Advantages Seem happy to give me (although pitiful) money
Disadvantages Most advisors I encountered didn't know their arse from their elbow!
Late last year I returned from working abroad to discover first-hand just how difficult the recession was making it to find a job here in the UK. I am well-used to spending a few months away, having an adventure, then picking up a temp job, saving some more money, and repeating. All of a sudden, my plan wasn't working out, and I was forced to go onto Jobseekers' Allowance (hereafter JSA).I appreciate that there is a lot more to Jobcentre Plus, that each varies immensely (this I know to be true after hearing friends' horror stories) and that despite having used the service for a few months, I am by no means an expert in everything they do. For this reason, I will only be referring to my own experiences using it in connection with my job search and JSA.
Having applied online for JSA, I was quickly called back and an interview was arranged for me to go into my nearest Jobcentre Plus to set up a new claim.When I arrived I checked in at the desk, who were relatively friendly, and sent to fill in some paperwork while I waited for my advisor. And waited, and waited, and waited...when I was finally seen, I quickly realised I was speaking with a complete moron. Now, I thought perhaps these people were supposed to aid ME in some way, but instead I found myself struggling to make the advisor comprehend my answers to simple questions. Because I have been a student with the Open University over the last few years, I needed to disclose information about my studies. My advisor didn't even seem to know that the OU is a distance uni, and kept demanding an address and how many times a week I had to go into classes.
After finally drilling in to my advisor what exactly OU is all about, I was all set and received my money quickly enough into my bank account. Having been told when I created my "Jobseeker's Agreement" the kind of commitment to finding work I must show, I dutifully brought proof of my job search along to show when I next signed. Not once, even in my six-week interviews, was I asked for any evidence of actively looking for a job! In fact, sometimes they didn't even ASK me how it was going. No surprise then that so many people manage to stay out of work, by choice, for so long.Each time I went to sign I had a different advisor, some who were friendly and intelligent, some not. The friendly ones could see I was genuinely trying, by listening to how I had attempted to find work, and gave me information of websites to try. Some merely grunted at me, with the occasional offer of looking up jobs on the system, most of the ones they found being unsuitable. Once I was, despite being a seasoned in the job role I was looking for, urged to go on an unpaid work experience, during which time I would receive my pitiful JSA payment but also be expected to pay travel costs to and from work all week and, of course, have less time to look for a real job. No thanks!
During my time on JSA my overwhelming impression was just how easy it is to cheat the system and become bone idle.
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