Thursday, 24 March 2011

Tits Up.

Well, the socialising yesterday continued well into the evening, until everyone got nesh.

(Nesh. A Yorkshire-ism. Someone afraid of getting too cold. Often accompanied by the word 'pillock', originally meaning a small hill or mound. In this context, meaning a bit of a 'twit'. Which means...oh, forget it..... )

So I spent 6 am this morning cleaning up empty plates, cups, knives, forks and empty beer cans from the back garden. Moi? I did what I do best last night. Rather comfy settee There. 42 inch tv. There, lights out, windows shut, and old re-runs of Time Team. Oh, yeh, baby.


Something very odd happening with the unemployed around here. In the last two days I've had five people in a panic because they've gone to their banks and found their Jobseekers Allowance hasn't been paid in. When they've queried it with the Jobcentre, they've been told that they've been 'sanctioned', and they have to appeal.

That means, money stopped.

The more savvy of them had pointed out that to appeal they should have had a 'sanction letter' to tell them their benefits were about to be stopped, and it was mandatory to include the letter with the appeal.

The Jobcentre agreed they hadn't been sent one. In every case, they've been told, on the phone, that the reason their benefit hasn't been paid is because they've failed to attend statuary 'training course' interviews. These courses are mandatory for the unemployed who have been unable to find work, any work, after a few weeks. Fair enough, even if it's 'how to use a computer mouse'. Apparently.

In all cases they were told they failed to respond to a letter that they hadn't received. But meanwhile, they had signed on, attended 'Back To Work Interviews' and handed in proof they'd looked for work, including rejection letters.

Guess what? Within a couple of days of complaining, they received the letters, in the same post, and from companies employed to provide these courses. To add insult to injury, when they've contacted these companies, they said they'd never heard of them, or, in one case "mixed up with someone else".

These aren't long term unemployed. The people who've spoken to me are those who have lost their jobs due to redundancy, one had been sacked and done their 'thirteen week time' and all have young families. Worse, they've all been given pathetic 'crisis loans' of £50 which are repayable at £18 per week. It's a lot when you have zero income. How does 50 quid divide by 18?

On balance, if one or two had grumbled, I would have thought, "well, maybe". But five? Nah.

So I'm going to have 'gen up' on the system, and go through the chuffin' checks as I have a long unused label I'm going to have to call into service to represent them in their appeals. (For those in the know, I'm "in the book").

Why me? Because they have no-one else. The local advice centre has had it's funding removed due to spending cuts, and is awaiting IT'S appeals and depending on a little private support. With hundreds of potential clients, those volunteers are reduced to 2 hours, twice a week :(

As much as I'm confident of success. I am not a happy chappy.


Update 25/03/11

All cases have had their benefits restored, if they continue to 'sign-on' as usual, though the cases continue on appeal. However, they will not regain any benefits lost in the previous two weeks unless their appeals are successful. They are still liable to repay any 'crisis loan' they may have had, at £18 per week. They have also been advised to claim a further crisis loan until they get an income, and advised that they would get the further crisis loans.

They've all refused a further crisis loan, because £36 per week repayments out of their income is too great. So their depending on food parcels.

If that sounds double-dutch, I'd agree. It seems that they have had their benefits restored because of the weight of evidence. Two pages or more plus photocopies. However, the appeal can't be classed as closed because that evidence is being independently assessed at an office in Doncaster .

The Doncaster office can't be contacted by the public. Which is all very well, but for those two weeks their rent to their landlords and their council tax isn't going to be paid.

Still. A presumed success. And all it took was a PC, scanner and a few phone calls.

Credit to the Jobcentre's for their concern, politeness, and very rapid response to our concerns. Nice.


Julian said...

Whats in the book mean? If there is some book, why do you need to gen up?

Wheelie said...

In reverse order.

I've never signed on. My information is that I gather and experience.

If you don't know what 'in the book' means, don't concern yourself with it. It isn't a responsibility you'd want that you should worry about.

However, if you want to help, and I'm sure you do, feel free to chat to local advisor's, talk to Advice Centre volunteers, Citizens Advice, MP's, Councillors, Tenants and Residents associations, Community Centres, Social Services, Sexual health advisor's, GP's and Policemen.

Good luck.

Julian said...

Wow no offence Wheels. SInce you post public its odd that are such an enigma and go out of your way to avoid saying much about yourself. Am I wrong to be curious?

Wheelie said...

No offence taken Julian.

Understood. :)