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Issue 1: New Deal
The Jobcentre is trying to force me to attend a course which is unhelfpul to me right now and for reasons which are illogical and also harmful to my wellbeing, mental health and finances.
11 March 2008: finished last job as Web Editor for a council (almost 3 months).
27 March: sign on and get put back onto New Deal. If I had waited 3 more weeks before signing on I would not have been put on New Deal but no-one told me that.
May: Sign up with teaching agencies - 2 days work.
2 June (?) Ordered to attend 3 month New Deal course.
- The purpose of the course is to teach me how to write CVs, do job searches, perhaps get a work placement for "experience".
- Deemed by me to be totally inappropriate since I obviously do not need work experience since I have just finished a professional job and my CVs are accepted and forwarded by professional agencies. The course is of no use to me at all.
- Told that I did not have a choice. The punishment for a refusal is to remove all social support ie cut JS Allowance. Basically do as you are told or starve or get into debt.
- Asked for a reassessment by an anonymous "independent" person.
My statement explaining why I refused an order to attend a course
(Not all of the statements were included. This is a revised version for my appeal).
Statement explaining why I refuse to do the IAP
- I am actively seeking employment in an appropriate and productive way and therefore fulfilling my obligations to the letter and more. I had an interview for a job in Sunderland and on 25 June I have another interview.
- I receive phonecalls and emails about applications that I need to reply to straight away. For example, I have just had to respond to a Test request for a job and to research the background for an NHS job I have been put forward for. That is a more appropriate use of my time.
- If I had been doing the course I would have missed the agency phonecall and would not be having a job interview. I also have 6 job applications to make this week and 2 proposals for independent work to draw up. I really have not got time to attend a course as I am too busy trying to get a job.
- It is not appropriate or helpful for my circumstances. In fact it is an obstacle to getting work.
- My CV is being accepted by potential employers, and agencies are putting me forward for work. I therefore do not need any more training or job search help. In fact the course would be a hindrance not a help since I already have my own automated job search system on my own computer and I need access to it.
- I have recently completed 3 months professional work and completed the job with good references so proving that my skills are up to standard, current and relevant. Nothing on the New Deal course is going to help me.
- If the job had continued for 3 weeks more I would not be on New Deal. I am therefore inadvertently trapped by a bureaucratic and unhelpfully inflexible rule that tries to fit all persons into the same category. If I had known I would have borrowed money and survived for the extra 3 weeks and so avoided the rule. So for the sake of 3 weeks I am being treated as if I had not done any work at all.
- The New Deal arrangements are obviously targeted at people who have not had any solid work and are not likely to get any without help. I don’t need that help. I could walk into a professional job tomorrow without problems.
- In fact I have started working part time while signing on and doing a professional job as a supply teacher which again shows how useless and unhelpful and inappropriate New Deal is for me right now. And as such I won’t even be receiving the pittance that we do receive.
- The real reason why it is harder for me to find work is age - a lot of reports point to age discrimination as a problem. If that were not so the government would not have recently introduced a law that makes the practice illegal.
- It is an arbitrary, irrational abuse of administrative power. It is inhuman to create a rule, not a law, which cannot be altered, that must be obeyed. It is treating people as little more than serfs backed up by threats and punishments. Every rule must also take into account individual needs and circumstances.
- The Human Rights Act states that no-one should be made to do anything that degrades or humiliates or detracts from common human dignity. Forcing me to attend a programme that is inappropriate and unhelpful probably breaks that law. I did not sign into the Army. Article 7 of the European Convention on Human Rights states: No person may be punished for an act that was not a criminal offence at the time of its commission. and there is also something there about "servitude". These are not frivolous comments; serious issues are at stake here: namely accountability of the state's agents and freedom from oppression and servitude.
- In conclusion, it is more helpful right now to meet with my current adviser to report on progress and to find work rather than to attend a course which is clearly innapropriate.
I have also paid enough tax in my last job to see me through another 3 months without signing on at all and it is my right in my own country to receive help while searching for work. It’s not charity. It’s my money as well.
23 June: Told by adviser that my reasons for refusal to attend were not accepted and my benefit will be cut. No reasons have been give and to date (25 June) I have not received any written explanation. Not one of the points I made have been answered. Asked for appeal forms.
In the meantime I have had one interview in Sunderland and have another one on Thursday 26. If I had been doing the course I would have missed the agency phonecall and would not be having a job interview. I also have 6 job applications to make this week and 2 proposals for independent work to draw up. I really have not got time to attend a course as I am too busy trying to get a job.
Issue 2: Cut in benefit for working 2 days
17 June: Enquired why I have not received any JSA since 22 May when the last payment was made. Was told my payments have stopped because I have worked 2 days and was told that the Benefits Distribution Agency was waiting for payslips.
I pointed out that by this reasoning, if I worked 1 day and was not paid for that one day until the end of the month (plus payslip) I would have to live on nothing for one month. No response.
18 June: brought payslips to the office for photocopying
24 June: Received standard letter stating that my Allowance has been stopped because I have too much money coming in.
Phoned and a Neil said someone would get back to me. Missed the phone call. (People who do not have money are forced to phone an0845 number).
26 June: Phone and no-one answered. Eventually got through, someone picked up the phone, I could hear papers and computers but no-one actually spoke to me!