- Jobs applied for today: None!
- My petulance level: v high
- Bottles of wine consumed: Currently in progress…
- Time contemplating travel v staying in the UK: a lot!
- Chocolate consumed: 1 kitkat, so far…
- Blood pressure: v high!
Where to start, hmmm, I know – JSA (Job Seekers Allowance) and the lack of help settling back into the UK versus my own performance and effort so far…..
Things to bear in mind:
- I have no real history of claiming any form of help from the government.
- Have worked over 90% of my working life doing just that – working!
- Just got back from abroad after being away for 3 years and 7 months.
- My circle / network of support is fairly limited as a result of being away for said period.
So, not yet been back for 2 whole weeks and already wondering if I can call this part of the world ‘home’.
Lets start with my own progress so far….
- Attended 1 (probably unsuccessful) interview, after gaining a very useful and resourceful contact from TCAT (Telford College of Art and Technology).
- Recruitment Agencies registered with is up to about 5 or 6 now, and counting…
- Positions applied for are at least in the double figures now.
- Time spent filling in Job Centre forms and updating the new (compulsory) ‘Universal Jobmatch’ system is countless and am not going to even try keeping score there.
- Visits to the Job Centre – 3… so far…
- UK Bank account finally obtained (major headache obtaining that with new legislation), doctor visited once (for blood pressure probs), library membership obtained (for computer/printer usage mostly, but that seems to be a hassle to book anyway) and housing advice sought – not very helpful though and a little bit pointless, as my current state of housing is not deemed bad/desperate enough… (sharing a one bedroom flat with a friend and couch surfing)
OK, so compare that to the hassle I’ve had trying to claim some/any level of support from the government (Job Centre)…
First trip was a more in depth interview, due to time spent away from ‘home’.
Second trip involved a ‘group information session’ and lasted all of 10-15 minutes, learnt nothing and given a load of handouts. Pretty pointless and perfunctory.
Third trip, and this is the killer! This one was called the ‘Compliance Office Meeting‘! I have never been so insulted and demeaned, ever. But I do know 3 or 4 different routes to their office now 😉
Anyway, I spent the night googling what this was all about and most of the web sites were not comforting. Apparently, some refer to these meetings as Benefit Fraud Inspection interviews! It turns out that there was an element of mis-trust over my current (temporary) living conditions… They are refusing to help financially until they are satisfied with the information received today – nearly 2 weeks after requesting said help…
Due to the fact that I am claiming ‘income based’ or ‘means tested’ JSA (because I wasn’t able to pay National Insurance Contributions from abroad) they wanted to establish how much financial help I am getting, without their help and question my relationship with my friend, who has only put me up suddenly and temporarily/until I can find my own feet (after being away for so long), before deciding if I have any form of eligibility.
The questions were very direct, intrusive and very irrelevant (in my opinion). I mean what does it matter what we do when/if we are sitting in the lounge together (him studying mostly and me reading), if we have mutual friends or how ‘others’ see us??? The level of details required were quite astonishing! The fact that I have had a bit of cash and managed to support myself since I returned is not good enough apparently (and thank goodness another very dear friend provided a small loan which has helped out a lot). I have also now had to use spare cash, reserved for a bill in the Netherlands – so that bill is going to be delayed 😦 Are they waiting for me to be on the street before showing any form of support? :O
I am just flabbergasted at the cheek of it all. I appreciate that there is a lot of fraudulent stuff going on in the country, but to think that someone who barely asks for help from family (let alone anyone outside it) and has an ok / impressive work history would suddenly become a benefit cheat is incomprehensible! Welcome fsking home indeed! And all this is while I am expected to both find my own place and a job, by their rules. I am now so demoralised and morally outraged.
I now have to call their office tomorrow to see if they have made a decision “in my favour” :O Oh, and I have to see them next week too. I am spending more time talking / visiting them / using the stupid system than actually doing what I need to be doing. Do they think I choose to live this way? This is all circumstantial and not meant to be long lasting
Some may say that I’ve made my own bed etc – but I haven’t done anything wrong, just tried to live a life the way I preferred. And, it was never my intention to come back to the UK and end up in ‘shit creek, without a paddle’.
So, I have written the day off and am finding comfort and solace in a bottle, with some comforting music. After all the hard work I’ve put in since arriving back, such a short time ago, I have decided that enough is enough and need to kick back, instead of being hard on myself and giving it all ‘above and beyond the call of duty’! I have tried being the model citizen, struggling quietly and patiently, taking it all in and doing it all by the book. However, it’s not easy to re-adjust to such a harsh reality in your own country, and I am bitterly disappointed with it so far. I now need to try and ensure my feet don’t start wanting to travel away from it again… as am just getting too old for that.
They are unable to state whether I am eligible for JSA, still. Apparently, they have up to 14 working days from the date of claim just to make that decision, before even beginning to process any payments. Until then, there is no help!