Irrational Encounters With The Modern World

Putting The “Broo” in “Brutal Waste Of Time.”

I’m back to being a sign-writer for the broo. It can’t last, because if I’m not working I will lose my flat, and sooner rather than later.

I don’t particularly like being unemployed at the best of times, and especially not now that – due to cuts in Housing Benefit – I face being made homeless as the shortfall in rent cannot be made up from the pittance that is JSA.

I’m not trying to get something for nothing, to be abundantly clear.  These benefits are there for anyone who is entitled, to help them while they get back on their feet. When I’m working, I pay into the system like everyone else. I just want the record to show that this is what they are doing – making people homeless to “save” a few quid, and then forking out hundreds or thousands more to have them rehoused in hostels and the like.

As I have said before, my rent is set so high because that is (previously) the maximum that the council would pay. The private landlords set their rent accordingly, to claim as much as they could. Now that amount has been lowered, it is the tenants who are liable for the difference – regardless of circumstance.

These governmental cuts are not working. They are stigmatising hard-working people who suffer from an absence of employment opportunities, amplify social and housing issues, and cost far more money than they save.

broo2

ABOVE: This Jobcentre is so lacking in jobs to advertise, it has been permanently closed and all fixtures and fittings removed. Argyle Street, Glasgow, December 2012.

As my temporary employment has just come to an end, earlier than I hoped, I find myself having to contact the DWP to submit a new claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance.

Previous experience has made me aware that it involves a 45-minute phonecall, and so it was not possible to call up at the end of last week – in advance of my contract ending – as my half hour lunch break wouldn’t permit enough time. Instead, I waited until today, Monday, to call them.

I reached an automated system that told me I should apply online, and that online applications are given priority over telephone applications. Had I known that, I would have submitted my claim at the weekend. Annoyed, I hung up and loaded their page.

It advised I would need 30-60 minutes to complete it, and so I made my lunch before starting, figuring it might time out halfway through if I paused for any reason. When I came to start, I got an error message telling me it had already timed out – prior to me typing a single thing – and to close my browser and start again. This was a pain in the arse, not least because I had half a dozen other tabs open.

I tried opening a separate window, but it became clear I would indeed need to close everything to begin again. On the second attempt, I got as far as a request for some details that I figured I could find through my online banking. Opening a second tab crashed my browser so thoroughly and so spectacularly that a full system restart was required.

Having now wasted a full hour, I called them up.

“Please state your postcode,” the automated cunt asked me. It took four goes before she gave in and made me listen to – I can never remember if it is Greensleeves or Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, but either way I am fucking sick of hearing it. Finally, my call was connected to a live human.

“I tried to do this online, and it has thoroughly crashed my computer” I told him.

He laughed, and said he would try to help me.

I asked him why he was laughing, and very angry Jordan elicited an apology. I relented, as angry as I was, since I did need his help and a terminated call would see me back at square one. It was already every bit as painful an experience as I had expected.

He took a note of where I was at the point the site crashed, and said he is not unfamiliar with this complaint. So, there you go – there is an awareness that the online system, which “will be given priority,” crashes fully before completion of the form.

I figured, again from experience, that my details would be taken and the form sent to me to verify and sign. Then I would get an appointment at the local Jobcentre to go and discuss the work I am looking for. At this point, I will consider any work that pays. This process usually takes a few days, and as calls were dealt with less quickly, I anticipated an interview date later in the week.

“We have an appointment in five minutes,” he said, and half-joked “How fast can you get there?”

As it happens, the local office is round the corner from me. Taking into account a roundabout and the supermarket carpark, it is about 7 minutes’ walk.

“I can book you in for half-three,” he offered, proceeding to race through the scripted terms and conditions so that I would have time to grab the necessary ID and paperwork before heading out the door.

And that’s what happened. The lower-priority phone application saw me allotted a slot scheduled for twenty minutes after the call ended.

The high-priority website wasted an hour of my time and gubbed my laptop.

This is indicative of a system so inherently broken it is very difficult to imagine how it may ever be fixed. It is, however, hard to fathom that further cutbacks and not investment is the answer.

In the meantime, if you know of any full-time work going in the Glasgow area, I will be very happy to hear from you.

Finally, if you get the chance to punch Cameron, Clegg, or Osborne in the face, please do so. Unrelentingly.

As for Iain Duncan-Smith – he has put the “cunt” in this country. I hope they are all held accountable when the rioting inevitably starts.

broo

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2 responses

  1. Kevin

    JCP are a complete and utter joke, it’d be funny if it wasn’t such a sad situation with people deserving of help and support being treated as if they were sub-human scum.

    One job centre near to me has in the window a survey that states in large letters that at JCP they are commited to seeking regular feedback from customers. It then has some graphs showing that JCP compare very favourably to a number of organisations for politeness etc The date of this ‘regular’ feedback? 2005.

    So once ever 9 years or so.

    Oh and the online systems they use are indeed awful – I can only imagine what it would be like if Universal Credit is ever fully excreted from the bowels of IDS.

    January 24, 2014 at 11:27 am

  2. Kaz

    It’s Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Spring to be exact. It makes me postpone any phone call with these people for as long as possible whilst I work myself to having to listen to it. Again. Repeatedly. But only the first bit of it.

    January 24, 2014 at 9:14 pm

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