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Work & Unemployment
Job Centre Plus
Member Name: sparksteroid
Job Centre Plus
Advantages: Searchable database of vacancies, some courses
Disadvantages: Staff who are unknowledgable, customer service
Jobcentre Plus is a government division that works alongside DWP. They handle benefit claims and dealing with the general public, aswell as helping people back into work. In addition to unemployment benefits they also deal with claims for housing benefit and council tax.
If you're looking for work then you can attend your local Jocentre and search their database for vacancies. In some cases, you can either choose to apply for the job at the Jobcentre although in my experience I've always found it best to apply independently. When an employer finds out your applying via the Jobcentre they tend to get the impression that you may be a 'dole bum' and are just trying to satisfy the criteria for your claim to continue.
When I first signed on many years ago Jobcentre Plus was a completely different place. It had a bad reputation and whenever attending I would witness some kind of argument or fight between Jobcentre staff and people enquiring into their claims. Sometimes this would result in violence and having dealt with the staff back in those days, I can understand why. They were not very helpful and didn't know much about how the system works. In fact, claimants themselves probably know more.
We, as a family with two children, had one major bad experience with the Jobcentre back in 2001. They underpaid us by approximately £1000 and left us without any income at all for several months. It was an extremely difficult time but with the help from family and friends we managed to scrape through it. We went to a solicitor and attempted to take Jobcentre to court. As it turns out, the Jobcentre had made so many mistakes and such a mess of our claim that it was impossible for anyone to understand it and was therefore thrown out of court. We didn't get a penny.
Several years later, although my circumstances have changed significantly, I have experienced being on New Deal and going on a music industry training course via Jobcentre Plus. Thankfully, these days the security is a lot better, the atmosphere and staff are a lot friendlier and there is a lot less trouble than there used to be. However, the knowledgability of some of the staff is still sometimes questionable. For example, when previously claiming JSA (JobSeeker's Allowance) I contact them to tell them I was moving in with my partner. They told I didn't need to do anything and should just move in and keep claiming (which would be benefit fraud). Eventually I spoke to a different person who added me to my partner's claim.
The one thing I do find ridiculous though is the A4E course I was once sent on. I was made to sit in a classroom Monday to Thursday 9am until 4pm and from 9am until 12pm on Friday's. I enquired to the staff about any help available but they told me they couldn't offer any help because I was over 24. Yet the course was compulsory! We were basically made to do a crossword in Italian (which I can't speak) on one day and made to search fro vacancies on the internet on other days. It was a complete waste of time.
If you're just looking for work then Jobcentre Plus can be a useful resource, though the only help the the staff will be is to search the database and contact the employer on your behalf. As already stated, you're better off doing this independently anyway and personally I have had a lot more success with recruitment agencies.
Summary: A necessary government organization that could be improved a lot
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