Loop-de-loop

Well, its been a few years since I last signed on for Job Seekers Allowance, but the surreal situation I find myself in obliged me to do so again today.

So I took a nice walk across town to the Jobcentre today (I dunno why they call it Jobcentre Plus, if anything it should be called Jobcentre Minus IMO).

Bugger me, how things have changed. When I signed on at Stevenage a few years ago, the place was heaving Monday-Friday, 9-5 every day. Colchester Jobcentre was pretty sedate today, which you might expect to be their busiest time of the week.

Walked in, and spoke to the nice G4S Security Guard/Receptionist. ‘I’d like to make a new claim for Job Seekers Allowance please’.

He looked a bit flustered, and then spotted an Advisor and gratefully palmed me off to her.

JCPA: ‘Hello, can I help you?’
Me: ‘Yes, I’d like to make a new claim for Job Seekers Allowance, please’
JCPA: ‘Oh you now have to apply for Universal Credit’
Me: ‘OK, I’d like to apply for Universal Credit then, please’
JCPA: ‘Well, we don’t deal with applications at the Jobcentre anymore, you need to make your application online, or by phone. Do you have a computer at home?’
Me: ‘Yes, I do’
JCPA: OK when you get back home, go to the www.gov.uk/universalcredit website and make your claim there. I have a couple of leaflets which should guide you through the process’. And she went off to a cabinet, and fished out a couple of dodgy looking and badly photocopied sheets of paper, which she then very professionally folded into leaflets.

‘Umm thx’ sez I, and stomped off back home again. Well it was about a 20mins walk there, and a 20 mins walk back again with maybe 10 mins in the Jobcentre itself. Not that I’m complaining. Colchester is (IMO) a remarkeable town, and every bit of it has its own hidden treasures, so I don’t feel as if I’ve lost anything in apparently wasting an hour of my time.

So an hour later, with nothing to show for my efforts, I logs on to the Universal Credit site.

‘We’ll just run you through a few questions, which should no more than 5 mins to complete, to determine whether your eligible for Universal Credit’ it said.

‘OK, hit me’ sez I

Question 1: Please type in your NI number.

Okeydokey, I’d researched this one and felt very confident.

‘XX 999999 A’, I responded.

‘That is incorrect’ it said ‘Please re-enter’

OK lets try ‘XX999999A’ I thinks

And hooray, I’m off and running

Question 2: Please type in your postcode
Again, I lucked out by having memorised my postcode
‘COx 9XX’ I types

‘That is incorrect’ it said ‘Please re-enter’

Beginning to see a pattern here, I types ‘COx9XX’ and yay!!! I’m over the second hurdle.

Question 3: Blah, blah, blah
Question 4: Blah, blah, blah
Question 5: Blah, blah, blah
Question 6: Are you over 60 years years old, or have you just completed full-time education?

Me: Y

A quick fuzzy moment ensues as the UC daemon evaluates my answers and then……..

‘You are not eligible for Universal Credit at this time, please click the link to apply for Jobseekers Allowance’.

Clicketty click.

You are now making an application for Job Seekers Allowance.
‘We’ll just run you through a few questions, which should no more than 5 mins to complete, to determine whether your eligible for Jobseekers Allowance’ it said.

Question 1: Please type in your NI number.

Beginning to see a pattern, I types ‘XX999999A’.

And hooray, I’m off and running

Question 2: Please type in your postcode

I types ‘COx9XX’ and yay!!! I’m over the second hurdle.

Question 3: Blah, blah, blah
Question 4: Blah, blah, blah
Question 5: Blah, blah, blah
Question 6: Are you over 60 years years old, or have you just completed full-time education?

Me: Y

‘You appear to be eligible for Universal Credit, please click the link to apply’.

There is no link to say to say ‘No, I’m not’, so I don’t click the link.

After a couple of minutes of inactivity, I’m taken back to the Universal Credit hoop.

Question 1: Please type in your NI number.

‘XX999999A’.

Question 2: Please type in your postcode

‘COx9XX’

Question 3: Blah, blah, blah
Question 4: Blah, blah, blah
Question 5: Blah, blah, blah
Question 6: Are you over 60 years years old, or have you just completed full-time education?

Me: Y

‘You are not eligible for Universal Credit at this time, please click the link to apply for Jobseekers Allowance’.

At this point, I begin to contemplate suicide for the first time in months, but…..

Clicketty click.

You are now making an application for Job Seekers Allowance.
‘We’ll just run you through a few questions, which should no more than 5 mins to complete, to determine whether your eligible for Jobseekers Allowance’ it said.

Question 1: Please type in your NI number.

Me: ‘XX999999A’.

Question 2: Please type in your postcode

Me: ‘COx9XX’ .

Question 3: Blah, blah, blah
Question 4: Blah, blah, blah
Question 5: Blah, blah, blah
Question 6: Are you over 60 years years old, or have you just completed full-time education?

Me: Y

‘I’m sorry, we are unable to process your application automatically, please phone
0845 999999 and one of our customer advisors will deal with your claim.

I confess at this point I’ve almost lost the will to live, but the donkey genes are very strong in this one, so I dial the number.

‘You have reached the Jobseekers Allowance claimline. All of our Customer Advisers are busy at the moment. Did you know that you can make online by visiting blah, blah, blah?’

I hang on. For 20 mins, by which time, I need to go for a pee. And so I do, taking the phone with me. There is an awkward moment when I’m having to use both hands to insert my catheter, and control the peeing, but mercifully, the loop of Vivadi’s 4 seasons, intertwined with exhortations to apply online, continue unabated.

After 40 minutes, I finally get through to a human.

‘Hello, this is Rebecca, how can I help you?’

Now, this is a dedicated line for new JSA claims only, so I hope I didn’t startle her too much by saying ‘I’d like to make a new claim for Job Seekers Allowance, please’

Rebecca: ‘I’m afraid we’re having a lot of technical issues at the moment, can I ask you to call back on Monday. I’m very sorry’

Me: ‘I’ll bet you are. I’ve been waiting 40 minutes to hear you say that’

Rebecca: ‘Well I can only apologise again. Please call back on Monday.

click. Burrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

============================================================================================

As a mainframe computer programmer of 25 years standing, I am appalled at the
shiity level of computer systems which have been bought and paid for on our behalf by fucking idiots like Iain Duncan Smith.

I’d personally be fucking ashamed of putting my name to this heap of crap.

1. On checking my NI number(Question 1), it should have been apparent that I am over 60 years old and thus not eligible for UC, so no need to continue with any further questioning.

2. Having been confirmed as ineligible for UC, I see no good reason for being returned to the UC questionnaire.

3. A 40 minute wait time to answer the the eventual phone call is inexcusable

4. If it weren’t for my donkey genes, I suspect I might have been slitting my wrists sometime earlier today. Or playing Leonard Cohen Lps (which is just as effective).

And that is the point.

The system is designed to put people off from claiming what is an inexorable right, bought and paid for my most working people’s NI contributions over their entire working career.

Well screw you Iain Duncan Smith. I have £29 quid in my bank account, and I’m not drunk enough yet, so I may be toddling up to to the Co-op before it shuts tonight for more alcohol.

How dare you treat people like this?
How dare you replace a perfectly good system, where perfectly good human Job Centre Advisors figured out what the score was, and what was needed, by several piles of shit masquerading as intelligent computer systems?

Shame on you. You are a useless tosser and you need to stand down and let someone with a compassionate heart and brain take the reins.

These are difficult times, to be sure. You really need to be concentrating on making things easier for people.

Instead, it seems that you are content on making things 10 times worse.

<Rant mode off>

Ianout

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One comment

  1. Opher · June 19, 2015

    Sounds like the beginning of the universe – complexity out of simplicity!! It’s how government works!
    Good to hear from you
    Opher

    Like

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