’67 jobs’ blog – My story

’67 jobs’ home

by Peter Styles (pstymail@yahoo.com)

MeFirstly, thanks again for all the kind messages of support, received both on the site and to me personally. It has been a tonic at a stressful time. Some heartfelt and very interesting stories have been left on the site, and I wish a happy and successful resolution to one and all.

So how did it come to be that I was sanctioned after applying for 67 jobs in a fortnight? Here’s the story as succinctly as I can put it.

Over the last year since losing my job I’ve been applying for up to 15 jobs a day, securing at least an interview a month and doing whatever I could to free myself from an increasingly precarious financial position – especially as the lion’s share of the Jobseekers’ Allowance is spent on subsidising a significant underpayment in Housing Benefit each month. With prudence, and occasional incredibly welcome help from friends and family, life and the search for work continued.

I have a good degree and an arguably impressive work record stretching back twenty years, but that elusive appointment seemed just out of my grasp. This was especially exasperating when most recruitment consultants seemed unable to really examine the calibre and experience of the candidate – the recruitment sector seems to have been reduced to a sausage factory, a cynical numbers game. Unfortunately, in turn, the method of applying for positions has become similarly mechanistic.

Just over two weeks ago I was told at a fortnightly signing that I would be forced to attend and sign every day. I objected to this, and said it would be completely counterproductive and demoralising, but the law is the law, and the DWP staff seemed only too willing to carry out Iain Duncan-Smith’s ill-thought out, vindictive and distinctly unhelpful measures.

I made my opposition to daily signing obvious to staff, and though I may have been brusque and irritated by this massive invasion into my personal freedom and movement, did not swear at the workers.

Their response to my passive opposition? To be ordered to sign alone in the screened area every day, being made to feel like some kind of offender – yet another tactic used to make me comply.

Despite this, I tried to keep spirits up and job applications going, and thought about the possibility of setting up my own business. A daily routine of emails, application forms and phone calls to consultants – though the routine was erratic because the time I was required to genuflect in front of the Job Centre staff differed every day, from 10.30 in the morning to 3.40pm.

I was compelled to apply for jobs entirely unsuitable to my experience, qualifications and talents – jobs which didn’t even require a cv to apply for. I did so, reluctantly, in order to avoid a sanction and keep the uneasy peace.

However, this was not enough – on the second Friday of daily signing the Executive Officer declared my job search was ‘insufficiently broad’ despite also having described it ‘good’ on more than one occasion that morning.

I asked to see a manager – and the fait accompli was squarely delivered when the other person with whom I’d experienced daily difficulties appeared – a state-sponsored kangaroo court.

Incensed, I told them both in no uncertain terms what I thought of their decision and immediately reached for my mobile to launch an official complaint while I still could – my phone bill was due to be paid on Monday and there were insufficient funds to cover it. Thankfully a friend lent me enough to avoid this potentially disastrous blow to my job searching abilities.

When I returned home, what did I discover in my email inbox than an invite to a job interview. Though welcome, the irony was not lost on me.

Feeling incredibly stressed, I booked a doctor’s appointment, and he signed me off for a month – a welcome respite from daily onslaughts from Duncan-Smith’s attack dogs.

Consequently, this has meant I have had to close my claim for JSA, and currently am in receipt of no state support whatsoever. Were it not for the discount supermarkets and the generosity of friends I shudder to think how even more precarious my position could be.

Currently I’m in a weird limbo position – job seeking though not a Jobseeker. Hopefully I can find paid employment within the next month or else I’ll be thrown back to square one – but with a vengeful government to answer to.

So – if anyone needs someone with experience as a journalist, journalism and public affairs lecturer, content manager, PR or copywriter or related disciplines please step forward – I’d be delighted to hear from you and end this insane chapter of my life.

Best,

Peter

Email: pstymail@yahoo.com
Mobile: 07946 825926

Advertisements

66 thoughts on “’67 jobs’ blog – My story

  1. neilavaughan

    And yet I’m on the Work Program and they’ve told me that they won’t help with any travel costs for any interviews outside my home city or any Interviews I get that aren’t through them,yet when I told JCP about my issues they told me I MUST look 90 mins travel away for work, I am now forced to use money for rent to attend interviews or risk a sanction.
    I have contacted my MP and the Shadow Employment Minister, the reply from the WP Provider started with “The client is a well know tweeter and Blogger in the welfare advice sector???” they also stated that help with travel costs is at the discretion of the provider, that is actually correct, it is a trap to sanction people who can’t find work through lack of help from privately contracted providers just interested in profit, the JCP say I must look 90 miles or risk sanction,so can’t pay rent=risk eviction so I use rent and am in arrears to find work wherever I can to avoid a sanction= risk eviction

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
  2. Landless Peasant

    I just apply for pretty much anything just to keep them happy, knowing full-well I’m never going to even get an interview as I am unemployable. Regarding the daily signing, I heard through the grapevine that they do that to people they suspect of working on the side. If they did it to me it wouldn’t be too much trouble as my Jobcentre is only a 20 min. walk away, but I would ensure that my boots were nicely coated in dog/cat poo each day before walking in and wiping my feet on their carpet.

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
  3. McDermott Hilary

    I wish you good luck in the future. You do not deserve the treatment you were given. I became ill whilst working as a carer in a care home and had to sign on. At the first ‘appointment’ I had an arrogant adviser say “did I consider myself as just lazy?”. I had been working over 60 hours a week in a physically demanding role. I didn’t reply to him.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
      1. neilavaughan

        If you are sanctioned by JCP you are still classed as “in receipt of benefit” any HB provider will suspend HB payment as they receive something called an ETD (Electronic Transfer of Data) from DWP, it is purely standard procedure by the HB provider, as wildthing666 stated once you inform them and get written confirmation of the sanction the HB will be reinstated from the date of suspension

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Clau

    I’m sorry you had to ho through this. No one should have to face these people, ever, were it not for a government that gave them legal support.
    My story is almost the same as yours, with only one change: I suffer from anxiety and depression. Under medication, and with regular scheduled days, there is no way to tell me apart from anyone on the street, but thanks to a bully called Shamima (in Leicester’s New Walk JCP) who made sure she took out her petty life unsatisfactions on me, the panic attacks came back with a vengeance. After the doctor’s appointment, I didn’t have to close my JSA claim, as she did it without letting me know. I had to find out when it was too late. The “funny” thing is, I was trying to go into self employment, and now am in no state to work at all. So, yes, I know exactly what you’re going through. I also was left destitute after the claim was closed (my housing benefit was suspended, as it seems she lied to them too) and am in that limbo you describe. From the bottom of my heart I wish you the best outcome ever, a job that is appropriate for you and that rewards your ample experience, peace and stability. Bullies will always be bullies: if they even have to work in that role, it’s hard to imagine they will do well in any other environment at all. You, me, loads of others out in the world though, we can undo that damage and help others. Take care and enjoy the little good things.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. wildthing666

      If anyone has their housing benefit stopped then call them and state that state benefits are only one way of been able to receive housing benefit and as the DWP/JC+ have told you they have sanctioned my benefits you require a copy of any correspondence from the DWP/ JC+ and as your income in now lower you demand to be reinstated on HB from the day they took you off without a break in payments. I did this when they stopped my HB they sent a form to sign I just put some squiggle down and sent it back, 2 weeks later I had a copy of the email from DWP.

      Like

      Reply
    2. Jonathan Parker

      Its a little embarassing for me to say this, but my early career as an Administrator was spent working in various depts of DWP – including a stint with JCP in a job centre. This was, I should point out, a few decades ago. In those days all Civil Servants, no matter what dept they worked for or what grade they worked at, were bound by an interesting document known as the Civil Service Code. This was effectively a standard Code of Conduct for all employees and focused on such issues as ethical guidelines (eg in treating customers), confidentiality and, generally, how to behave appropriately as servant of the Crown (which is what, in practice, a Civil Servant is). In comparison to this, DWP today is unrecognisable. When I worked for them if anyone had even suggested the idea of treating customers the way they are now, let alone putting such ideas into practice, they would have been instantly disciplined and probably dismissed. The incredibly poor standards of public service, let alone basic decency and, dare I say the word, compassion, which DWP staff are routinely displaying in the ‘service’ they supply to job seekers is scandalous. Tactics such as failing to inform other departments of sanction decisions leading to, for example, the withdrawal of other key welfare benefits like Housing Benefit, and the resulting increase in poverty of thousands of some of the most vulnerable members of society simply would not be tolerated.

      Liked by 2 people

      Reply
  5. just passing

    God, this is awful. I knew things had become atrocious for people who’d ended up unemployed, but this kind of vindictive, Kafka-esque nightmare would be unbearable. Honestly, I wouldn’t survive a week on the dole these days.

    I know you have more immediate concerns right now – eating, for example – but have you talked to anyone about the possibility of a judicial review at all? Maybe Public Interest Lawyers would be interested?

    Also, have you thought about putting a Paypal link here, for donations?

    I really hope things look up for you soon. And for the rest of us… but at the same time, I can’t help wondering – if someone with your qualifications, skills and evident eagerness to work can’t stay out of the sanctions black hole, what hope is there for anyone? 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  6. James

    IDS is a moron, JCP staff should hang their heads in shame, their brutality is gobsmacking, All the best for the future, a future hopefully without this Government come next election.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. Clive Arnold

      IDS isn’t a moron, he knows exactly what he is doing and what will happen to those his actions hit. He is callous, people need to target him personally rather than the DWP. While he is still in office people should make his life as miserable as humanly possible

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  7. greenorgohome

    This is typical of the current system of benefits, I did actually work for the JCP and have many tales to tell, I’m currently considering legal action due to my treatment over the past 3-4 years. Whilst working for the JCP I was told in the last 6 months or so of my employ that I was supposed to sanction at least 1 person per week (this flies in the face of the term ‘we don’t have targets for sanctions’ and moral ethics), being a human being I found that unless someone wasn’t doing as asked I’d issue them a warning, tell them what they were doing wrong and see them on their way. Not once in the last 6 months or so of my employment did I sanction anyone much to the chagrin of my manager (a horrible woman that I nicknamed Medusa or The Gorgon from Greek myths).

    This was my final struggle whilst in their employ however, I’d been having several health issues whilst working there, from hearing loss to blackouts and a couple of fractured ribs from a cycling accident. All of which were recorded, but due to my manager I was unable to seek help or take a break (book off a holiday) to rest and recuperate, since she decided to add in draconian rules regarding booking time off or using flexi-time (flexi-time was virtually non-existent due to staff cuts). The work I did whilst there was hard, I was seeing upwards of 60 ‘customers’ per day, giving each person roughly 5 minute interviews where I was supposed to do several things incluing, security checks, checking their work diary, doing a jobsearch on an archaic system and checking their signature before processing their benefit payment (all in 5 minutes). This I was just able to do and did so for about a year, before I started having problems with my health and the Gorgon.

    Eventually this all came to a head and was told that I would be facing disciplinary action for my attendance, since I’d not been given the support I think I deserved I spoke to my union rep (PCS) and began proceedings to appeal and fight against the disciplinary action. After pointing out several failings in the managements treatment I was able to leave with a small payment (about an additional months wage) as compensation for the treatment received. After leaving the JCP I started to look for work immediatley and began signing at my local JCP.

    Within a year of leaving I was diagnosed as having Ménière’s disease, this was after having several bouts of dizziness and nausea over the course of about 6 months. Having something like Ménière’s disease came as quite a shock and I lost a great deal of confidence in myself (I’m probably still not 100%), after a period of about 6 months on ESA I returned to the JCP and was told that I’d be attending the Work Programme via A4e. I spent about a year dealing with these idiots who apart from idly chatting and flirting with each other were possibly the most incompitent people I’ve had to deal with outside of the DWP. Anyway after the year was up (I had a total of 2 interviews due to their ‘help’ during this time) I was returned to the JCP, where after about another 4 months was told I’d been allocated to daily signing (this has yet to run out).

    Whilst attending a daily signing approximately 2 weeks ago I was confronted by a hideous woman that I now call Jabba (the hut), who told me my jobsearch wasn’t sufficient, I was moving house during the same week and was therefore quite busy packing my belongings and dealing with Electric/Gas/internet providers. When asked what I would do if I’d been working and was moving house, I replied ‘I’d book it off on Holiday’ (which I have done in the past, including whilst working at the JCP!), to which she asked me why I didn’t do that now? So I asked if I could book off the next few days on holiday and was told that I wasn’t allowed to since I’d actually have to go away i.e. on holiday! Also during the conversation she told me that I was supposed to treat my jobsearch as a ‘full-time job’ i.e. my jobsearch should take 35+ hours a week to do, bearing in mind at least an hour a day is taken up wasting time going to the JCP! After about another 30 mins of discussion (the normal 5 minute interview lasted about an hour) I told Jabba that I was considering legal action against the DWP, and I explained my previous problems and mentioned Ménière’s disease, at this point she asked if I’d seen a disability advisor to which I told her no. This rained on her parade to the point she was visibly stunned, she then rushed to book me a appointment and stopped harrassing me from then on during that interview.

    If by some random chance Jabba ever calls me out again for signing I will simply refuse her and ask to be signed by someone else, since I believe this is still within my rights. Now I’m more confident than I have been in a while, and thanks to Jabba and Medusa, I’m now angry enough to do something about it, so will be looking to take legal action against the DWP within the next year.

    On a final note, I too have been making enquiries about self employment due to an online project I’ve started recently, and the funny thing is they still expect me to sign-on on a daily basis and still provide a ‘full-time equivalent’ jobsearch!

    That’s pretty much my story so far, I wish you luck in your endeavours with dealing with the DWP and it’s inhumane underlings.

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
    1. leedsjon1

      greenorgohome: – this is also, like Peter Styles’ case, an interesting story. Just out of interest, what sort of legal action are you thinking of taking against DWP? (ie on what grounds are you complaining?) I have also had a very interesting experience with A4e who at one point prevented me from getting into the building where the training course was supposed to be delivered because I was 5 mins late in arriving! Surely, this has to be a first (perhaps I should contact the Guiness Book of Records?) I mean, I’ve heard stories of people being prevented from leaving a course early but to prevent someone from actually getting into the building to start a course they’ve already been booked on?!! (Which means of course that A4e had already been paid by DWP to deliver the course to me – another case of fraud for A4e perhaps?).

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. greenorgohome

        I’m unsure as to what/who to take legal action against, I might try to reach my old PCS rep and see if he still has his files, that coupled with the evidence I can present should be enough to get the ball rolling. Failing the PCS rep I’d probably go to the CAB or try to get legal advice elsewhere, what I find most annoying is that people like Medusa and Jabba are still working to hidden targets that basically ruin peoples’ lives and creates a cycle of debt where the person is completely unable to afford to get out of debt which is created by these people (Medusa, Jabba & IDS).

        Fingers crossed my own project will take off to the point where I will never need to go into the JCP again, I certainly won’t miss it.

        One final point, whilst I was working at the JCP I did come across a few good people (employees) though funnily enough none of them were in managerial roles, and all were feeling the pinch of the Tories cuts (which don’t apply to MP’s). Also of note was that on about 5 occasions (in a year long period) staff members had wiped excrement over the toilet walls, I’d guess as a means of protest, though it might have been one of the management knowing how bestial they can be.

        Liked by 1 person

  8. Fabian

    Hi Pete
    Well done for standing up to the DWP bullies, if only more people would. Did you get any specialist help/advice in taking on this fight?

    Like

    Reply
  9. ben russell

    Hi Pete, very sorry to hear about your sanction fight them all the way….I have witnessed this horrendous IDS agenda to it’s fullest with Stroud Job Centre, similar story, sanctioned for attending a job interview, housing benefits stopped due to lies from the advisor Mr Hitler (not it’s real name but befits the vile bullying bastard), made to feel like a convict even though another advisor had given permission to attend the interview and put it on the computer so there would be no ‘errors of Judgement’….currently 3 months without a job (applying for everything that comes up regardless of suitability), no money only just had housing benefits reinstated (according to them Sentence completed)…relying on Mum to spare any money she has though she has little herself (hating having to beg), don’t drink, smoke, go out, drive, holiday, not even a chocolate bar….A.Witness called in for last interview with Mr Hitler, A.Witness unbeknown to Mr Hitler and the manager heard all the cat calls and abuse first hand that they shouted across the room, was a classic moment when they shut up and realised someone else was there along with all other members of staff who quite clearly heard their ‘rude, bullying banter’….never in my life have I seen anything so humiliating and degrading as the Job Centre in Stroud and Mr Hitler…IDS needs the boot and so does this ‘sanction’ crap…from ‘not a convict but a hardworking person who just needs a chance to prove his worth’

    Liked by 3 people

    Reply
  10. Nick

    Have you ever thought about issuing them with a commercial liens. . . basically your suing them for damages cause to your mental health. Its an affidavit sworn in front of a notary. It stands in court and no judge can touch it. The only way they can get out of it is too 1. Admit defeat and pay you a sum. 2. Go too jury trial. 3. Wait 99 years for it too run out, during which time you can get a high court writ and get a debt collection company to collect on your behalf ! ! !

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. jonathansharpe

      I believe commercial liens are taken against individuals for loss incurred –
      I thought about doing this – when an employment agency worked in conjunction with the DWP having me sanctioned for wearing shorts when I went to register with them for temporary minimum wage, as and when available work – at the time it was very hot and I was in no way scruffy . Other people were far more scruffy than me ( jeans t- shirts etc ) .
      I tried in vain to find the name of the job centre staff who did this to me – but the DWP simply do not give out this information – they protect people from liability, it was relatively simply to find the name of the recruitment agency employee – but I got a job soon after and didn’t bother after . I was thinking of issuing a lien for many thousands of pounds to include compensation for stress . But imagine if someone lost their house because of actions of an individual an employee of the DWP – the lien could be many many thousands of pounds – The sooner someone does this the better – these people have to learn that we are all responsible as individuals to each other and personally liable for damage harm and or loss , just following order is not a defence – not since the Nuremberg trails ( plenty of information about liens on the internet ) -The commercial lien process http://lien.fmotl.com/

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  11. BizzieLizzie

    Good Luck I hope all goes well for you and you soon find a job. The morons at the Jobcentre are complete sadists. I could not sleep at night if I had to spend all day making people destitute, knowing people can’t afford to eat.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
    1. leedsjon1

      Bizzielizzie: – Quite agree with your comments. What tends to get me most annoyed, though, is the fact that when I have spoken to staff at my local job centre and the rest of JCP (and this has now happened on several occasions) about their sanction regime, they seemed to genuinely believe that sanctions were a really good idea and, this is the worst bit, that they were actually helping people get jobs!!!! What was most disturbing about these conversations (and I use this word ‘disturbing’ deliberately and in its most conventional literal sense – ie in the same way that mentally ill people suffering from psychotic delusions are sometimes described as ‘disturbed’) is that, strangely enough, the people I spoke to were very different to those described in some of the comments on this site. They were not in the least bit patronising, bullying, aggressive or rude – in fact they were quite nice people who were friendly to me and seemed genuinely to want to help. Its just that they honestly seemed to think that sanctions were a really great idea and helped people to find jobs! Is the explanation for this perhaps that DWP is now using some kind of robotic clones who simply repeat standard govt policy parrot fashion?

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Kenny Bain

        This is a psychological mechanism which is known as “groupthink”. It is caused by a nearly universal phenomenon whereby people take their cues from those around them, no matter how distorted norms have become. If you want to know more about this, the man who carried out the Stamford Prison Experiment, a Prof. Philip Zimbardo, wrote a book called “The Lucifer Effect” about its relevance to Abu Ghraib and other human rights abuses. Sadly, it seems the nicest of people, with a record of outstandingly humane behaviour, are just as prone to it as any criminal; it’s all about the system.

        Liked by 1 person

  12. dispise Iain duncan Smith for what he as done to thousands and thousands!

    the department for deceit and sanctions under idiot Duncan smith is ruined that was the bastards plan all along! and he as the death of my lifelong Friend and Neighbor on his hands! after ATOS the french company who don’t pay uk tax! deemed him fit for work! despite him suffering from copd and needing oxygen machine on for 18 hours a day!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  13. Blackbird

    Dear Peter, I document my own experiences of seeking work as a single parent and graduate Fine Artist and Illustrator in my current graphic novel “Cloudbusting”. http://helendearnleyillustration.webs.com/cloudbusting Inspired by Eric Drooker’s “Flood” and a dream, it follows on the narrative from Kate Bush’s Cloudbusting video – where scientist Wilhelm Reich had his research destroyed by the government – placing myself as the protagonist in this narrative. The Jobcentre is referred to as “Jobkill” after Hariton Pushwagner’s brilliant Apocalypse Frieze 🙂 The CAB are very good at helping out with appeals and support – good luck landing that perfect job! 🙂

    Like

    Reply
  14. amanda simpson

    goodluck dont let them get u down i know its hard but keep strong only a few months more and we can get them out forever

    Like

    Reply
  15. Steve Wynn

    More people need to take a stand. But what is crazy to my mind is focus. How can people focus on getting a job when they embroiled in a battle with the ‘system’ where everything is stacked against them. For example sanctions, I have a case with Information Commissioners Office because the DWP refuse to publish how long ‘on average’ mandatory reconsideration can take. This is a process that has to happen, by them before you can appeal or do anything. They have the information and plan on releasing at some future date, to suit them, but how does that help me or anybody now that is being sanctioned?

    Whole system needs to be torn down and rebuilt. An industry has sprang up to get the unemployed into work and all they do is justify their own existence. Time and time again they fail to produce results, but keep getting awarded large contracts because they are preferred suppliers. But nobody can see any wrong, IDS and the current government seek to vilify the unemployed. Yet waste millions paying organisations that produce no results.

    Anyway, good luck in the future. I think there is a growing movement of reasonable people that are starting to say enough is enough and question some of the logic behind DWP policy (or lack of).

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  16. Road Crew

    I’m sure there is someone out there just itching to meet you and capitalize on your genuine talents. Keep yer pecker up. There are genuine people out there but, unfortunately, not in Jobcentres. You will probably have a better hit rate going it alone. Good luck.

    Like

    Reply
  17. shell

    just read your blog and to be honest I am not surprised. When I left University I was desperately looking for jobs and having to go there every two weeks with proof of my searches and being belittled by the person over the desk was a horrifying experience. I eventually did get a job. Part-time and the hours are not childcare friendly (especially difficult as I am a lone parent) and it is not excellent pay but I figured anything was better than going back to the dreaded job centre. However, I now find with my low paid work and after I pay my bills I am actually living on less than when I was unemployed! I was also horrified to learn that they have now taken phones out of the Job Centre therefore those who are skint and jobless now have difficulty calling prospective employers. Gawd damn! Anyhoo, I wish you well with your job search and I am sure you will be employed too. well done for making this experience public as I know many people who are going through the same experiences and it is disgusting…

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  18. Robbie Smith

    Hi Peter,

    Really sorry to hear your nightmare.

    I think you are entitled to claim ESA for the month you’ve been signed off by the doctor. It is a lot of hassle and stressful in itself but you are entitled and it will give you some money and also trigger other things like housing benefit, council tax reduction you may need.

    Ask advice from a service like Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Or perhaps MIND.

    Also contact your MP. When I had problems, as soon as my MP got involved the DWP started to treat me with a lot more respect.

    Like

    Reply
  19. Nick

    Peter, if you’ve been signed off by your doctor you should be able to claim ESA. [You probably won’t get ESA ultimately, but you will get the assessment rate which is the same as JSA and you won’t have to sign on while you’re signed off sick]. Maybe a few weeks without having to waste your time signing on will improve your chances of finding a job. Very best wishes.

    Like

    Reply
    1. IDS as blood on it's hands

      if he goes on esa he will be on assessment rate for a good 12 months as long as he keeps supplying sick notes now known as fit notes. atos are backlogged with thousands upon thousands of claims i know folk who have been on assessment rate for 26 months . the dwp under idiot Duncan compulsive liar smith is ruined. but as someone mentioned that was the cunts intention ! he’s pushing people to poverty so they have no choice to accept poor working conditions on very low pay! that’s the plan in all this! my local job center the other week someone had thrown a pc monitor at the window, no doubt sanctioned destitute. then the week after all along the side of the building some one had spray painted in big bold capital letters sanction center! this was quickly removed but can still be faintly seen to this very day as i have just passed there. i wish you and all luck in ending this absolute nonsense,

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  20. Captain Black

    I’ve just finished the work program (total waste of time)
    During my time they tried to sanction me twice and they overturned on Mandatory reconsiderations
    On my first signing i was met by a real harridan who demanded that i give her my phone number and email address
    i asked her why she wanted it and she said that it was part of the regulations i told her that it not the case
    and that under the terms of the Data Protection act she couldn’t have them, at this point she became very aggressive
    and said “we have them anyway”
    at this point she stopped the interview and told me that i would not allowed to sign on
    i demanded to see the manager but strangely the manager was in a meeting, i refused to move and the manager remained in the meeting for the next 6 hours during the time i was threatened with the Police (which didn’t turn up) but they gave the go ahead to the G4S Gorillas to attack me and throw me out

    i made very strong complaints to the Jobcentre by phone and had my claim transfered to another Jobcentre where i signed, completed my end of work program on and got my money, i was put on daily signing and sent on a 2 week course
    after the first day of the course i turned up to do my daily signing and my way was barred by at least 6 G4S Gorillas
    it seems that i am banned from all Jobcentre plus offices nationwide for 6 months October 30th 2014 to April 30th 2014

    and i have also been sanctioned twice ( 29 October to 25 November and 29 October 2014 to 27th January 2015
    i record all my meetings with DWP staff who seem to be strangers to the truth

    it seems that they don’t like people who stand up for themselves but i have been collecting evidence and will be taking legal action

    Liked by 4 people

    Reply
    1. leedsjon1

      Captain Black – this story is almost as dramatic as Pete Styles’! Sorry to hear about your experience, but again, I’m not at all surprised. I think it should be obvious to everyone who’s ever been part of the JSA system that the current policy is now to attack the most vulnerable customers and you’re quite right – they definitely don’t like people who try to stand up for their rights and complain. I am no longer part of this draconian system – but that’s only because I’m now caring full time for an elderly parent and as such have moved from JSA on to Income Support + Carers’ Allowance – which effectively removes me entirely from the sanctioning regime. While I was on the regime, however, I had a similar experience to you.

      To date I’ve had sanctions going back almost 5 years – although the exact extent of this was not revealed until I started investigating my most recent sanctions and the reasons for them. I then had to demand the manager provide me with a copy of the full sanctioning records which they held on me. I’ve since appealed against some of these – which meant I had to respond to a 14 page summary document written in pseudo-legal terminology designed to convince me that their case was legally watertight and that I had no realistic chance of success. Not to be put off by this thinly veiled threat (I should point out that I have previously worked with the Employment Tribunals Service which brought me into daily contact with leading lawyers, judges and other experts – and so have a lot of experience of dealing with people who make such thinly veiled threats! – the argument ‘you have no chance of success so you might as well give up now’ is one of the oldest tricks in the book if you’re interested), I then looked up the exact regulations and laws which they were using to base their decision on (they are required to do this to comply with the Appeal Tribunal regulations) – and found them to be severely wanting. eg 2 of these so called ‘water tight’ laws which DWP were relying on to make their case dated back to the 1940’s, meaning they were historically out of date and related to the benefit regulations in force at the time – and therefore of little relevance to current Work Programme rules. In addition they related specifically to benefits (some of which no longer exist!) which I was not even claiming – meaning that they had even less relevance to my case. I am hoping that you can tell from reading this that a pattern to DWP’s strategy seems to be developing here..namely, that they quote laws to people in the hope of frightening them into submission. The key point here is that you have to appeal – for only when you do this will they be required to produce a formal response to your complaint highlighting what laws they are using to make their decision. If you don’t appeal, you will never receive this response and will not find out what these laws are that they are using against you.

      Anyway, back to the story. They issued me with a 14 page document highlighting the laws they were using to justify the sanction(s). Having doing just a little bit of legal research online I quickly discovered that there were serious flaws in both their arguments and the authorities cited. I was then required to formally respond to the allegations made against me in a similar pseudo-legal document. I did so, and they had gone into so much detail that my response, once I had included the legal research I had done and various counter arguments, came to 35 pages. This was then sent off to the Tribunal. 1 week before the hearing was due to commence, I received a letter from the Tribunal indicating that the hearing had been cancelled – because the opposing side had backed down and no longer wished to challenge me. Having made further enquiries about this I have since discovered that this is quite a common occurrence. It appears that the entire basis for the current Welfare to Work programmes rests on some pretty shaky legal foundations. Knowing this – which means that on average almost 80% of challenges to benefit decisions and sanctions in particular succeed at the Appeal Tribunal stage – the DWP appear to be following a standard policy of issuing sanctions in the hope that they won’t be challenged. If they are, and they proceed to the Appeal Tribunal stage, they immediately back down – because they know, at least this is my opinion, that they are more than likely to fail – an outcome which would result in them having to pay back the claimant all the money owed to them but which had been withdrawn through the sanction. Its far cheaper for them to simply give up and move on to sanctioning all the thousands of other customers who may not be so willing to challenge them.

      So, having won (even though this was largely by default) my case, the next step was to negotiate with DWP the reimbursement of all the money which had not been paid to me while the sanctions were in force. It is at this point that there is a bit of sting in the tail as far as DWP was concerned. They informed me of a little known and highly devious strategy they were using. During my appeal, knowing that there were several sanctions dating back 4/5 years to be challenged, I stated, several times, that my appeal was against all of these sanctions. This was to avoid the extremely repetitive and time consuming exercise of having to make a separate appeal to each one. DWP responded, however, that this was against procedure – as far as they were concerned, it was only possible to make 1 appeal against 1 decision at a time. It was their opinion, therefore, that I had successfully appealed against only 1 sanction. The problem was that the rules about sanctions meant that, where there were several sanctions on the record, all of these were linked. Since they were linked, no payment could be made in compensation until all the sanctions had been successfully appealed. So, it looked like I was almost back to square one. The sanctions I was challenging occurred under the old regulations (up to November 2013) and so would be appealed using the form GL24. Given the number of sanctions involved, I contacted DWP again to see if I needed to complete a separate GL24 form for each sanction – but was told that it would actually be permitted to use the one form to cover all 4 sanctions so long as I indicated which dates the sanctions were in force for. I was also advised by the Tribunal that, due to a severe backlog of sanction challenges coming through (after all, with millions of people up and down the country being issued with sanctions is this so surprising?), it would be several months (minimum 6) before my case would come up.

      Well, its now been almost a year… and I haven’t heard anything back – so I should probably follow this up again. I’ll keep you posted…

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
      1. Captain Black

        Hi leedsjon1

        Thanks for your support
        It seems that a lot more folks a having the same kind of troubles with sanctions
        The DWP claim that sanctions are used as a last resort which is always a lie as they always reach for a
        sanction as soon as there challenged in any way
        It’s the rule of Carrot and Stick but without the Carrot

        I forgot to mention that the Jobcentre in question is Low Hall in Hemsworth, West Yorkshire
        Like other people on here I’ve had many sanctions
        The first one was for not adding Friends & Family he also tried to make it open ended
        When formal complaint about him and one of the aggressive women there it was brushed under the carpet
        Then all of a sudden housing benefit was suspended and I was accused of housing benefit fraud
        I was ordered in for a taped interview under caution, the officer from Wakefield council got a bit of a
        Shock when I placed a Dictaphone on the table , the interview was cancelled and rebooked
        the next time we meet the Dictaphone was back on the table, he told to turn off I told to make me
        he spluttered and tried to make a threat but thought better of it
        he fired a few questions but it all came to a halt when I wanted to know who had accused me,
        he claimed that it was a next door neighbour (I don’t have any)
        at this point he let slip some details that could only had come from the jobcentre
        I let him know that he had been rumbled and that the jobcentre had been leaking my information
        At this point the interview suddenly ended (i wonder why ??)

        This so called investigation went on for about 7 to 8 months and when he tried to harass me
        I told him that I would only talk to him in court
        At that point the investigation stopped and I got all my money back
        All this happened in 2006/2007 in my first year of moving to Yorkshire
        And I have had sanctions attempts every year since (2 to3 on average)
        So much for the warm welcome then

        Liked by 1 person

  21. Disabled Guy

    You could take out a student loan and do a additional higher education course in the Open University. You then could claim for a maintenance loan & grant. This would give you roughly £175 to £219 a week to live on and your tuition fees would also be paid. It works out at 15k to 17k debt a year in a Government student loan.

    I feel the Government is pushing more people to do this than be a part of the regime of sanctioning.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  22. Sarah Taylor

    Hi Peter, sorry to hear your story. I will like and share on Facebook, if the story goes viral perhaps that is your best chance of getting things resolved to your satisfaction. One other reader commented you should try Citizens Advice, most have a specialist Welfare Benefits advisor, who would have the knowledge and clout to help you. Good luck and I hope things improve for you.

    Like

    Reply
  23. Me

    Peter, might I suggest that you visit this forum – http://www.getoutofdebtfree.org/forum/index.php. Ignore the fact that it says Debt Free, as the forum also has a vast amount of information regrading how to overturn overzelous and sometimes downright unlawful/illegal sanctions. Sign up and search for member posts made by a chap called assassin, amongst others. You’ll be supprised just how much power you have against the arseholes in the Job Centres. Make THEM accountable to you.

    Course, it all depends if you’re willing to cross that line and take them on………

    Lose the fear.

    Liked by 1 person

    Reply
  24. C

    If you actually did apply for 67 jobs and got nothing.. maybe your CV or attitude is the problem?

    Going by your statements I’m going with attitude. Quit acting like a prissy 17 year old, get off your arse and actually try to get a damn job and you’ll get one

    Like

    Reply
    1. greenorgohome

      ‘C’ if you actually read what he wrote you might see that he’s a human being, I’m guessing you’re a DWP-Troll-Bot since all you’re doing is trying to defend the DWP from would be attack and not actually proving anything, rather you’re just trying to provoke an aggressive response.

      Either that or you’re just another inbred fop born with a silver spoon stuck up your backside who’s probably not done a day of hard work since mommy owns half of some county that she inherited after her mother was raped by a royal?

      Like

      Reply
    2. leedsjon1

      Do you have some sort of learning disability or trying really hard to be completely dim? The guy has applied for 67 jobs in 2 weeks! – so why does he need to get off his backside (your words) and find 1 job? He’s already tried to find 67 dimwit … do the maths.

      Liked by 1 person

      Reply
  25. Class War exists

    I keep returning to your story,Firstly im terribly sorry for you’re situation.
    I’ve been employed for around 20 years,13 of those in the same job.
    Recently iv’e been told im being made redundant and have sunk into a deep depression
    As a dinosaur at age 45,with no skills or qualifications, i find myself in a world i know nothing about & Unable to make sense of anything right now.
    All i know is the camaraderie im getting from those already in your situation or facing it is a great help to me.
    I have never demonized the unemployed,nor looked down on them & realize the struggle is not against finding a job (though hopeless enough) but in the war this bastard of a government is waging on us with such malevolence & cruelty.

    A time for comradeship has never been needed more and if anything at all positive can come from this its as a society we can treat each other a little more humanely in the face of the real enemy.

    i wish you well.

    Like

    Reply
  26. Jacqui Hood

    My heart goes out to you and many in the same position. I am disgusted at how people are being treated. Good luck – I sincerely hope you find something in the not too distant future.

    Like

    Reply
  27. Sandie

    That was quite heart breaking to read. Good luck, I hope you find something soon. I detest this government with a passion for how they are wrecking peoples lives, people’s self respect and I do so hope that they get voted out in the next election. Keep smiling. X

    Like

    Reply
  28. BrianG

    Your comment about “…the recruitment sector seems to have been reduced to a sausage factory…” paraphrases things I’ve often said to friends, family and the JobCentre staff – getting past the recruitment agents and how applying for jobs is like wading through mud only to hit a brick wall at the end.

    My area is IT and I have nearly 30 years of a very broad experience. I recently had a phone call from an agent out of the blue (I hadn’t even applied for the job but she’d spotted my CV online) . She read the “key skills” section of a job description and I replied “yep I can do that and that and that” but when I went into detail about certain bits (and how I had limited knowledge) she basically said “Sorry I have no idea about this stuff, I’ve never worked with IT”…and that’s what it comes down to.

    If more employers advertised directly and judged the quality of applications themselves there would be far fewer people out of work – in particular people with decades of knowledge and experience.

    Having been registered self-employed for the past few years, I’m now seeking permanent employment – unfortunately, being self-employed meant I could only pay Class 2 NIC so I’m not eligible for Contributions Based JSA so I get Income Related JSA which takes my wife’s income into account – as a result I only get £17.50 per week as my wife is retired and receiving State Pension.

    I owe a huge amount in overdrafts and credit card bills due to my business failing and my wife and I are going through a process of removing her name from any bank accounts that also have my name on as I’m basically going to have to declare myself bankrupt.

    If the bailiffs turn up I can legitimately say the only things I own are my clothes and shoes and everything else belongs to my wife. Scary to think that I’m just a lodger in my own house and a horrible situation to be in but that’s what we’re reduced to.

    Like

    Reply
  29. Captain Black

    Another day another Sanction
    I called the Jobcentre to check on things only to find that they added another sanction
    That makes 3 sanctions in less than 2 weeks

    2 weeks back I was on a 2 week course that is run by a man called John Whittle a little real chancer
    And a real snake oil salesman
    He spent most of time telling the inmates that they had done every single thing wrong in their
    Search for work, telling people to lie on their CVs and also tried to tell us that the Jobcentre was
    above the law and could anything they wanted until I pulled him on that
    on Wednesday the 5th of November before the end of the day he said that we all have to bring in:
    our email logins and passwords our universal jobmatch logins and passwords and a printed copy of
    our CVs, apparently we if we didn’t then we couldn’t pass the course ?????

    the next day we all turned up and he asked about my CV, I told that he could look at it on my tablet
    he could comment and advise me about re-writing it if need be but he could not have a copy of it
    this is because it is Personal data and is protected by the Data Protection act 1998
    as this point I was asked to leave the course and we went downstairs to be released

    and once downstairs was then told by John Whittle and the staff that they were trying to apply for a
    job for me on my behalf
    but they wouldn’t let me see any details of the job but they wanted was a copy of my CV
    so that could send it off to company and as on the staff said
    “we can cut out the middle can and guarantee me an interview ”
    I said no I’ll apply for my own jobs and I was asked to leave the course
    I later found that they were trying con me into working for an agency called Primetime
    this agency specialises in zero hours jobs
    it seems that in order to pass this course (they get paid when you pass)
    and to pass you have to give up Data protection writes

    so it seems that you can be sanctioned twice in the same day
    one sanction upstairs and one sanction downstairs on the same day
    and now they’re trying to stop me getting a mandatory reconsideration
    I have tried to call 3 times today and the phone has been hung up on me 3 times in a row
    (all recorded) they like to record you but don’t like when you do the same

    On the 4th call I got a lady from a different department she gave the address to write to as I was not
    Sent any forms to do it

    I will be setting up a blog soon and I will be publishing the letters and the recordings online and naming
    and shaming this bunch of scrotes

    Sanctions far 29 October to 25 November and 29 October 2014 to 27th January 2015 and 29 October 2014 to 10th February 2015

    i’m waiting for the next sanctions

    Liked by 2 people

    Reply
  30. captain black

    Found out today that two letters I posted last week
    (my Hardship application and my postal signing voucher) have gone missing in the postal (read the DWP postal centre) system so I have been signed off and have to reapply and then re send my Hardship application
    How convenient for Jobcentre plus staff who sanctioned me and as yet no Mandatory reconsideration forms (6 weeks and counting)

    Like

    Reply
  31. Captain Black

    On the 28th of October 2014 I was involved in an incident at Job centre plus Low hall Hemsworth
    At 9am i attended an end of work programme interview
    The interviewer acted in an aggressive and threatening manor in an attempt to intimidate me
    However this failed and I was told that I would not be allow to sign for my benefit
    I was also stopped from making a complaint to the manager at low hall Hemsworth about this action
    I made a complaint by phone and made a request to move my claim form Hemsworth Low Hall to
    Pontefract Jobcentre Plus

    Where on the 29th october 2014 the end of work programme interview was completed without incident
    I later found that Due to the totally dishonest account given by the members of staff at low hall Hemsworth
    That I was ileagally sanctioned on the 29th october 2014 for 4 weeks for allegedly not attending the interview on the 28th October 2014
    and banned from all UK Job centre plus offices for a period of 6 months from the 30th of October
    2014 for alleged aggressive and threatening behaviour This has never been proved

    When the sanction was challenged, it reduced and then dropped completely
    A further sanction initiated by Julie Carrit of St. Marys Community Centre The Circle in Pontefract
    This was lapsed (I won) due to the fact that she lied though her teeth to get the sanction

    on the 1st may 2015 after the ban I returned to:
    Pontefract Jobcentre Plus
    Challand House
    Liquorice Way
    Pontefract
    West Yorkshire
    WF8 1DR

    To find that I have been moved to a “screened area” small room with a glass partition
    So in effect the illegal ban placed on the 29th october 2014 is still in place

    It seems that the DWP doesn’t like it when we make complaints
    so my first visit will be a DWP Compliance Officer Interview by a Steve Willson
    who will attempt to accuse me of fraud
    this has happened every time i make complaints that hit the mark

    It seems that the DWP doesn’t like it when we take on sanctions
    Winning 2 out of 5 sanctions so far due stuff and providers caught lying

    the future behavior of all DWP staff will be monitored very very closely at every point of contact

    The evidence is mounting

    Like

    Reply
  32. Captain Black

    The latest news on my hassles with Pontefract Jobcentre Plus
    on the 1st may 2015 after the ban I returned to:
    Pontefract Jobcentre Plus
    Challand House
    Liquorice Way
    Pontefract
    West Yorkshire
    WF8 1DR

    To find that I have been moved to a “screened area” a private room with 20mm thick glass partition
    So in effect the illegal ban placed on the 29th October 2014 was still in place
    When asked for the reason why they refused to answer but you can guess the reason why
    This lasted for 6 months until i grew tried and warned them by letter on the 29th of September 2015
    that if they insisted on these arrangements that I would video the next interview
    so they had two weeks warning
    on the 13th of October I turned up with my video camera and they asked me if I was recording I
    answered “not yet”
    They “terminated” the interview and demanded that I leave I refused as I had not signed
    The police were called after a detailed discussion with the officers (4+) we agreed to leave the building
    When outside one of the officers gave me a job card and suggested that I call 101 and ask for an
    officer for the next time I turned up in order to keep the peace

    I had the labelled by the staff as “PV” which is short for “Potentially Violent”

    after some digging I found that I might be on The Potentially Violent Persons Register

    I called the DWP a number of times about signing
    And when I finally got through to someone I was given an appointment to attend the next day where
    On the 14th of October the same thing happened but this time the staff must have been very
    embarrassed as it appeared as I had done nothing wrong and police weren’t about to make an arrest so I got signed

    Oddly it didn’t get put into payment it took 6 days (normal is 2) only when I threatened to go down there did the benefit centre sort it for me

    I have now been banned from all job centres for 12 more months

    No one has been shouted at, nothing broken and police and I left the building via different doors

    Despite the police turning up with lights and sirens blazing

    (JCP staff lied in an effort to cause a punch up but the police went away empty handed) 😀

    6 SANCTIONS , 6 APPEALS WON SO FAR ……………RECORDING, …. WORKS 😀

    The evidence is mounting

    Like

    Reply
  33. Captain Black

    and now another Sanction
    on the 24 of august i was sent to do Mandatory Work Activity by the Jobcentre
    set up by Interserve Learning & Employment
    yes the same folks that ran the work programme that I was on and spent most of the time trying to sanction me (3 times)
    they sent me to the salvation army
    I was happy to do the activity but I was not going to sign up as a volunteer
    (Mandatory Work Activity it’s in the name)
    The manager, (Sam ex English teacher) invented a story claiming that I refused to do the activity and I gave up my place, one new sanction

    I recorded and transcribed the 10 minute conversation and now were waiting for a tribunal date

    If your sent on Mandatory Work Activity never sign anything to say that your volunteering

    IT IS MANDATORY WORK ACTIVITY
    YOU ARE NEVER ASKED TO VOLUNTEER

    The evidence is mounting

    Like

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s