“ Job Centre Plus is a governement agency assisting those out of work and looking to re-enter the work force. „
I tried to commit suicide yesterday unfortunately I was found..
JOBCENTRE RUINED MY LIFE!!!!!
I really feel for anyone unfortunate enough to have to use this service. I have had to use it 3 times in the past and am on my 4th stint, although fingers crossed the agency I'm with can find enough work for me to sign off, or that something else will come up.
The only good thing about it is the website, which has a fair amount of jobs. However whenever I applied for jobs using this site I'd never say I'd found the vacancy through the Jobcentre, as the employers are more likely to write me off as a scrounger who is only applying to satisfy the conditions of his benefit. 99% of the time I wouldn't get a reply anyway, but such is the current jobs market.
Often the benefits processing centres are slow to process claims and any information on progress has to be forcibly extracted from them. On 2 or 3 occasions they have lost information supposedly recorded on the initial phone call, necessitating sitting in there for an extra 30-40 minutes going through all the information again.
When you try to call them up, often you are kept waiting for 20 minutes or more (I've been on hold 45 mins once, after which I was hung up on because the call centres had closed for the day) just to speak to someone, and even then half the time they tell you to call a different number. There are so many different options and menus, many of which sound similar, and it is sometimes difficult to get the right one.
Now, the jobcentre "advisers" are supposedly there to help unemployed people find work. However in my experience, although there are some helpful staff, they are few and far between. To the rest of them, anyone who walks in through those doors is a scrounger and is looked upon as almost subhuman. It doesn't matter if you've been signing on 2 weeks or 2 decades - the reason you're there is because you don't want to work. They're supposed to treat people like they would in any other customer service job - yeah right! Whenever I go in there, I'm spoken to like a child and I constantly overhear similar conversations going on around me. Whenever I put a question or a query to an adviser, most of the time they are unable to give me a proper answer.
2 weeks ago, I had an experience with the worst-mannered JCP adviser I've ever met (and that is saying something). She constantly interrupted and condescended to me. As I was setting up a new claim, she asked what jobs I'd had. I listed the most recent one and waited for her to type the information into her computer. She then said "anything before that?" I said yes, she asked me to specify, so I listed the 8 or 9 jobs I'd had before that. Without typing anything, she said "okay so we'll just say you've had a variety of jobs then". She then asked if I had a CV, I said yes, and her response was "who wrote it for you?". Now I'm not a person who is scared to ask for help with stuff, but writing a CV certainly isn't something I need help with. I actually thought it quite humorous that she would assume my CV was written for me, and I mentioned this. Her response was "what work are you going to get with an attitude like that?". Now this didn't sit well with me, I explained to her that there was nothing wrong with my attitude and I was simply pointing out that people can write their own CVs. She then got very defensive and said "there is no point us sitting here and arguing, and because you've been so ill-mannered to me I might have to refer it to a decision maker and it could affect your benefit". Not that I'd received any benefit yet, I simply said that if she wanted to tell her superior that I'd been "ill-mannered" then she should do just that, but I had in fact been polite and calm throughout (which was difficult). She then backed down and suggested we start afresh. After that she said very bluntly that it was "wrong" to use the same CV for every job application and that each one should be tailored to each individual application. I said I wasn't going to heed her advice - that's what a cover letter is for. She then got very defensive and condescending once again. She said that I might be referred to one of these "employability skills" courses where they teach you how to search for jobs and write a CV for you (yes, you read correctly) 3 days a week for 5 weeks. I said I had already been on such a course less than 12 months ago and it had done absolutely nothing for me, to which she simply said "well I'm afraid you'll have to do it again".
After that, I wrote a very long complaint direct to DWP by email. The response I got, from this woman's manager, said that there was a witness to the conversation (obviously one of her colleagues) and that both her and the witness had given a different version of events to the one I gave. Basically, she wasn't condescending at all and the interview was conducted properly. Well, if threatening to stop someone's benefit because they calmly pointed out a moronic assumption is proper conduct, then that's a real shame. This bad experience is only one of many, and the only time I've bothered to complain about it. What a joke. I appreciate that these staff have to deal with feckless morons, but that's no excuse for this behaviour and if they don't like dealing with people they should get a different job.
Day one: Thursday 01.08.2013
on Thursday last, for the second time in two weeks, Jobseekers Allowance did not hit my account.
Hoping for similar situation as two weeks ago (when I rang their call centre at 10.30am, and was informed that my money will be in the account that same day, between 1-6pm), I rang them again just to be told by the advisor that the day in the week to transfer funds is Friday (Thursday was the day, at least for few times payment actually came through).
To my surprise a different advisor called me 2 hours later, to say that my JSA has been stopped, because: 'we called your number and someone told us you were out of the country'. Left speechless for a couple of seconds (I never left UK after applying for the contribution-based JSA of mine), and even forgot to mention re my first chat on the phone on Thursday, the kind advisor has advised I visit Jobcentre Plus in person and fill... HONESTY STATEMENT, that will certify my story. Absolutely flabbergasted (such an event is undreamt of, even in my native Poland).
Funny, the latter advisor sugested I ask the Jobcentre Plus Officer to fax my statement on the same day and also help me to call Benefit Centre to confirm. Alas, at the Jobcentre the wee tipsy consultant, after receiving my statement, refused to call or let me call Benefit Centre, saying I should rather call the day after, and assuring she would mail my statement.
Day two: Friday 02.08.2013
9am. Called Benefit Centre, they had no note of the fax ('on the system') and kindly mentioned I go to Jobcentre and ask to 'note the system' the fax has been sent.
Went there, was shown the fax with 01.08.2013 date on it and got a promise it'll be 'noted on the system'.
Waited till 12am, further advisor at Benefit Centre (at 12AM-check your recordings 'for training purposes', please) was told:
'The Jobcentre hasn't released the suspension'. When I asked, how , in God's name, is that possible, since I went there in person and the fax has been sent, advisor replied 'No matter what they say, they have to release the suspension'.
Was also told it can take 3-5 days for MY MONEY to be released.
But can I trust it?
Day three: Saturday 03.08.2013
my nice Scottish neighbour said:
'who will keep the sweet interest out of, say £225.000 held in a bank account, over this 4-5 day-period,
(equal to, if there were only, c. 1.000 people in UK my situation, this week. and there are 52 weeks in any year.
You sign a contract between both parties where you pledge to search for work using the infamous Universal Job Match (otherwise you are sanctioned) in return for a pittance token gesture irrespective of the copious amounts you have paid into the system for years. They "fine" you 3 days waiting when first unemployed then take several weeks to finalise the first payment before you receive anything at all. Then intermittently forget to pay you the pittance on the due payment date and leave you waiting up to another week without any money at all. Daring to telephone them involves several security questions then a 45 minute wait listening to soothing classical music before even coming into contact with a human voice. The voice then informs you that you have falied the security questions (they have keyed the data in wrongly in their haste for yet another tea-break) and the computer has locked you out - so you will have to ring back. Two hours of effort later they have only just authorised your pittance payment so you will just have to wait for it to go into your bank which then takes another 7 days - must be the slowest BACCS system in the world! Who sanctions them for failing to honour their part of the binding contract? Who penalises them for hoodwinking the masses who are forced to depend on them?
A 5 mile radius search of UJM returned 40 pages of 1406 jobs. 684 jobs were outdated and closed to further application. 50 jobs were advertised for Feb 2014 - when questioned the advisor explained that some companies recruit well in advance. What a whole 2 years in advance? Well the Olympics did. Didn't realise the Olympics were coming to a non- descript run down town. 25 jobs had been advertised 6 months in advance. 1 job was for 20 hours a week - Mon to Fri 2 hours per day which by my calculation adds up to 10 hours not 20. 495 jobs were after thoughts by agencies. 126 jobs were for very part time of which 1 was for 2.5 hours per week; another unpaid; another voluntary; 3 were temporary and 3 had no forward link to the job description.
Out of 1406 jobs only 26 were for full-time positions and 1 of those was for a Lithuanian interpretor with the remaining 25 dependant on particular skills and experience.
At last a new store is set to open and they are recruiting for staff. UJM only has ONE vacancy listed on it's site. When enquiring why UJM had failed to advertise ALL the new jobs my advisor informed me that one vacancy job description fitted all so they only advertised the singular one. Since when has a singular 7.5 hour job description fitted a shelf stacker; security; cleaner; check-out operative; manager and assistant manager? I will just have an application form then - oh sorry all the unadvertised vacancies have now been filled! How do you expect me to get a job when you don't put valid ones on UJM?
Off my own initiative I got a zero hours job, better on CV than unemployment but a condition of that zero hours contract was having to pay £44 for a CRB check. Out of a joint income based JSA claim I now contribute the majority of the money, in effect I pay my own and some of my spouses JSA and the wages are merely topped up a few quid to what the law says we are legally entitled to live on. The Jobcentre counted the deducted £44 CRB check as disposable income as "I did not have to pay it". If I had not paid it then I would not have got the job and I would not be paying my own jobseekers allowance thus saving the government money. Instead on my first month I am a whole £44 poorer for working than if I had not made any effort at all.
If this organisation was a privately run concern they would be out of business. They are completely disorganised chaos who are allowed to govern other peoples lives with autonomous impunity and they are an absolute national disgrace! They do not even merit a one star which I have been obliged to use as a rating - in reality they are off the richoter scale!
I worked for 6 years in retail at over 20+ stores all over the country, I went from the bottom to a managerial role, for the first three years I was also studying IT at college.
When I lost my job I didn't know what benefits or anything I could recieve so I went to the job centre and signed up for JSA, I applied for every job I could with them but the only response I got was from a fake company that was just trying to steal money from unsuspecting job seekers.
I complained that they should check the jobs they list more thourily and even I was able to check with company house and see they had used another companies number but they just said they couldn't do anything about it.
A year passed of absolutely no interviews and I was lucky to just get a letter or anything back saying no thanks.
It wasn't like I was only searching for a job as an astronaut I was applying for any job I had even an inkling of experience in but nothing.
I was then offered unpaid work experience at Poundland which isn't below me at all but I completely disagreed with the experience part considering my 6 years of experience in the same sort of business and my local Poundland is just full of work experience people from what I gather.
I said if it was a job or even a trial for a job then that would be fine because I know how to work in that kind of business and should be paid for it and they basically said they could see I wasn't bothered to work, there's a big difference between work and work experience!!
Anyway a few months later I was referred to the work programme, I was told they would provide training which sounded really good to me as I could finally learn some new things and maybe find a job in a different sector.
Also I started an application with the Army at this time which didn't take away from my time searching for work but meant I had an alternative if successful, I was told by the job centre that the Army wasn't a real job and I would be breaking my agreement by going on any sort of training or selection with them so I couldn't continue with them.
I went to the work programme and it was nothing like what was explained to me, they wanted me to sign a contract to be put into work for up to 40 hours in anything they deemed suitable for me and the lady actually used Poundland as an example.
I explained I wasn't comfortable giving Serco that sort of control over me, as they could basically say I didn't comply and cut my money when ever they wanted, I was then told the contract meant nothing and just by walking through there door I had agreed which is crazy! I then left and for the next 3 months got bounced between the job centre and Serco until I just couldn't take it anymore because I had no money and was sanctioned for 8 months anyway.
I signed off and it's been about a year now and I still have nothing and can't find a job anywhere, I've become very depressed and just feel like suicide is the last option.
Honestly if you have any other option at all then please take it before turning to the job centre as it may just destroy your life like it has mine.
When i was on JSA i was required to go onto the work program. So like an idiot i did.
i worked for free for 8 weeks at the poundland store in Manchester Arcades and then 8 weeks in Ashton Under Lyne poundland store. what makes it even worse is i was told by the jobcentre AND the managers of both stores at the time i had to work 29 hours a week... so AGAIN like a fool i did what they said i had to do to keep on jsa..
now i hear that people who refused to go on the work program can reclaim but all those people including me who worked for FREE cant claim any money back for the hours worked for free!
i think this is a joke and i feel like because i wasted 4 months of my life working for free with no job at the end of it, i should be paid compensation from either poundland or the jobcentre for working for free for so many hours!! but again i've been screwed over as theres no compensation at all for me and the thousands of other people who was made to work for free... poundland should pay EVERYONE who HAD to work for free and if that means they go bust that would be their problem.
Jobcentreplus or Job Centre Plus is a UK government agency that assists public find work and claim benefits. They also process and issue the National Insurance (NI) Card by interviewing public after initial booking of an appointment over phone or mobile.
I have had mixed experience from various jobcentreplus offices. The first office I checked with was Lewisham Job Centre Plus on Lewisham High Street. The most visited jobcentreplus office is the one located on Denmark Street, 2 minitues away from Tottenham Court Road Tube Station. I have to admit that while a lot of the employees of jobcentreplus as a whole are helpful and willing to give necessary information about jobs and other information, a great deal of them simply are not trained well to deliver relevant information.
I have come across a lot of arrogant jobcentreplus staff who seem to have got no interest in even talking to you, let alone providing any information. I have not claimed benefits ever, so I am not able to comment about how they deal with public on benefits issues. Nevertheless, I got my second job through a North London jobcentreplus office. I got invited for job interview on a few occasions and I was offered jobs eventually. Therefore, I have had very good luck with them. I believe that if anybody look for job diligently through jobcentreplus, pop in there from time to time and know how and where to look for jobs, they will become successful in their job hunting mission.
Now a few things about how to search for a job. There are many touch-screen machines in there which will allow you to choose your area, the job type you are interested in, and apply for them. However, there are unnecessarily a lot of clicks involved to apply for a job, which could be simplified. Apart from touch-screen machines, there might be job applications available through advertisers to fill out and apply in there. There are free phone services to call employers. They have an Internet version too where applying for jobs is easier, and chances of getting job interviews are greater.
Job Centre Plus is a great place to find a solution to unemployment, however, the employees working for it need to be more professional and dedicated to serve the public to their satisfactions.
Job Centre Plus. The new name for the same brand of unhelpful 'advice' doled out by our government. I've heard the Job Centre referred to the 'Joke Centre' before and I completely agree. They really are a joke and I fail to see why millions of pounds is spent on these centres, the employees and all the resources they use up.
Let me think back to when I had a first hand experience with the Job Centre. I was 15. My sister was taking a gap year and looking for work, so she signed onto Job Seekers Allowance (an allowance every two weeks paid out to unemployed people.) I used to go the Job Centre with her where I found them to be quite proactive - hell I was even allowed to take a seat next to her while an advisor sat there as she called up employers and the advisor looked for local jobs on the computer. Great. Customer service. No issues. And they were in fact quite brilliant at the time. But we're talking 10 years ago.
So fast forward to when I was 21 and was out of work for a few weeks. I had to attend my work-focussed interview and I wanted to create a good impression, dress up as if I was going for a job interview - or an office job - and was determined that my full time job while I was out of work was to find a job. Well the interview went well but it was a re-run of all the forms and telephone calls I'd had previously, I found it to be a waste of time and a bit pencil pusher-y.
On top of this it took them some time to sort out my money - so I was stuck borrowing from my parents. Not the ideal scenario but they were happy to help if it meant I was on the path to finding work. So, every morning I was dressed and washed before 9am. I'd make plans, lists and write down names of people to talk too, all the while filling out the little book the Job Centre give you to keep a track of how you're looking for work. I filled that book within the two weeks and was proud of myself.
I went for my fortnightly interview with the advisor, to check you're looking for a job and so they can check your progress report. Also to perhaps discuss further options. Or not.
The advisor looked at my book, chuckled and said; "Well this is a novelty, I haven't seen someone so keen to find work."
Um, what? Surely if someone is slacking on their JSA promises, they should be taken off the JSA? No. Because there is a minimum you promise to do and if you keep up these standards you'll be able to continue claiming JSA. Of course now the government is shifting towards their precious Welfare Reform Bill and unemployed people will be expected to work for £2 an hour in shops...I digress ;).
So that first time I was on JSA, I wasn't sure how much of a damn they gave. They certainly did a lot less than they had previously done with my sister, but it didn't matter because *I* had the self-motivation to find a job, so I would find one with or without the Job Centre's help.
Eventually I found a job in London and moved down there after several other job offers - none offered the package that this job did, hence why I took it.
My next experience with the Job Centre was brief. I returned to Scotland after getting married and an illness brought me home. I was now living with my husband, trying to claim JSA so we could live but they said my husband earned too much (which I have since found was untrue!) for me to claim. Luckily I was able to quickly get a job locally and we were doing okay until that horrible day when we both lost our jobs - mine was a temporary contract and my husband developed severe anxiety problems about his job. He took some time off, which his employer was generous about and said the job was always his should he return.
Well, he didn't return to work and we had to think about what to do next. JSA seemed the best solution because my husbands condition was so up and down - we needed a steady income and we needed jobs (or at least I needed a job.) We applied for JSA and they made me jump through so many hoops because I had changed my name through marriage. It was fine once it was sorted, just a headache (the birth year on my birth certificate was different to that on my passport because the registrar had messed it up so the Job Centre staff had to go trawling through old records on me. Nightmare.)
The advisor's at the Job Centre were polite, helpful and genuinely wanted people to find work - or at least that's my impression and I have since found it varies from Centre to Centre.
The admin side of things, at HQ, well they are something to be desired. They closed our claim 6 weeks into the claim, without giving us notice - or money. We called them up and they said they wouldn't back date any money to us. We were financially screwed but LUCKILY family bailed us out. My sister would visit, buying us shopping and supplies some of the time, same as my Aunt and my parents secretly put money into my account. I hadn't asked for anyone's help, but they all knew the situation and pitched in.
Without that help we would have been evicted from our flat and seeing as I was unknowingly pregnant at the time I don't like to think what would have happened to my son had I not been receiving help to buy food. Perhaps we could have applied for a crisis loan, but I didn't know such things existed back then. Plus that still takes time to come through and I didn't want to rely on the system that failed me in the first place.
In the end what saved us was when I became a student and got my student loan in. Funnily enough there were no real problems with that yet the Department of Work and Pensions closed my claim and were as heartless as to say we'd have to starve - I think their customer service rep literally said this.
I would body swerve any kind of welfare/benefit and the Job Centre. They went from being helpful, courteous and pro-active to a bunch of pencil pushing jobs worth's (but they're not worth the jobs they do!)
Apologies in advance to anyone who works at one of these Job Centres, I've been stung badly and I don't have good things to say about my experiences! On the whole the staff were rude and just wanted to be rid of you. A lot of the time I'd go in and they wouldn't even look over my book, just get me to sign the form and I'd be gone. Sometimes after waiting up to 40 mins just for a 1 minute appointment? Get a grip!
Although here's something positive: *some* of the Job Centre staff actually admitted that they were bound by a lot more red tape and so spent more time form filling than doing actual customer service. I don't know if that's true but it put my mind at ease.
Everyone has heard of the Job Centre. They are a government agency, created to assist the public find work, and claim benefits whilst they are doing so.
I graduated from university in July 2010 with a 2.1 degree in Psychology. I managed to find temporary work, but this came to an end in October. I was left with no option but to visit the Job Centre and attempt to claim Job Seekers Allowance. This was something I had desperately been trying to avoid. I see the Job Centre on my way into the city centre, and it is an awful looking place. There's always a gang of teenagers hanging around outside in their tracksuit bottoms with their Tesco value lager. This was not a place I wanted to go, but jobless and moneyless, I had no option.
I completed the initial claims form online. This was quite a simple, though lengthy process. As you would expect, they want to know every single detail about your life so make sure you have all the relevant paper work nearby. You can also complete your initial claim over the telephone if you do not have access to a computer. Once you have completed the form you have to wait up to two working days for a phone call from JCP who will then make an appointment for you at your local job centre. In my case, they rang the next day, and my appointment was just a few days later.
Because I am under 25, I had to go to a group session at my initial meeting. They went through all the obvious things, where to look for work, how to build a CV, that sort of thing. I then had a meeting with my personal advisor. He went over the form I had completed online, checking everything was correct, and that was that. I was given my signing day, which was the same day every week.
Signing on was an experience I was dreading. I did not really know what to expect. However, it really is the simplest process, and I was normally out of the job centre within five minutes. I found it quite disheartening. Not once at any point whilst I was signing on did any of the staff do a job search on their system for me, or look at the extensive list of jobs I had applied for. I would tell them about any interviews I had lined up, but they were not interested. All they ask is what you have been doing to find work so they can check the boxes on their computer and process the money. I was expecting a little more help, and having had this experience I am not surprised so many people get stuck in the system, either through choice or because they just simply do not know how to look for work.
Thirteen Week Meeting
Despite applying for hundreds of jobs, thirteen weeks later I was still having no luck, and received a letter inviting me to a thirteen week interview. This again began with a group session. I found this an extremely patronising experience. We were talked to like we were thick, and this was the reason we was still here. They went over a lot of the same information supplied during the initial meeting, and I did come out feeling like it was a waste of time and money unfortunately.
I then had another meeting with a personal advisor. He went through a lot of information and explained what was happening. I was now going to be moved on to stage two. However, rather than just sticking to the guidelines set out in front of him, he gave me another option. He asked if I would like to be moved on to stage three. During this stage there is an opportunity to find work through the Future Jobs Funds. To summarise, the JCP pay your wages, but these are real jobs, 25 hours a week and minimum wage, but it is a job. He showed me through some of the opportunities and there was a vacancy which jumped out at me. It was exactly the area I wanted to get into. I asked him to go ahead and move me on to the next stage. He did this, and rang the company to refer me for the vacancy and arrange an interview. This man went out of his way for me. He did not have to do this, and in fact ended up going over my allotted time slot to get it all sorted out.
I had the interview for the FJF job yesterday, and two hours later I received the phone call to say I have got the job! It is far from perfect, but it is a start, and without the Job Centre a job I would not have got.
I can see why the Job Centre Plus has such a bad reputation. Some of the staff are useless, and would benefit from more training. Some are patronising, they assume you do not want a job, that you want to be there, and for me this could not have been further from the truth. However there are people there that want to help you, who want to make sure they never see your face again, in the nicest possible way! It's just a shame all those within the JCP are tarred with the same brush.
I have to agree with some of the points raised about the arrogance of job centre/DWP staff on this forum. While i appreciate that they have to hit targets or at least be seen to, i feel that they treat everyone with the same contempt - if you're in there, you're workshy and think the world owes you a living. While they obviously have to deal with a minority of benefit scroungers not everyone fits into that category and most people i've met in there are desperately seeking work. There are people like myself who actually dread going into the place. It's one of the negative places i've ever had to be subjected to.
I had been employed for 16 years (until May of last year) by the same employer since leaving school and taking on an engineering apprenticeship at the age of 16. Unfortunately due to circumstances beyond my control i have been forced to seek the services of Job Centre plus; I was made redundant, as have many people on here due to the current recession. Im applying for positions, although with the way the economy is a lot of the prospective employers are actually reluctant to recruit new staff.
To cut a long story short, i visit the job centre once every 2 weeks, surf the internet for jobs, i have registered with employment agencies and send speculative letters/cv's to potential employers every week. Although i have an Electronics degree im not afraid to apply to or work in another field. In my eyes any job is better than no job at all. I would happily work for min wage until something better came up. Im even prepared to offer my services for free to gain experience in another area and keep myself busy.
My main gripe is that the job centre are asking me to apply for positions requiring a driving licence, although due to epilepsy i had my mine revoked 3 years ago. The job centre are aware of my condition (with a written letter from the neurology dept to confirm this) yet still insist in suggesting unsuitable driving job roles. I was even told to apply for a bus driving role even though the licencing medical regulations are stricter for this type of vehicle! I actually applied and went to interview knowing that i'd be unsuccessful on health grounds, the interviewer actually said that the job centre regularly send unsuitable candidates. They say that im not trying hard enough despite taking with me rejection letters from places that im applying to. I apply on average 4 - 5 jobs per week.
The job centre staff fail to appreciate that times are grim out there, a lot of private and public sector jobs are being cut. Everytime i have visited the centre i have been greeted by the same "don't wanna work, wont work" chavs sitting on the wall outside drinking their cans of special brew. I suppose that they are seen by DWP as "actively seeking employment" and immune from ever forfeiting their benefit payments. I've only recently registered my claim for JSA due to receiving a redundancy payment which i've managed to live on for 8 months. I've asked for advice on re-training, all i have heard so far is "you will be entitled to help with training courses when you go onto new deal". I dont want to put off til tomorrow what i can do today. Every week that im out of work is a week that the state is paying me. I want to support myself and have the pride of knowing that i've earned the money in my pocket as well as returning to a decent standard of living rather than just the basic existence that JSA provides.
At the moment im considering returning to uni in September in the hope that things may have improved for the better over the next few years. In the mean time i wish everyone reading this the very best of luck in their search for employment.
Job Centre Plus is a government agency which aims to aid people in their search for work, monitor their progress and help people to claim benefits, such as Job Seekers Allowance.
I first signed on to JSA last February, I completed my claim over the phone on the 9th February and was told that someone would contact me to set up a face to face interview to finish off my claim and allow me to receive my benefits. After two weeks of hearing nothing, I called the Job Centre three times, and was told that I had not put in a claim and had to start from scratch.
So I started from scratch and put my claim in at the end of February and was told that I would have to go and sign on every 2 weeks with proof that I have been searching for work.
Despite the fact that I had been signing on for 2 months, I still had not received any payment. I had visited the centre four times and not once been given any assistance on searching for work.
At the end of April, I was offered work through a nursing agency. I informed the person that I signed on with every week and told them that I was not guarenteed hours but atleast I might get a little more than I am on JSA.
In the middle of May, I left the agency and signed back on, I was informed that I could put in for a 'rapid reclaim' which would guarantee me money within 30 days. When signing back on, the person I was sigining on with did not understand why I had signed off when working for an agency, as I could have carried on claiming as long as I did not work more than 16 hours.
After 8 weeks of waiting for my rapid reclaim money to go into my bank, I was offered a full time permanent position at my current job. When I chased up payment with the job centre, I was told that my claim had just been processed and I would be getting paid soon. Also, I asked if I could use their printer facilities and was told to go and sign on with working links, who would let me use their printer.
===My Thoughts on this 'Service'===
To me, the Job Centre is a complete joke.
After weeks of chasing them for money and asking for help in searching for work, I felt that I had achieved nothing. For 8 weeks, I was living on nothing and dependant on my boyfriend to give me money for interviews, stamps and envelopes.
When I was told I did not have to sign off when working for the agency, I was furious that I hadn't been told this before as I was only receiving six hours a week from the agency, so was still living on pretty much nothing.
Furthermore, they should not claim that a 'rapid reclaim' will be processed within 30 days if it is going to take them 8 weeks, once again, I was living on nothing!
However, when I explained to the person that I was signing with that I had no money to buy interview clothes, I was told to choose some clothes from Topshop and they would provide me with a voucher to pay for it. So the job centre brought me a skirt, heels and vest top, which totalled at £98!
Also, when I started working for the nursing agency, the Job Centre paid for my CRB check so that I could start work. However, when I was offered another nursing job, they refused to pay for a CRB until I had been given my working hours.
I found Working Links to be so much more helpful that the Job Centre and will be reviewing this company shortly.
Overall, I feel sorry for anyone who is in the position where they have to sign on and hope that I am never in this position again. The staff do not seem to empathise with any of the people in the centre and see their job as just that..a job, not a place to help people who seriously need it.
If you are signing on and feel that you are not getting all of the help that you need, look for your local Working Links branch and sign up with them.
As I am approaching the end of my Job Seeker's Allowance Claim, I think it is time to share my opinions of my experience with the Job Centre Plus.
I graduated this year and as I was moving back to the small town where I grew up, I knew it was going to be difficult to find any work, so seeing as I was entitled to, I decided to 'sign on'.
I visited my local Job Centre Plus office to enquire, I was given minimum information and told to call the 0845 number which they gave to me!
I called the benefits helpline that afternoon to discuss my options. After a lengthy time of pressing almost every number on the phone keypad, I finally got to speak to a human being...sort of. The staff on the other end of the phone went through the questions with me, which I was told to listen to in full before stating my answer, this was very tedious as practically every question came with an explanation too! At the end of the conversation it was arranged that I was to go to my initial meeting in another nearby town as my local JCP office was too small to process new claims. I had been given a 9am appointment and told if this was unsuitable, to call back on the same number. I immediately told the man that it would be better to have an afternoon or slightly later slot seeing as the nearest bus stop is a 10-15 minute walk from my house and the bus ride would take up to half an hour. He repeated that I would have to call back, so I did, as soon as I had hung up! This annoyed me especially since they knew I had to travel to a different town for my initial meeting. During the telephone interview I had said that I was due to go abroad to visit my parents in the next few weeks.
The day came to go to the initial meeting, so I went and had to wait 10 minutes when I arrived as the staff were all busy. After 20 minutes of paperwork I told them I would have to rearrange the sign on time that they had given me since I was going to be away on that day. To the lady's horror she was somewhat unimpressed that I had wasted her time as you cannot sign on if you are going to leave the country! I got told to call my local JCP on my way to the airport to say that I would not be attending and ask them to sign me off. On the Monday Morning I did just that and the man on the phone at the JCP office told me I should have gone in and filled in a form, I explained that I wasn't told that and that I was on my way to the airport!
When I arrived back in the UK I had to call the 0845 number again for a rapid reclaim (not so rapid to be honest) and had to travel to the bigger JCP to go through all the paper work again!
After that, my next few signing sessions went smoothly, the staff were friendly and knew that there would never be anything suitable for me on their system, so simply checked my job search diary to see what I had been doing myself. During my time claiming JSA my Aunty offered me a days work with her for some extra cash, so of course I said yes, seeing as you are allowed to work up to 16 hours whilst signed on (I have also been told by JCP staff that it is 16.5, 19, and 24 hours!?) I earnt a mega £105 for a days work with my aunty!
At my next sign on I filled in a form with details of the work that I had done and the lady at the JCP said it was all fine and filed it away. I had a letter to say I needed to fill in another form which I took with me to another sign on meeting to get someone to check I had done it properly, the man said it was fine and he sent it away for me. So it came as a shock when I didn't get paid for 2 weeks and was told that if you do any work whilst signed on, they will knock the money off your next payment! I was very angry that nobody had ever told me this, I was always told, yes you can work 16 hours. So I sat counting envelopes for the same money I could have got for 2 weeks job seeking!! The worst part is that the JCP only finished the paperwork 3 weeks after I had been given and spent the cheque from my aunty so I was caught short for 2 weeks, almost 4 weeks after working! I questioned whether this was correct when I signed on this week and my advisor told me that she didn't think you have money taken off you, yet other staff have now told me that my claim has been dealt with correctly, I think they need to advise their advisors!
After 6 weeks I had to complete a back to work session which was at 9.15, we were told to arrive at 9am. As I walked up to the JCP a lady was going in and said "you'll have to wait till 9" I said that I thought it was 9 but thats fine. Another Lady had just turned up for the session and she said "oh we have to wait 2 seconds?" and the JCP staff lady very rudely and with attitude replied that yes its health and safety and we would have to deal with it!! I thought this was very rude and over the top since neither me nor the other lady had been rude we just agreed that we both thought it was 9am!
I have just been offered a job related to my degree, which I am so pleased about since it means I will never have to step into the JCP with its unhelpful and rude staff ever again! (hopefully)
In summary I did everything the way I was supposed to whilst claiming job seekers allowance, and it got me nowhere, so be warned!
- I told them I was going abroad when technically I could have signed on on my way to the airport and been dishonest. Resulting in my having to travel to another town's JCP to get re signed. Plus, the reason I was going abroad was to visit my parents, the reason they said I could not claim is because you cannot be actively seeking work whilst out of the UK, despite the fact that all I was required to do whilst claiming was 4 internet searches per week and I was taking my laptop with me to my Mum's.
In fact the job which I have just been offered, I applied for whilst I was abroad and not able to claim JSA!!
I understand that there has to be rules in place to stop people cheating the system, but it might be useful if they were to take personal situations into account.
- I was honest about working which resulted in them taking all the money off me, without warning, 3 weeks after I had spent it!
Late last year I returned from working abroad to discover first-hand just how difficult the recession was making it to find a job here in the UK. I am well-used to spending a few months away, having an adventure, then picking up a temp job, saving some more money, and repeating. All of a sudden, my plan wasn't working out, and I was forced to go onto Jobseekers' Allowance (hereafter JSA).
I appreciate that there is a lot more to Jobcentre Plus, that each varies immensely (this I know to be true after hearing friends' horror stories) and that despite having used the service for a few months, I am by no means an expert in everything they do. For this reason, I will only be referring to my own experiences using it in connection with my job search and JSA.
Having applied online for JSA, I was quickly called back and an interview was arranged for me to go into my nearest Jobcentre Plus to set up a new claim.
When I arrived I checked in at the desk, who were relatively friendly, and sent to fill in some paperwork while I waited for my advisor. And waited, and waited, and waited...when I was finally seen, I quickly realised I was speaking with a complete moron. Now, I thought perhaps these people were supposed to aid ME in some way, but instead I found myself struggling to make the advisor comprehend my answers to simple questions. Because I have been a student with the Open University over the last few years, I needed to disclose information about my studies. My advisor didn't even seem to know that the OU is a distance uni, and kept demanding an address and how many times a week I had to go into classes.
After finally drilling in to my advisor what exactly OU is all about, I was all set and received my money quickly enough into my bank account. Having been told when I created my "Jobseeker's Agreement" the kind of commitment to finding work I must show, I dutifully brought proof of my job search along to show when I next signed. Not once, even in my six-week interviews, was I asked for any evidence of actively looking for a job! In fact, sometimes they didn't even ASK me how it was going. No surprise then that so many people manage to stay out of work, by choice, for so long.
Each time I went to sign I had a different advisor, some who were friendly and intelligent, some not. The friendly ones could see I was genuinely trying, by listening to how I had attempted to find work, and gave me information of websites to try. Some merely grunted at me, with the occasional offer of looking up jobs on the system, most of the ones they found being unsuitable. Once I was, despite being a seasoned in the job role I was looking for, urged to go on an unpaid work experience, during which time I would receive my pitiful JSA payment but also be expected to pay travel costs to and from work all week and, of course, have less time to look for a real job. No thanks!
During my time on JSA my overwhelming impression was just how easy it is to cheat the system and become bone idle. I'd be interested to hear other people's experiences, as I have a friend who went to a different Jobcentre in my city and was practically forced into every job going, no matter how unsuitable!
To try and end on a slightly positive note, I've found that my Jobcentre usually, despite that awful first time, runs on time so I don't have to spend too long there. What's more, the machines available to do job searches can often bring up more roles than are available on job websites, etc.
An okay service in order to get JSA at a time of need, but I'll be happy if I don't need to set foot in mine again!
The Job Centre PLus where i live is an absolute Joke. I stopped claiming income support and my partner and I made a joint claim about 5 weeks ago. He was already in reciept of JSA. We have a small boy of 7 months, whom we get CTC & Child Benefit for. My partner is looking for a job and we were not living together when i was claiming for myself.
Anyway I joined his claim. 4 weeks later we phoned up to see what is going on. Not only have they not put me on his claim but they haven't paid him. So for the passed 2 and a half weeks we have been living on our Child Tax Credit and Child Benefit which isn't even enough to cover 1 weeks rent.
The Job Centre can't even tell me if i'm on his claim yet. It's ridiculous. Say we were going through a messy breakup and he took me off his claim, i would never ever know about it and would end up living on my child's money because they can't tell me nothing as i am not and never will be the main claiment.
There was also someone in the Job Centre who was trying to claim seperately because her boyfriend had gone to prison. They aren't allowed to close claims ever, even if you don't attend. She had nothing to live on because she was not the main claiment she could not close their claim down.
It makes me sick. I want to get a job in the near future and if this is how people are treated it's no wonder so many people are falsly claiming benefits.
Right now i have a council tax bill of £85 which if i don't pay within 7 days will have to pay a years worth which is £580+. We owe the housing association we rent from about £400 or £500. Which when our benefits finally are sorted will cost us probably about 700 or 800 possibly even 1000. And will probably be served with an eviction notice.
I have read all of these reviews and I can say that I am probably more qualified to speak than most.
I have BOTH claimed Unemployment Benefit and I have WORKED for the Jobcentre Plus as well. In one of the most toughest, dirtiest and appaulingly run JCP centres in London.
I was searching for a job in 2009 and was desperately seeking anything..........when the Government decided to increase its staffing in JCP to accommodate the 'presumed' increase of unemployed people following the recession. Having previously worked for another Government department, I applied - 3 months of interviews, background checks etc, I was offered a position.
7 months later I resigned..........if you can think for yourself, you will not fit in.
I can categorically say that JCP is the WORST employer in the UK.
I come from a hospitality background and wanted to help those who were in a similar situation, that I had previously found myself in.....but the Management did not like the fact that I was actually 'taking time' to help people find work.
The problem was, I was showing the 'system' how to actually do what was required and as the 'system' is devised by people who have ABSOLUTELY NEVER worked in the front line of JCP. They change the paperwork, structures and design automated software and never tell you until its too late. One course I was supposed to go on at the start of my employment, never materialised until 6 months later.
All interviews are timed due to the volume of people claiming at any one time. The software asks the advisors to record your conversations with the claimants and in the case of the genuine claimants, is very intrusive. Each interview is timed - and when you go to sign on the dotted line - each signing is also timed - the office I worked at had 'signing times' down to 2 minutes per person. (Yes really!) it was exactly like working in a factory..................
One day I was interviewing someone who had just come out of prison, the next I was interviewing a Solicitor and every other profession in between. Some people should NEVER have been claiming benefits as they were Senior Executive types! So those that needed my help got that extra bit of care and support. And there were also students with degrees who were in the same boat and they also got the same help that my 'life skills' could offer them. Similarly there were those who did not deserve the help.
One customer was the last in my diary for the day and when I spent 1.5 hours with him, he wrote a letter of commendation to the Management of the JCP branch; who promptly ignored it and never showed it to me. It was another member of staff from the post room who told me about it. And when I confronted Management, they had 'filed it' and refused to show it to me.
The problem is, 'the system' is automated and is only there to really give you the absolute minimum support needed 'to live'........not to pay your bills. You have to find your own jobs.....no matter what you are told by glossy leaflets. And if you want to get assistance in finding work......when it is given, it is the Managers of the 'system', who will penalise a member of staff, for trying to go 'above and beyond the call of duty, to people who clearly needed extra support. So when we try to give the support that is needed we are told off, which causes frustration for the staff members.
Similarly, I witnessed staff who SHOULD NEVER HAVE BEEN EMPLOYED in positions of 'offering advice', who have never understood the frustrations that come with being unemployed and skint. So will offer utterly ridiculous advice, which is conflicting to you personally and is NOT really effective or accurate. It has got so complicated that staff just do not know how to help some people.
You have to have an awful lot of common sense to actually be effective to help the claimants get back on their feet. Some members of management do not understand what it is like and will chastise a member of staff, for trying to do what is really needed in some cases. As the government always wants 'to be seen' to improve its STATISTICS of unemployed people.
The problem is..........I raised questions to Executive Management about the existing Manager and the 'system', which was frowned upon and after resigning ....... a whole other set of problems ensued as they tried to fire me! AFTER I had resigned. But that is a story for another day.
My advise is - keep a diary of all your job applications: average about 5 jobs per day EVERY DAY: go for two part time jobs instead of just one if you are struggling: take what is offered in the first instance and KEEP looking for the job you really want...........it is always worth while taking any job for experience, as a starting point to get to where you want to be. Take what ever Benefit is offered to you and when you are working. SAVE SAVE SAVE SAVE and if you find yourself unemployed again. Use your savings as a fall back, instead of signing on if it means less stress.
If you find a staff member that really truly spends time with you.......make the most of it, as there are some lovely people working for JCP who deserve to be treated better. And I am not talking about me....as many other people who started the same time as me, are now back out there looking for another job. Me included as 4 months down the line - I am still unemployed.