on 0845 number to get through to JSA and, predictably, they are perpetually busy. Probably because anyone who goes into a JC and asks for help is also directed to the phones.

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  3. It looks like Universal Jobmatch will be compulsory for JSA claimants in the new year. I'm not sure if it will be the same for those on ESA, but if not it looks like you claimed for ESA just in time!

    Link here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/dec/20/unemployed-forced-government-job-website

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    1. Yes this seems to be doing the rounds. I'm really not convinced they legally have the right to do this, but of course who wants to argue with a potential sanction. Even with the law on your side you'd likely have to extricate yourself from that which means waiting months for an appeal with no income. I think they are hopeing people will be frightened enough to just give up their rights, because they can't get you on the system otherwise. I hope people can stand firm, but I don't know how long I'd hold out.

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