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      09.05.2002 01:15
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      Lets be honest here. Solicitors, accountants, government bodies and all things related. How much does the average Joe public know about these industries. How confident are you in your knowledge that what they tell you is correct, that they are acting in your best interests, and that they are skilled/experienced enough to give you the advice you need? My experience in particular revoles around applying for the JobSeekers allowance. As of the beginning of April 2002 I was unexpectedly made redundant. Not that unusual I know, many people are in the same boat. However, my visit to the local employment centre resulted in an initial decision, which could, unchecked, have had dire consequences. So much so I feel compelled to warn others to be careful! My reason for visiting was two fold. Firstly to register for whatever benefits I was entitled to, having worked solidly for the last 13 years in the IT industry, and having watched a considerable amount of my salary being taken away each month to fund exactly what I was now needing. Secondly, I have a number of redundancy policies in place on personal loads, credit cards etc that require me to be registered with the job centre before I can make a claim. A simple process you may assume. As had I. I stood in line for 30 minutes. And was seen and processed by a non-informative advisor within 2 minutes. During this time she asked whatever questions she deemed necessary, and made the statement (with no reasoning as to why), that I should be claiming CONTRIBUTIONS based jobseekers allowance, as opposed to INCOME based. Now for starters, I did not even know both types existed, never mind what the differences between them were. The result however or HER decision was that I could not make claims for help with my Council tax, that I could not claim and help for my 2 children (both under the age of 2) and essentially I would qualify (subject to th
      eir processing) for approximately £40-50 per week. I was gutted. Now whilst I did not expect to receive hundreds of pounds per week, I could not understand why I was prevented from making other claims (for my children, council tax etc). I had no reason to doubt her decision, it was made with an air of authority and therefore I went on my way. It was only after discussions with friends and family that major doubt began to rein. Others believed I should be able to claim more, and so, after a week?s duration, I recontacted the employment centre and spoke to a different advisor. Low and behold, I had been informed incorrectly! I should in fact have been claiming the mysterious INCOME based jobseekers, and yes, I did qualify for other related benefits as a result. I was shocked, and then outraged that I had summarily been given the wrong information. I have since registered a complaint, although I do not expect much comeback. And interestingly, whilst my new claim was being processed, I received a letter regarding my original claim stating that I was not qualified to receive any benefits. If I had not taken the step of questioning the advice given, I would have been sitting here today with no income whatsoever. And more to the point, my redundancy policies would not be processed! Redundancy is difficult enough as it is, without adding the stress and strain of wondering if the advice you are being given is accurate, and whether or not the advisor is even bothered if they inform you incorrectly. One final point for those interested parties who may also have to claim against redundancy policies. It would seem that there are 2 possible start dates that may be considered for your claim. The first is the date you register with the job centre (in my case the day after I was made unemployed i.e. 5/4/2002). The second is the date at which you receive your first jobseekers allowance. And
      this date can of course be affected by processing times, and more importantly, it can be delayed if you have received any monies paid in lieu of notice. In my case this means my first allowance date is 19/5/2002. A difference of 6 weeks! Check with your insurance company - you may be pleasantly surprised. For all those made redundant - good luck on the job front, but make sure you get what is rightfully yours. Do not assume you are being informed correctly!

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