Scrapheap Scrounger With No Right to Privacy

Did you know that when you are jobless you lose all right to privacy? No? Let me explain.

At the beginning of October last year I was made redundant. I decided I didn’t want to become a statistic immediately so didn’t sign on.  Come November I decided to visit the local job centre. Now this was the first time in over 10 years I had visited a job centre, so it took a bit of courage for this 60 year old woman to enter it. The first thing I notice is 2 big burly G4S security men, now that’s new, I thought to myself. What I didn’t see was any sign of a reception desk so I wander around aimlessly for 10 minutes thinking, What do I do? Where do I go?

Eventually I notice a queue forming at what is little more than a shelf attached to a column and realise this is the reception desk. Eventually a young lady comes out and deals with the queue. When it’s my turn I ask how I register for unemployment, she tells me I have to do so by phone or online  and proceeds to give me a piece of paper which, as I eventually found out, had the wrong url on it.

I decide that I’m not ready for this yet so leave it a while. Come the end of January and finances are such that I really need to do something, so I search out the online application and fill it in. Having given them everything from my NA number to my bank account details I sit back and wait for my identity to be stolen. Eventually I receive a text informing me of an appointment today.

I arrive a few minutes early, the shelf is again unmanned. When they do deign to send someone out to the shelf I’m told to sit on the first sofa and wait. Whilst I am doing so I hear every detail of job searches of the two claimants either side of the desk just a couple of feet in front of me.  I wait and eventually a young lady comes and sits on the sofa with my online claim details printed out which I am to read and sign.  I do this and eventually, 15 minutes after my stated appointment time, I’m called to her desk.

Whilst she is photocopying my life I hear all the sorry details of the Polish couple sitting at the desk next door, including the fact that their bank accounts are empty and they only have £150 in cash as their savings, most of which they seem to be handing over in cash to some guy whose house they are living in. I’m sure they wanted me to know that – not!

Without discussion, other than what sort of job I’m looking for, I’m given a Job Seekers Agreement to sign and told that if I don’t my claim won’t continue, so what choice do I have but to sign it? I’m also given an activity sheet to record what steps I’m taking to find a job, including every website I search. Finally I’m given a green signing in book and told to report next Monday to sign on and next Wednesday to meet with an adviser.  I’m sure whoever is at the desk next to  my adviser,  or sitting behind me, is going to enjoy listening to my personal search for work.

Meanwhile the signing in book, the first two pages are full of reasons as to why they may stop Job Seekers allowance. In fact I found it all vaguely threatening.

Oh and all this is before they decide if I’m entitled to Job Seekers allowance! I’ve to wait for that decision. Meanwhile I’m off to close my curtains.

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13 responses

  1. Disgraceful … am sure all this lack of privacy bully boy tactics are to put people off. What kind of country do we live in where it seems to the norm to shame anyone who isn’t pulling in over 100k a year and stashing proceeds off shore and evading tax? I really feel for you, what a terrible experience. Fingers crossed your details remain private … part from obviously those they make you share in the open plan holding bay!

  2. Truly disgusting, my mum , a single parent ,who is now almost 60 years old , has worked since she was 16 until she got sick at the age of 56 was paid off from her job due to ill health ,is now being forced to attend Job Centre meetings with an adviser.
    She is made to discuss her health problems , everyone can listen to her conversation, she is told that she should be considering unpaid voluntary work to get her back in employment, even though her Doctor says she is not fit for work.
    She attended an appeal hearing after being assessed fit for work by ATOS, which she won , declaring her unfit and recommending no further assessment for at least 12 months. Two weeks later Job Centre plus decided that she was to attend the work program. Completely baffling.
    Her money was cut while she waited 9 MONTHS for her appeal hearing , and is still waiting for her back dated money after winning the appeal .
    My mum has various health complaints but had NEVER suffered from depression, she has now been prescribed medication to treat depression . Also been passed from Job Centre plus to the Ingeus work program. It is getting beyond a joke .

    1. What they are putting your mother through is inhumane imo I’m also wondering if these open plan desks are breaking the Data Protection Act
      If she is unfit why on earth have the job centre put her on a work program? I think maybe a visit to CAB is needed here.

      1. CAB have been brilliant, sent someone with us to her appeal hearing. Can’t thank them enough for the help they have provided, but they are as confused as we are about the work program and as they threaten her money with sanctions if she doesn’t attend then she is left with no option but to go.
        Really is a form of bullying .
        In response to those open plan desks , i was in the local Job Centre with my mum , the young guy who lives next door to me happened to be there.I left knowing that his money had been stopped due to his failure to fill out his work search adequately. This seriously can’t be right .

    2. How absolutely disgraceful. Your poor mother. Surely what they’re doing is illegal? She should be on some sort of disability living payment rather than job seekers surely? I hate how the system clearly doesn’t work and clouds issues and penalises people like your mother. I hope that it is sorted very soon for her sake. She must feel so stressed by it all.

      1. They removed her from DLA and put her onto something called Employment and Support Allowance telling that everyone on DLA will be getting moved to this . It’s awful not to mention humiliating for her. Thanks for your good wishes , means a lot when people understand what she is going through.

  3. We’ve Iain Duncan Smith to thank for this – the man has not got a trace of humanity.

  4. The young neighbour i previously mentioned , young dad of 2 has worked in construction since leaving school, was paid off due to lack of construction work available, after having his money stopped was sent to the local asda to take part in “team building” skills was handed a bag of marshmallows ,packet of spaghetti and told to build something as though he was at Primary School . Talk about degrading and humiliating people .

    1. They really seem to enjoy humiliating people who are unemployed through no fault of their own. Meanwhile the likes of Asda are probably getting paid to take these folk on, they are laughing up their sleeves.

  5. An interesting article, I know what you mean about the jobcentre! Yet another public body that doesn’t know its ass from its elbow…

    In my blog I detail my experience of unemployment
    http://literarylydi.wordpress.com

  6. p.s I like the bankground!

    1. Thank you – it’s one of my photos (something to do whilst jobless) I’ve bookmarked your blog for a leisurely read later

      1. just realised I mis-typed that! :D

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