Newest Review: ... who just appeared to have given up. You could just sense the atmosphere. It was so sad to see. After an hour or so later (them not me) I w... more
Dole me out some money
Member Name: freediveheaven
Advantages: Useful resource at times
Disadvantages: One size fits all approach
Jobcentre plus as it is now known is where you have to go to register for unemployment benefit now called Job Seekers Allowance and the purpose of combining the place where you sign on to claim your benefits with a job centre advertising vacancies makes perfect sense as itís primary aim is to get people back to work as quick as possible therefore in assessing whether it carries out the role well then it needs to be assessed on how efficiently it handles itís part of the claim process combined with the facilities it provides to help get people back into work.
The important thing to remember is that you must phone the job centre on the first day that you become unemployed. They will no begin processing a claim prior to that date even if you know you will be out of work and they tend not to back date a claim if you delay for a couple of days. The initial contacts are usually handled on the phone through a call centre and after an initial call you will normally be given a time frame some day in the future when you will be called for a telephone interview which can last up to an hour and will take most of the details required to process your claim.
The majority of people who sign on whilst out of work will get Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) of which there are two types, contribution based and means tested. The first is available to anyone who has made National Insurance contributions and can be claimed for six months, once the six months is up you move across to means tested JSA where any savings are taken into account and for me meant that I could no longer claim however you can continue to sign on to receive NI credits to protect your state pension.
Once your claim has been processed your next appointment will be at the job centre where you will begin the process of signing on. I soon realised that there was no need to wear my Paul Smith suit to this interview as the dress code is decidedly informal and I had also observed that after the interview the custom is to stand outside and smoke a woodbine while quaffing a can of Tenants Extra, my own attempt at raising the tone with a can of Stella was definitely a social gaff.
Every two weeks you are required to attend the job centre to confirm that you are available to work and that you are actively looking for employment. This appointment is at a regular time each fortnight and in all takes about ten minutes and once you have signed your benefit is credited to your account about three or four working days later. At present JSA is about £56 per week and is paid fortnightly.
Personally I found the whole process fairly easy to navigate and there were not any problems with my claim however some of my other work colleagues who became unemployed at the same time were not so lucky. A couple of tips to help the process run smoothly are as follows;
ē Do some research before hand and get a good idea of what you can claim as although some advisors may discuss with you other benefits that you may be able to claim not all of them will do that, in my case I did not realise that I was exempt from prescription and dental charges whilst claiming JSA, I had to ask.
ē Keep a record of who you have spoken to in case you need to go back to them.
ē You will be sent a list of things to have to hand at the time of your phone interview and it is important to get this information together before hand otherwise your claim can be delayed.
ē Prepare any questions that you have and do not be afraid to ask, all the people I spoke to were very pleasant and only too happy to ask, if you are polite to them then they are only too happy to reciprocate.
It is fair to say that there is a combination of the carrot and stick approach to getting people back to work. The stick is in the form of the threat to remove benefits if people are not seen to be actively looking for employment and the carrot is in the form of the support and assistance provided by the jobcentre and the various courses and programmes onto which it can refer people.
Everyone who claims will have a job seekers agreement which is drawn up between the applicant and a member of staff at the job centre. This details the type of employment you are looking for and the activities that you agree to undertake to seek work such as carrying out an effective job search using the papers and internet as well as sending out prospecting letters and contacting recruitment agencies. Within this agreement you should keep an activity of everything you do in your search for work including applications made and any replies that you get as when you sign on every two weeks this diary or work log can be asked for. In all the time I have been signing on though I have only been asked to produce this twice and indeed I often see people turning up with nothing on them and not being challenged at all.
After three months you will be called in for an interview to review the job seekers agreement and also to show what activity you have been doing, at this interview and subsequent reviews at six months you will be expected to widen your job search with regard to the types of roles you are looking at.
All of these processes appeared to be more stick rather than carrot to me however there is some assistance to be had. Gone are the days when the job centre was full of shelves with small cards on them inviting you to drive a truck or flip burgers for minimum wage now all of these same jobs can be accessed via touch screen terminals which allow you to carry out a much more refined search which from personal experience is still limited to some poorly defined options which produce rather strange results but it does provide access to a much wider data base of jobs across a wider area.
Of more use is the jobcentre plus website which not only allows you to carry out a much better job search which uses a step by step approach which helps filter out all the dross but it also contains a lot of helpful information on how to carry out a job search as well as learning opportunities for people who need to brush up on their IT skills or basic numeracy skills through the courses available at Learn Direct. They have produced a number of useful guides and there are links from the site to all of the different branches of the Benefits Agency as well as specific help for certain sections of the community like lone parents or the disabled.
After six months you are likely to get a referral to what used be known as a Job Club, nowadays these tend to e run by charities who sepcialise in running specific programmes to help people, these include an assessment of basic skills to ensure that these are up to standard for the employment market to assistance with CV production and letter writing. For me this has limited appeal but I can see the benefit it provides to others it is just a shame that it does not kick in until after six months because for some the feelings that they will ever get a job again are at a low level and you can see the defeat in some peoples eyes making the role of the staff that much harder.
If I have a criticism it would be that certainly there is a culture of one size fits all and you will be put on a programme after six months whether it is appropriate or not. For me this is an issue on two counts, firstly if someone does not need to be on the course then they could be denying or delaying the start of a place for someone who does and secondly it is a waste of tax payersí money. On my particular programme there are two of us who have either work or as in my case a course starting in a matter of weeks yet we still have to attend the programme, for me that is fine I just get on with my course preparations but for the other attendee it is pointless.
Overall for me the jobcentre has been of limited use but then Iím not a typical case, something teachers, parents, doctors and employers have always maintained, it has processed my claim pretty well and I could see the scenario where it would be useful for some people who are seeking work.
I do feel sorry for the staff, they take a lot of abuse from some of the pond life who come in and expect to be seen straight away even if they are 30 minutes late for their appointment and you do see the occasional person out of their head on drugs or alcohol but generally Iím usually seen within ten minutes of my appointment time and I often get a surprised look when I wish them a happy weekend, somehow I get the impression that they are counting down every minute until it starts.
Thanks for reading and rating my review especially those having a sneaky read while at work as Iím on the way out now to catch some sun.
Summary: Not the nicest of places and you have to feel sorry for the employees.
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