On the 1st I wrote a letter of complaint to the Salvation Army regarding my adviser who has behaved, in my opinion, quite poorly. I feel him to be an ignorant bully. That letter has yet to arrive so this morning I had no option but to ring up and discuss this personally. Yet another insight into a world gone mad.
I get through to the line manager concerned. I try to explain how the adviser has ignored my medical information which, initially, she confirms they have, as passed on by the DWP. I say initially because when I later said that back to her she decided to hedge her bets.
Instead of initially discussing the guy's behaviour she points out that I'm on JSA, that's what her system (correctly) tells her. This means that there's nothing they can do because people on JSA have to be treated a certain way. They have to do jobsearch, apply for jobs and basically do everything the Jobseeker Agreement sets out. I know this. I explain that's what I've been doing and that I show the JC this each time I sign on. But the Work Programme needs you to do this as well. So not only do you have to do what the JC want you to do, you have to do what the WP wants.
She mentioned Universal Jobmatch and agreed when I quickly pointed out it wasn't mandatory, but it seems that only counts as far as the JC is concerned. So because you have to jobsearch while on the Work Programme I'd have to register with UJ - the mandatory requirement is only from the JC side of things. The WP can compel you to do so as well, it seems. It sounds almost as if they are expecting JSA claimants to do everything twice: once to satisfy the JC requirement to sign on, and then a second time according to how the provider wants it done. I hope that's not true.
But I'm trying to explain the adviser's behaviour, and predictably she's not really interested in taking what I say on board without making excuses: "i'm sure that's not what he meant", etc. She decides that I must be on the wrong benefit. Now that's not entirely untrue, but I explain that my GP doesn't want to write a sick note and wants you, the WP, to help me find the right kind of work and give me the right kind of support, regardless of whether or not I claim ESA. Here's the problem: that, according to her, isn't possible. It is either JSA or ESA. This means that anyone found capable of work by the WCA will end up on the Woprk Programme on JSA, so regardless if you're on dialysis with no liver, or in a wheelchair, you will be put thorugh the programme as if you were absolutely physically fine.
The really sick part of this is that they have further and different options for people that are on ESA. These will not be available unless you are claiming ESA, regardless of how ill you actually are! This is insanity! She asked me what I was interested in so I told her I was interested in writing - something the adviser was quick to do no more than rubbish. She quickly responded saying she knew of 3 writing courses. I asked her why the adviser couldn't offer me these options (whether these courses amount to anything is another matter however) and support me thus - because I'm on JSA! This bespoke (their words, by the way) service is nothing of the sort; there is no flexibility at all. It's hobson's choice and all dependent on what benefit you receive.
She pointed out they are not medically trained and I pointed out that, even if I were to claim ESA (nevermind that getting a sick note will be a herculean task of persuasion, but passing the WCA will be the impossible), I'd still be with them. She said they can refer me to different agencies that specialise in support.
On the plus side my appointment for next week has been changed to a meeting with her in the middle of January. I was adamant I would not see the adviser again - for all the good that will do. In the meantime I have another appointment with my GP next week and I will have to move heaven and earth to persuade him that the only option for support requires him sign me off. This is patently ridiculous. I don't really fancy my chances, but according to the Work Programme itself, I have to claim ESA - a benefit that the government doesn't want anyone to have.
This whole ridiculous scheme seems to take with the one hand what it gives with the other. No wonder it's failed so badly.