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Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Signing on

I was meant to go to the Fees Office, sorry I meant Sign on today at 11:40am. Feeling unwell I telephoned the Job Centre I was due to attend via a tortuous series of Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) 0845 numbers over an hour before my appointment. These numbers are NOT free and if called from a non-BT line can end up costing a great deal of money.

I explained I was feeling 'under the weather' and asked it was possible to sign later in the day. If not I was certainly prepared to keep the appointment and had left enough time to get to their office.

I was told that this was 'not a problem' and to attend at 4:00pm.

Still not feeling 100% I left the house at 3:00pm leaving a hour for the walk into the city centre. I arrived at 3:45 and waited to be called to Desk G.

At around 4:00pm a sign was sellotaped to Desk G by someone I can only describe as a 12 year old who looked like he had just wandered of a beach. I enquired as to whether there was a queueing system or if it was first-come-first-served.

He took my signing card and fortunately I was the first person seen.

He then produced a letter warning me that if this happened again an adjudicator would have to decide if I was still eligible for benefit. I explained that I had telephoned earlier to ask if my appointment could be delayed (as I stated above I was prepared to attend at the original time - but I may well have soiled their telly-tubby styled furniture).

He then told me 'the system' had no trace of my earlier phone calls.

Counting (quietly) to ten, I replied that my telephone provider issued me with itemised bills. His supervisor/elder sister/mother then intervened and my claim for the next week was processed as normal.

Having been involved with many blue chip companies over the years I despair at how, even when you try and do the right think you still get treated like cattle. Who is the mysterious adjudicator they keep threatening people with? Are they related to the Banker in 'Deal or No Deal' (a programme I saw once by accident)?

With more and more people losing their jobs isn't about time JobCentre Plus began to act more professionally?


  1. A little known fact is that the Government makes money from the 0845 numbers they use for various departments.
    Also the computer systems the Govt use in job centres do not update instantly. Hence a phone conversation with 'A' may not turn up on 'B's system until the next day.
    Of course the whole system needs to be updated but this Government does not have a good track record with IT or anything else come to that.

  2. Tell me about it Brewblogger - why do you think I was signing on today. For many years I was a consultant on some major Government IT projects which all worked and, came in on or under budget. Then PFI and PPI etc came in and the likes of Anderson, PWC and EDS took over and everything went pear shaped.

    It used to be quite simple to do IT in Governmet departments if you knew how - You just got on with it knowing your reputation was on the line if you failed - not that we ever did. These days it is so different.

  3. The system has no understanding of temporary illness nor of chronic but variable conditions.If you are really ill you are on DLA if not you must be 100% fit and malingering.
    Hope you have a better day tomorrow.