For the past 21 years I have been sheltered away from times when I had to start relying upon myself. I had parents looking after me and then a few grueling years of education. After that, with a degree and as much as experience I could get, I am supposed to be going out on my own.
Unfortunately it is not that simple as unemployment figures keep creeping up and even the most experienced and over qualified people are finding it difficult to keep their jobs.
To add further woes even when you are sitting in your living room watching daytime TV and browsing job sites this still costs money that you don’t have thanks to the wonder of bills.
The state have thought of this in terms of unemployment benefit, namely job seekers allowance which is an adequate sum of money to help with rent, food and other bills as long as you prove that you are looking for work.
There is a stigma attached to this though. That anyone who is claiming job seekers is screwing the system over as they are trying to get disability benefits as well as getting help to pay the council tax or you can’t hold down a job because you are an alcoholic nipping to and from prison every other week whilst you ignore your children.
This entire notion is ridiculous, but something did put me off from claiming benefit once I had no job to go to. I think an element of it is pride, you want to prove that you can do this on your own and that you won’t have to wait long for people to be calling you saying that there is a job in London that only you can do out of the whole population.
Eventually I realised I should start claiming just in case I need the extra money for anything, or unemployment becomes a long-term venture. Plus it made sure I would have to get out of the house every now and again.
Somehow this is a decision I am beginning to regret as after six weeks I still have not received any money and I am not entirely sure I will.
So after taking the plunge and filling in a form that was one step away from asking what my children’s children were going to call their pet goldfish I sent it off and expected to hear from then in a couple days like they had said would happen.
I did get some correspondence saying that they had tried to get in touch with me but I had not responded which is news to me. So this meant I was not taking the claim seriously and they would stop all this now unless I called them.
Only mildly annoying.
So I called the next day and explained what had happened for a poor woman to explain that my name was on the system but it had not saved any of my details including things like National Insurance number. So we started it all again on the phone and she backdated it all for me, we had a few problems like the computer crashing twice but we got it done. Appointment booked to prove that I was real at the Job Centre.
Here I learnt that my records had been lost again, so we started from scratch once again and many pieces of paper that equal me were photocopied and stored away.
There was only one small hitch. I live with my boyfriend so I had to fill out a form claiming job seekers for the two of us. But he is not job hunting because he is a student, so there would be a small delay in my application because we needed to make him exempt from my claim. We provided them with all the evidence that they needed and were told “no news is good news” and that money should appear soon.
I went to sign on next time and was told I no longer needed to go to the Job Centre, and it was not because they had found some elusive job for me but just cocked up a lot. Somehow a “decision maker” had seen that I had graduated recently and was looking for work whilst living with my boyfriend who is a full time student and accepted this as I was a student and my boyfriend was looking for work.
On top of this I was supposed to be meeting my personal adviser who was going to help me with my CV and have a general chat about employment prospects, but this had been cancelled because I was no longer on their records as a person wanting to claim job seekers allowance.
A few apologetic phonecalls later I was told it would be sorted out straight away and I would receive my money in the next few days. Until about the tenth person to look at my claim realised that it was missing evidence and forms that should have been filled out by the office so it wasn’t going to be completed for a while unless I ran in with evidence that minute, but I was on the way to a job interview which was just about reason enough not to be at the Job centre for them.
The reason I was told as to why this has not gone right for me in anyway is because the Lincoln office is not trained properly, but even this doesn’t make sense as people in the Lincoln office have told me that they are part of the new training scheme for the more human approach to benefits.
So in a way I have been wanting to prove that I can do it on my own and I have been as I have had many job interviews and sent off many applications without a single ounce of help from the Job Centre. In fact all they have done is cause more harm than good, but again at least it means I do leave the house now and again to find out the next stupid thing they have done with my claim.