Thursday, 10 February 2011

Contact - and quiet

I had a comment yesterday from someone claiming to be a journalist and wanting to make contact with me. That person can send me a comment (obviously not for publication) with his or her email address and I will get in touch.

There's nothing much to report at the moment. Emma Harrison hasn't given an interview for over a week. Perhaps her PR people have advised a period of quiet, or perhaps she's on holiday. There was, however, a piece in the Guardian last week by Rhian Beynon, who is head of policy and campaigns at Family Action. This is the charity, you remember, which is not best pleased at Emma's latest project, the Family Champions, or Working Families Everywhere, because they've been doing this work without fanfare for years. Beynon is particularly concerned in the article with the mental health strategy, or lack of it, to support children. And she is very sceptical about Harrison's capacity in this area.


  1. Regarding Emmas absence I would like to think that no news is good news!!!

    Give me strength.

    I am just back from my second interview Stage 5 at The Jobcentre with that same girl. Due to working on my CV and Portfolio and intense focus on one particular job vacancy, I had forgotten the mandatory group session yesterday, Thursday afternoon, 2pm, outlining what is required of claimants ..... therefore a possible imminent deduction of benefit.

    She told me initially that it would take five minutes for Glasgow to make a decision. Twenty minutes later she was still typing then told me that I would have to wait until Monday for it and that I would have to come in again to see her next Thursday at 2pm to rearrange another Group Session .....

    When I got home I realised that she did not show me a copy of what she has sent to Glasgow ..... I thought perhaps best to contact Glasgow but finding a number for them is impossible. You have to go through many 0845 numbers it seems and I not on BT but rather a package .....

  2. Hi historian. i am currently unemployed the period of my unemployment is just under a year now. my question is this, ive told my advisor im looking for a permanent job, but the advisor insists i must look for part time work or any job, can my advisor make me do this by law? i have a qualification i have work experience of my normal job as a gardner, i am looking for other types of jobs but do not want to work part time. Thanks

  3. I sympathise. Do you qualify for tax credits? If you do, it makes it easier to work part-time. But if it would leave you unable to claim any benefit (over 16 hours per week) and out of pocket you would be entitled to turn it down. However, I would advise you to look for any job, and then decide whether you could take it if offered. Lots of work now is on temporary contract, and that's certainly better than nothing. It's not just about what can be legally required from you, but of at least being willing to look.

  4. Just to say that I received a letter from Glasgow (DSS) today and they have penalised me for missing that Group Session. No JSA from the end of February ..... Reminder as to why I forgot I was working on my CV and Portfolio for a specific job .....

    Four months to go before State Pension, on my own and I am also diabetiic ..... A crowd of .....

  5. I found this article online which answers both anonymous above and my situations.

  6. Simone, there is an up-coming march to DEFEND jobcentre employees PENSIONS and PAY. I expect you to be out in SUPPORT of the "Decision Makers". Let us stand shoulder to with our Brothers & Sisters in the Job Centre :-)

  7. Stage 5

    Well I went this afternoon to the rescheduled Stage 5 Two Year Group Session held at The Job Centre. The briefing was given by The Manager and a guy who handles vacancies. We were reminded about what was expected of us ..... We have to sign on weeklly now, and draw up and sign another Jobseeker Allowance Agreement. Appointment times are random now.

    At the end we were given a list of general vacancies plus another custom selected list by your/my Advisor. You have to apply to these or else ..... I was given fourteen. I already had well over twenty applications for the week logged and printed out. Also some of their jobs I was not qualified for ..... However I have applied to them ..... So another late trip to the library to print the updated Jobsearch Log, just in case ..... Tomorrow I sign on.

    We also were given a draft three stage Action Plan to complete ..... Whereas the emphasis prior to Stage 5 was to find sustainable work, this seems to have fallen by the wayside. They are asking you to consider anything again.

    I passed a comment on the lack of upgrading of skills available. The reply was get any job and pay for it yourself.

    Just to end on an ironic note. A guy who has had the same a4e Advisor (who also would to him about her flat moving problems ..... ) as me asked if The Job Centre was recruiting. Well no was the answer ..... I suggested a4e might be .....

  8. Central London Stage 5 Continued

    I had to renew my Jobseekers Allowance Agreement today. This meant changing job goals ..... So Administration and Customer Services have been added to Web/Graphic Design. Apple Mac Artworker which was one of my original goals has been axed as they do not get vacancies for that despite there being quite a lot advertised outside The Job Centre.

    You have to meet at least ten work related activities with at least three actual job applications. They can all be in your prime goal. If you cannot the second and third goals will make up these missing activities/applications. Similarly The Job Centre will look for vacancies on their website in your main area, then if they cannot find anything move down the list .....

    My Advisor said I would have to attend any Provider course/provision ..... Work Clubs are coming out in April and will be mandatory. Two hours weekly ..... However it has already started and if I go now and I do not like it I can bow out she thinks .....

    I mentioned the fact I thought it immoral to go after permanent employment and then leave in four months time as I reach state pension age and that temporary work is all that I should be considering. She took my point but still I have to go after permanent work.

  9. at last, i have found a site that is up to date,
    hopefully someone can answer my questions, or just learn from the post...

    my story.....

    I am on a 12 month FND programme. I have 7 weeks left to go before the 12 months are up. In 2 weeks time, I have an appointment with my latest ‘advisor’. He / She will be the 5th new advisor I will of seen, as when someone new starts as an advisor, they have a sort out, and a change around of clients. My last change was about 3 months ago.

    During the last 11 months, I have not missed an appointment, and have not taken any time off sick or for holiday. I have had a ‘meeting’ every 2 weeks with my advisor, where I show them what jobs I have applied for, which they are happy with.

    I have yet to start my mandatory 4 weeks work boost programme, so in a week, my training provider has to arrange for the placement officer to find me a suitable placement, arrange interviews, and for me to start….I doubt this will happen.

    n.b. I did see the placement officer once, a couple of weeks after I started.

    So! Question 1

    I am aware I can request an extension of up to 6 months to the ‘training’ programme, if I want to ( I don’t) as my providers have failed to find me a 4 week work boost, can they force me to extend my ‘training’ programme.

    Question 2

    Has the programme changed, as without any 4 week work boost, my providers are in breach of their contractual obligations, with the DWP. When this happens, can the DWP force me to take the whole programme again?

  10. What may have happened is that with Flexible New Deal due to end your provider hasn't pushed too hard for your work placement, and now the contracts have been extended they're in the position of failing altogether. You can't be forced to retake FND but you could be put onto the new Work Programme. When you sign off FND make sure that you don't sign anything that says you've been on a placement.

  11. thanks for the quick reply. i am/was going to play it dumb, right up to the dead line (easter), as they should know their job, and it is not up to me to tell them theirs. - i am aware of the fraud A4E "allegedly" commit as reguard to their operations. in my area, out of 10,130 clients, they have placed 620 (6.1%) - in something called "short job they are not up to much

  12. Been there, worn the t shirt .....

    Yes I was surprised that the extra six months on FND was not offered to me when I finished it in January.

    If I were you Anonymous, I would continue to Easter, if possible. The next stage, 5, which follows FND is ruthless ..... greater accountability, take any job, sign on weekly and attend all inteervies/course/group sessions ten minutes early, job clubs ..... If you fail once the penalty is severe, two weeks suspension of benefit and National Insurance contributions. Second offence for weeks, third offence 26 weeks ..... within a one year period.

    The impending Work Programme will place you with a Provider for five whole years .....

    Good Luck

  13. Sorry A, I should have said continue all the way as far as the Providers extended contract with the DWP allows.

  14. i had previously read up on that last night - with the number of longer term unemployed set to reach over 2, if not 3 million, the new scheme cannot possibily work, unless they start hiring football stadiums to house all the unemployed.

    personally, i want training, but as i have a HNC, i was refused a ECDL course by pertemps, as thet said it was a level 2 qualification, and i had a level 6 (from 1994, hence the need for trainig, which i have not been able to get.

  15. Yes I want updating of skills to be more able to compete with younger candidates but as I have already said above, neither FND nor Stage 5 are prepared to help you do so. Stage 5 say get any job and pay for the training your self .....

    I have just found this link which is the Welfare Bill going through parliament currently . I hope there will be amendments .....

  16. Sorry about "anonymous"... couldn't work out the posting thing. Andrew.

    Just had a query about A4E that I wondered if anyone could answer.

    I am at present on an NVQ course two days a week, that will last until October, but A4E intend to send me on a work boost which will then prevent me continuing my course. Can they do this?

    My advisor said that the work boost was for an available job, but when I contacted the company directly (which A4E apparently didn't want me to do) they said there were no jobs available. I have an email from their contracts manager stating this.

    I also wanted to contact the company to see if I could carry out the work boost for three days a week, enabling me to continue with my NVQ, but A4E will not let me do this. I would be willing to carry on the work boost for longer than four weeks to make up the extra days.

    A4E also seem disinclined to give me anything in writing about this work boost, with all their contact being either verbal or by telephone. This has made me suspicious as they have undoubtedly lied to me previously. My requests for a letter or email havebeen ignored.

    I do not wish to abandon what may be my last chance of qualifications to work as a skivvy for no recompense for a month, but if I get sanctioned for non-compliancethe result will be the same, as I will have no money.

    Where do I stand on this?


  17. Andrew, this is a wretched situation. You have confirmation from the company that the "work boost" will not lead to a job, which should be enough to persuade the Jobcentre that your NVQ is more important. But A4e is required to put you on a placement.
    Is there any possibility of you arranging a placement for yourself that allows you to continue your course?
    I would contact your MP immediately and put him or her in the picture.

  18. Thanks for the prompt response. The Lincoln Jobcentre have actually been pretty supportive of my efforts to get a qualification, and my ongoing voluntary work, but A4E have consistently seen these things as a barrier to employment (or as a barrier to them earning money - I am unsure which). There is apparently no communication between the DWP and A4E.

    I have tried to arrange my own work placement, and recently worked voluntarily as a project officer in charge of a week long project for BTCV, which I had hopoed to use, but A4E would have none of it. When I mentioned the idea of a placement to the very company A4E were apparently arranging a work boost with they were not interested, which also surprised me.

    Thanks for the advice about contacting my MP... I will definitely do that today.


  19. ive been told i have to go on a work boost at a company,asked if i been taken on afterwards,was told there are not taking on,surely this is just a company after free workers.and i refuse to work for free for a month in any case

  20. Refuse and you will lose your benefits. The compulsory work placement was never meant to guarantee you a job, just give you experience and something to put on your CV. I do understand how you feel, but you're not going to get any sympathy from folk out there.

  21. Grapevine news, A4e ha just informed staff at 3 regional offices, Tamworth,London and Weston Super-mare, that the offices will be closing in 4 weeks and ALL staff will be given redundancy.

  22. Thanks for the reads on this blog.

    A4E were at first very willing to let me arrange (and advised me to arrange) my own four-week placement(s) - I'm doing more than one, which I understand is allowed - and then tried quite hard to stonewall me. Every advisor I've seen seems to tell me something different.

    It's organised now though. Thank God.

    JobCentre (who were surprisingly helpful) tell me I might have to do a second MWRA. Is this part of new Govt plans? When does this come in?


  23. I don't think you have done MWA, since it hasn't started yet. You've done a placement on FND. Depending on how long you've been out of work you could be put on MWA.

  24. As far as I'm aware I'm now on MWRA. They've switched me to Employment Allowance.

  25. Ah, sorry for the confusion. MWRA is part of FND, and the rules say at least 4 continuous weeks. See I can't see anything that says you can be obliged to do another period, but you might want to.


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