Got a voluntary job – and then sacked from the voluntary job, because someone “better” came along… how unemployment rolls. More on #UniversalCredit…

There are longer transcripts from these interviews at the end of this post.

I recorded the two interviews below last Wednesday at the Universal Credit protest outside Stockport jobcentre.

The first interview was with Mark, 46.

Mark signs on at Stockport jobcentre. He receives Universal Credit. I’ve spoken with Mark before.

The last time I spoke with Mark, he was pissed off, because the jobcentre wouldn’t let him use a jobcentre phone to make a call about a voluntary job at a local cafe.

This time, Mark was pissed off, because he’d managed to get that voluntary job, but had just been sacked from it.

The person who’d taken him on had received three more applications for the role and had obviously decided that one of applicants was an improvement on Mark.

To Mark’s surprise, he was told that he’d never actually got the job, even though he was very sure that he had. He was told that his few weeks in the job were actually meant as a sort of training course. This so-called “training course” had suddenly come to an end, which meant that Mark had to go.

This explanation for Mark’s dismissal was clearly made-up-on-the-spot garbage, but Mark had to wear it. This “We Want You – No, We Don’t Want You,” stuff happens all the time to people who are out of work:

Mark said:

“I’m getting nowhere fast… I landed it [the voluntary job] myself at the housing office, didn’t I. The coffee shop. Got sacked two weeks ago… I lasted 11 [sic] weeks. She sacked me two weeks ago. Apparently, she got three more job applications… [they said it was a] training course… it wasn’t training. I put in for a job… [then] she said it was training. I did 11 weeks and they sacked us.”

So, there was that.

Since we were there and since there’s nothing else in the news, I asked Mark what he thought of Brexit negotiations. I usually ask people this, to see how people who are most affected by austerity feel as the Brexit shambles progresses (if “progresses” is the word).

Mark said:

“Brexit? It’s a joke. I’m sick of hearing about it. It’s pissed. [We’ve been in the EU] for 40 years. How do you untangle that? I can understand why David Cameron, [George] Osborne walked out of it. They only put it [the referendum] out for a joke, but now it’s for real…

“I kind of wanted to stay [in Europe], so I put the opposite vote in for it, because I thought we [people without money] would get shafted either way. So, I voted for Leave, but I didn’t really mean it…it doesn’t make any difference. We’re still going to let every fucker over here. We still going to have people buying BMWs and foreign cheese and wine. It’s not going to make no difference. It’s just about… how much more do we pay for the privilege of buying it all?”

So, there was that as well.

The next interview was with Steve, 17

Steve was standing across the road from the jobcentre in a group of five or six kids. They had noticed the Universal Credit protest banners outside the jobcentre. They were waving at the protestors outside the jobcentre and yelling “Free the weed! Free the weed!”

Fair play. I went over to talk with them.

These boys were all 16 or 17. They were mostly studying GCSEs at a college which is over the road from the jobcentre.

“This is a college for people like us,” one of the boys said wryly.

Steve, 17, talked at length about his living and studying conditions.

Steve had been homeless since he was 14. At the time of writing, he had a (very) temporary berth in an unpleasant-sounding homelessness hostel:

“I’ve got people on my landing smoking crack, heroin – who are injecting heroin. I’m getting up in the night smelling crack, heroin…”

Steve was attending classes at the college, because he’d been told he would be made homeless if he didn’t:

“I’ve got to go here [to college]. Housing and jobcentre have said to me that if I don’t go to a college, then they stop the housing benefit and they will make me homeless. I’m 17. It’s cold living in a hostel… I’ve bidded for three flats, but I can’t do them if I can’t keep my work. They’re making me pay £112 a week for a hostel, because me housing benefit isn’t on.”

That was Steve.

——–

There’s more from Mark and Steve in the longer transcripts below.

There’ll be more from them in the future, too. Nobody’s problems are solved. Nobody moves on. While Brexit sucks in the entire political class, austerity and poverty for others grind on and on. It’s always the same at jobcentres, foodbanks and crappy colleges “for people like us” – homelessness, an appalling lack of opportunity and whole lives lived in the shadow of punishing DWP and council bureaucracies.

Nothing changes. Nothing is changing. And – that’s it.

–———

Here are the longer transcripts:

Mark, 46. Stockport jobcentre, Wednesday 21 November:

“I’m getting nowhere fast… I landed it [the voluntary job] myself at the housing office, didn’t I. The coffee shop. Got sacked two weeks ago… I lasted 11 [sic] weeks. She sacked me two weeks ago. Apparently, she got three more job applications… [they said it was a] training course… it wasn’t training. I put in for a job… [then] she said it was training. I did 11 weeks and they sacked us.

I walked [out] the Friday morning… I did the Thursday and it didn’t sit well. I went in Friday morning and I walked…I can walk any time I want. They sacked us. They couldn’t sack me Friday, because they’d already sacked me, so what’s the point?

Universal Credit – been on it a couple of years. It drags it out between the paydays, that bit longer…instead of every two weeks, it’s every month. You’re skint by the end of the month. We’re all still skint…so it’s in the bank on the Friday…

Get about £600 [a month] even though about half of that it [is] my rent, Water as well. Rent is like £300+ something each month. Keep that stuff in front… pay out for the household bills – gas, electric… then the rest has to last. Not a lot left to show.

Brexit? It’s a joke. I’m sick of hearing about it. It’s pissed. [We’ve been in the EU] for 40 years. How do you untangle that? I can understand why David Cameron, [George] Osborne walked out of it. They only put it [the referendum] out for a joke, but now it’s for real…

“I kind of wanted to stay [in Europe], so I put the opposite vote in for it, because I thought we [people without money] would get shafted either way. So, I voted for Leave, but I didn’t really mean it…it doesn’t make any difference. We’re still going to let every fucker over here. We still going to have people buying BMWs and foreign cheese and wine. It’s not going to make no difference. It’s just about… how much more do we pay for the privilege of buying it all? Take a leaf out of Trump’s book and sue the bastards.”

Steve, 17. Wednesday 21 November:

“I live on me own… so I live on me own. I don’t live with me mum and dad. All these [the other boys Steve was at college with] live with their mums and dads.

I’ve got to go here [to college]. Housing and jobcentre have said to me that if I don’t go to a college, then they stop the housing benefit and they will make me homeless. I’m 17. It’s cold living in a hostel… I’ve bidded for three flats, but I can’t do them if I can’t keep my work. They’re making me pay £112 a week for a hostel, because me housing benefit isn’t on.”

A boy called James said: “Have you ever seen a prison cell? It’s like that [in Steve’s room in the hostel].”

Steve:

“Absolutely. A prison cell. If I go like that [he stretched out his arms] I can touch the walls.

James: “What’s his room like, eh.”

Everyone in the group wanted to see cannabis made legal:

“It’s become legalised on the NHS for medical. Well, we’re getting somewhere.”

Steve said:

“I’m literally just here, because of the jobcentre. They said if I didn’t go here then in their words, the housing worker said to me, “if you don’t attend college and you don’t sign on and get your own little bit of an income,” they said that, “basically, you’re going to be on the streets and you won’t be able to get a full tenancy.

The jobcentre has given me JSA for under 18s to the end of November. So, they give me a JSA, but I’ve been trying to get a claim for about three months, so for the past three months, I’ve had no money. I’ve not really been eating proper. Even he’s [James] asked me a few times – “you been eating, bro?” I’ve not been eating. Where I’m staying, I’ve got people on my landing smoking crack, heroin – who are injecting heroin, I’m getting up in the night smelling crack, heroin.”

James: “The oven doesn’t even work [in the hostel].

Steve: “Oven doesn’t work proper. I’ve got to share a bathroom with three other people. Got to share a kitchen with three other people. Got to share. All blokes. All older than me. There’s a big, big Polish guy in the room next door. I’m only 17. I’m still under the age of 18, so I am still classed as a child in the eyes of the law, so why are they putting me in a… living with a guy who smokes crack, which they are aware of in a hostel…

Been in there five or six weeks. Before that I was like… I was homeless since I was 14, but I haven’t been living on the streets. My mum kicked me out when I was 14 and started selling weed, started all that.

We’ve got no way of getting money out, so we have to go to [sell weed].

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50 thoughts on “Got a voluntary job – and then sacked from the voluntary job, because someone “better” came along… how unemployment rolls. More on #UniversalCredit…

  1. I once was turned down for a Voluntary job that I applied for working in a charity shop, about 3 years ago. I had to have a proper interview and subsequently received a letter saying I had been unsuccessful and that they were unable to offer me a position at that time. Bloody cheek!

    • This is probably cold hearted but if all these charities fucked off and left the ones who should be responsible for it’s populations welfare namely the Government then it would speed up the process of real change, but as long they are there profiting from others misery and picking up the pieces it absolves those in power from doing anything about it.

      • Which precisely why using the Third Sector is part of government policy. Failures are not down to the government, but to the policies of individual charities.

        Once could question the motives of those behind the Trussell Trust, as I’ve seen it alleged that its founders are Tories. Indeed, I wonder where is the initiative from the trade union sector in providing the alternative safety net along the lines of the system that operated in the South Wales Valleys area during the 84-85 Miners Strike. The former smacks of charity, and the latter, if it existed, would be solidarity, yet both would be voluntarist.

        Personally I think the vast majority of chariities should fuck off, as you say Sourchimp, excpet those dealing with animals and health issues, though even here some of those charities are guilty of mistreating DWP supplied slave labour under Workfare.

        The irony is, which few seem to get, is contemporaneously the government launched it’s campaign against modern slavery! And. while we’re about it, let’s be blunt about it, even if you’re ‘fortunate’ enough to have a job, these days it’s more likely than not that it will be some kind of zero, or short hours contract that demands that you’re at the beck and call of the company – virtual slavery.

        I have a friend who was at one time supplied as slave labour to one of these charities, and eventually she was sacked for insisting in her rights as a worker, such as ensuring that the charity’s Employer’s Liability insurance covered forced labour, to which she got no definite answer, and indeed, like so many other charities, simply declared that the forced workers were “volunteers~” which is not only a lie, but would also be likely to land them in serious hot water should something happen to one of these workers.

        The government, through the DWP sought to treat their slave labour scheme as a ‘black box’ that they effectively franchised, giving over control to the provider companies, who also saw it as none of their business to ensure that things like basic Health & Safety requirements were respected, or that the forced workers were covered by insurance. It’s my guess that hardly anyone would have been covered by insurance, as I doubt that any insurance company would want to take on the risks of covering workers that were a) effectively slaves, and b) so little regarded that they wouldn’t have been properly trained for the roles they were doing – they were, after all providing their labour for free, and were therefore expendable. Amonsgt the long list of DWP requirements for those sentenced to Workfare, insurance cover was significant by its absence. The DWP didn’t ask, and didn’t want to know.

        There are very few charity shops that get any trade from me these days

        • Yep the Trussel trust are just another bunch of poverty pimps amongst the many other charities that will not speak out against the sanction regime for it is the hand that feeds them

      • I aknowledge what you’re saying about many charities but like with foodbanks, the one where I volunteer for instance is an independent one founded by the Methodist Mission and is not connected to Trussel, and whilst I know that foodbanks exist as a symptom of a failed State many people would be fucked without them.

        • But if foodbanks did not exist would we really be fucked or would it not be the case that there would indeed be mass civil unrest and disobedience unless the government took on the responsibility the are supposed to be tasked with.

          Some might die if all these foodbanks packed up and went away but how many are dying anyway and the longer they provide a patch for the government they are happy to continue to pile on the pressure and ignore their responsibilities and therefore more and more people will die.

          Banning foodbanks in my opinion would save more lives and end the misery sooner in the long run.

          • I getwhatyou’resaying,it would all come to a head sooner, and the system would collapse,the NHS alone wouldn’t be able to cope with a million people beingtreated for Malnutrition,and there would be riots and bodies in the streets. But vI don’t think the Government would let tha t happen, they’d impose Martial Law and start shooting people, and round up the rest in concentration camps.

          • There are dead bodies on the streets already when another homeless person is found and many are already suffering from malnutrition.

            The NHS can go to fuck its useless anyway and who is this government to order troops onto the streets to quell unrest they are only a bunch of managers the people supposedly employ. Sack them all dismantle parliament and start afresh.

            So bring it I say lets see where it takes us because surely anything is better than what we have now and really is it not time to stop flogging the dead horse called democracy.

          • But realistically you can’t just leave millions of people to starve, including families with children,and despite our political views foodbanks do provide a vital lifeline for many people in every town& city across the country.It shouldn’t be this way but it is, and it could be any one of us in such a position,yyou or I might be in need of a food parcel one day.

            For example:

            https://www.examinerlive.co.uk/news/west-yorkshire-news/rise-working-poor-food-banks-13446632

          • Well lets take peace keepers as analogy for these foodbanks charity.

            When there are two warring factions and peace keepers get involved it suppresses the natural progression of events, So a war that might last a few months with a 100,000 deaths does not occur.

            But because of the peace keepers involvement the war now last 1,2,3-5 10 years and beyond and results in the deaths of millions.

            It might seem heartless but the numbers game stack up in my opinion in favour over getting it over sooner rather than later.

      • Essentially it was a Retail job, of which I have no previous experience. It was a shop in the town centre that raises money for a local childrens charity. I would have preferred, and been more suited, to volunteering at their other premises, a workshop where they repair/restore old furniture, but it’s situated out of town too far away for me.

  2. Hostels need scrapping, most are cesspit’s and over charge for supposed services they do not deliver. what is the fucking problem with building houses, we have the space we have the materials we have the work force.

      • Due to their nature, they are very difficult places to manage. A well-run hostel is a completely different matter, but those cause as many troubles as they solve, and tend to be a bit like prisons, according to one service user I was chatting to. (In a former life I used to be a hostel worker) The stricter, generally better managed ones tend to evict those who habitually break the rules, which hardly solves homelessness, and expecting a homeless person with a chaotic lifestyle to be able to work their way through the system until they become ‘deserving’ of consideration for a home of their own is insane, as well as almost doomed to failure.

        It’s rarely going to happen that the person is going to be able to jump through all the hoops. Fortunately the idea of Housing First, which is already quite widespread in the USA of all places, is beginning to gain traction here in the UK. Of course, there is nothing like nearly enough of it happening. When you think about it, it should spring immediately to mind that the one thing a person needs after food and water, is secure shelter.

        Temporary arrangements might work with migratory populations, but homeless people hardly fit that description, despite there being a ‘hard core’ of homeless people who do go on the tramp. Most places still enforce the ‘local connection’ clause in their homelessness policies. A place to call home shouldn’t be a privilege to be taken away, but a right.

        On the subject of housing, I was just thinking last night about how things have changed in terms of government policies towards social housing. some 40 or so years ago, bot main political parties sought to outdo each other in the provision of genuinely affordable and decent housing. And to think that in 1971 the vice chair of Lambeth council’s hosing department a certain Sir John Major approved the building of a housing estate designed by a communist, Cressingham Gardens, which was carefully designed to suit the needs of people. It’s now threatened with demolition and redevelopment of course.

  3. I am on a mission tomorrow, last week after another dispute 2 Work coaches and 1 manager told me that I have spend 35 hours per week job searching while on JSA.

    And that the step based condition no longer applies and was phased out years ago.

    Really ?

    I now have a confirmation letter that is not the case from the director of DWP operations and that JSA is a step based condition 2 or more and still very much alive and kicking.

    • There’s also the small matter of the 1996 Jobseeker’s Act where the test is quite explicit, leaving no doubt, even to half-witted DWP staff. Unfortunately they seem to have sewn up UC very nicely from their point of view. It contains so many aspects directly intended to trip people up and get them a sanction.

      One has to wonder about the sick minds of those who designed the system. I doubt that Duncan Shite and McVile could dream up a scheme like that on their own, even with the help of David Fraud.

      • Exactly Padi, 2 work coaches and a manager actually believed that the JSA Act and regulations were scrapped and replaced years ago by the welfare reform act. They were not kidding and genuinely believed that to be the case.

      • The sick minds behind the likes of shit-for-brains Smith and Lord Fraud, the real Architects of misery, are most probably the Secret Societies that hold great sway and influence in the higher echelons of the Establishment; “RC Christian” and his faceless Masonic chums.

        • It’s unlikely that IDS is a Mason, as he’s a Roman Catholic. But I actually think that that kind of thing is a bit ‘conspiracy theory’. It doesn’t need to be a conspiracy, as collectively and individually we all know that the Tories are shits, and some, like IDS, McVile and Fraud doubly so.

      • Some I know on JSA received a sanction for not actively seeking employment which means they now have to make a fresh claim for Universal Credit or go without any income until they have appealed else if they claimed UC and the appeal was successful they would not be able to go back on legacy benefits.

        It never occurred to me that a sanction could result in a natural migration so I am proactively ensuring my shiny new work coach is up to speed.

        • WHAT? The sneaky bastards. I never knew that a Sanction could lead to UC. They’ll e going all out to . sanction everyone then.

          • A sanction can’t lead to migration to UC, or at least it shouldn’t. A benefit disallowance (ie- for being judged not available for work or not actively seeking, perhaps). A sanction does not break your claim for JSA.

            @Sourchimp- If the person you know was transferred to UC because their JSA was sanctioned then they are breaking the rules.

          • Well ordinarily no it should not, and your right, it is unlawful, they are in good hands and hopefully will get the decision overturned

            https://www.newcastle.gov.uk/sites/default/files/wwwfileroot/benefits-and-council-tax/welfare-rights-and-money-advice/what_triggers_a_claim_for_universal_credit_in_a_full_service_area.pdf

            This is in the regs where a sanction can lead to a natural migration.
            “Legacy benefits continue unless a claim to e.g. HB has to be made, then UC ”

            The problem is because this claim was disallowed they closed it down and there is no way to make a rapid reclaim for JSA in a full service area.

            This throws up the dilemma that if they were to claim UC so they can get an income then there would be no going back to legacy if the appeal was successful or not.
            And if they refrain from claiming UC while they wait for the outcome of appeal which can take a long time then they have no income as they are on no benefit.

    • I have to sign on in the morning too, am dreading it as usual. I hate the fucking place. They seem to have stopped that “Job Shop” bollocks now and it’s back to being grilled by the work coach (aka dole clerk). I’ve got my jobsearch evidence prepared though, but no doubt they’ll still have something to say to justify their existence. Fuck the lot of ’em.

      • Phew, just got back from the Nobcentre, but ain’t it typical, last time I was put on the spotwhen the dole clerk asked to see my jobsearch evidence so this time I wasted 60p printing it all out at the Library, as well as filling in that stupid booklet, and this time they didn’t even look at it. I could have bought a loaf of bread or a tin of catfood with that 60p. Thank God that’s over for another fortnight, I just have to last to Friday now with very little food and 8p to my name. Isn’t life great.

        • This is why I have always insisted on giving my job search verbally and remind each and every work coach of the regulations if they dispute this.

          It is just silly writing down or printing off the 2 or more steps per week that satisfies the legal condition for ASE anything else I do is my business.

          I saw an note on my file today about my recent dispute saying “should we refer Mr Chimp to the decision maker ? ”

          They are really trying to scrape the barrel to put me in line.

          If a Work Coach does raises a doubt now after I have educated them then I will taking that Work Coach to civil court so they cannot hide behind the DWP or claim ignorance it would be a clear case of harassment gross negligence maladministration leading to hardship if they do and I will be not using the internal complaints process.

          My brand new shiny long term work coach is no more after 2 sessions I have been passed over to someone else.

          They said I am the most awkward claimant they have come across and I could see the veins pulsing on their temples lol but fuck them what can they apart from break the law and when they do I am ready.

          .

          • So by insisting that your statutory Rights are adhered to and tha t they do their jobs within the law, you are deemed to be “awkward”. Says it all really.

          • Yep terrible state of affairs when someone is led to believe that office policy is above the Law and therefore they are immune from prosecution.

  4. Signing-on myself, I couldn’t help overhearing one of those Universal Credit calls made by the Work Coach to a working claimant.The Work Coach introduced himself, and said he was just checking-up to see how things were going. He asked a couple of security questions about address and age. Then followed a long list of things like, ‘’Did you ask Mr.Barnwell for more hours ? When did do you do this,… after your shift ?’’ Then he’s listening, and ‘’Did you remember to tell him that you will take any hours, evening or weekend, it doesn’t matter ?’’ Then he’s listening again, then.. ‘’I see, what about the supermarket, did you visit after work on Tuesday ? And take your new CV in ? ‘’ ‘’What did they say ?…’’On Sunday too ?’’ ‘’And when are they going to let you know ?…Wednesday next, good ’’ Then he pauses again and starts typing something onto the record. I was called up to sign-on at this point so I didn’t hear the rest. But you could see a few raised eyebrows amongst those waiting to sign.
    Jesus H. Christ, is this the future for people ?

    • Big Brother is watching you. I know some people have reservations about Labour, but seriously these bastards have got to go. Britain is becoming a Fascist state, and they talk about “modern slavery”, whilst turning us into a nation of Work Slaves obedient to the god of Capitalism. I’ve never known life be so oppressive and psychopathically controlled as it is now in this country.

    • The work coach obviously doesn’t know that you’re entitled to an 11 hour rest period each day between jobs and a day off a week or two every 2 weeks? This will be me soon. A working claimant. I’m dreading it. I have arthritis sciatica and a new pain in the back of my neck and I get up at 5.30am to go clean toilets ect and again at 3.30pm. Since I “only” work 25 hours a week….and I’m exhausted. But still atm there’s a lot worse off than me

  5. Every generation have been generally been better off than their parents generation.

    But for our young generation today that is without doubt not the case.

    It is unnatural to be stuck having to live with parents into 20s and 30s but for many have very little choice.

    Younger people are naturally more resistant to authority and cannot cope with conditionality and the sanction regime and are more likely than any other group to have a benefit doubt raised.

    I understand how hard it is for young people today I see my own son struggle to make his way into the big wide world and all the barriers he has to overcome.

    He refuses to sign on and turns a penny in other ways as do many of his friends to make up for the insecurity of temporary low paid slavery.

    I think the only real thing we all can do the way it is today is survive as best we can as individuals and fuck the collective system.

    • I think I’m poorer than my grandparents, and they were piss-poor, apart from things like modern perks of life, a tv, double glazing, indoor toilet, electric shower, mobile phone etc. but financially and in terms of social standing, or social mobility, no better off whatsoever. I struggle to buy food, clothes/footwear, and to pay Bills just as they did. My prospects are no better. It must be over a decade since I’ve seen the sea, or gone to a pub. But at least I’ve never had to shelter from the Luftwaffe.

      • Well yes on a personal level I am in the same boat but overall our generation could afford housing,did not need foodbanks work paid and social security could be a lifestyle choice and was not subject to conditionality suicide rates were not so high and hostels were where you went for a summer holiday.

        • Yes, I was speaking purely on a personal level. There are people I know (but haven’t seen for years) of my age group who have done very well for themselves, own houses, have financialsecurity,savings,£200K Pensionpots, having had secure employment all their lives. I guess I just fucked up for one reason or another and things just didn’t work out they way they could.

  6. Anyone else got a sinking feeling about the Corbyn v. May debate ?
    He’s not good at this one on one stuff.
    Theresa May is only doing this because she knows she can run rings around him.

    • It’s just a pantomime for the masses, Celebrity Death Match would be better. I won’t even bother watching, the Muppet Show would be more relevant. Notice no TV debate about Austerity, Welfare reform, poverty, foodbanks. How can I even care about Brexit when life is reduced to basic survival?

    • Problem is Trev the Work Coaches have got their own management
      pushing them for targets every day. It doesn’t take much and the coaches themselves are on a warning about poor performance.

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