Unconnected and out of work: the vicious circle of having no internet

Jobseekers must spend up to 35 hours a week on online applications, or risk losing benefits. When you can’t afford a computer, this is no mean feat

In a modern-day version of the old casual labour scrum outside the local docks, Nick East scrambles for a free computer screen when the doors of Newcastle’s city centre library open.

The fourth floor computer room of the glass-fronted library is stocked with 40 terminals, plus a handful of iMacs. Even so, it’s almost always packed, with people waiting for a computer to become free for a designated two-hour slot.

“You have to get there very early or all the screens will be gone and you have to hang around,” said the 24-year-old, who has been unemployed for 18 months. “And you can’t afford a city centre coffee [while waiting], so you just walk about the streets.”

East’s need for computer time has nothing to with catching up with friends on social media, online shopping or video downloads. He must apply for 24 jobs a week – with applications taking up to an hour each – on the government’s digital jobcentre looking for work, or lose his benefits. When you don’t own a computer, this is no mean feat – as East has found out.

In an increasingly digital society, large swaths of the population – lacking computers, broadband, email addresses or even phones that function without regular cash top-ups – are discovering harsh consequences to being unconnected. About one fifth of households have no internet access, according to most figures, including those of the Government Digital Service, although the Office for National Statistics put the figure at 16%. At any one time, there are an estimated 10m pay-as-you-go phones without the credit needed to make calls or pick up voicemail messages.

“The primary reason people don’t have broadband is cost,” said Oliver Johnson, CEO of broadband analysts Point Topic. “It’s still expensive to buy all the kit you need, let alone the monthly subscription. Ironically, the cheapest rail fares and the cheapest goods are online – meaning poorer people suffer twice over.”

Meanwhile, the government is moving more and more services online. Significantly, universal credit, a benefit which will replace six means-tested allowances and tax credits, will be a digital-only service. Claimants are expected to apply online, manage any subsequent changes online, and contact between the government and the claimant will be made online.

read the rest of this article here: http://www.theguardian.com/society/2015/apr/09/unconnected-and-out-of-work-the-vicious-circle-of-having-no-internet


All this in 20 minutes at our local Jobcentre

Just got back from my local Jobcentre.

Met a man who has not been paid any benefits for 3 months. He had missed an appointment because he was attending his father’s funeral, speaks little English and has nowhere to go for help. He had come to the UK because he had a job , but it only lasted a few months and he found himself unemployed.

A few minutes later I went in to the Jobcentre, where someone was being told that he had to come back tomorrow at 2pm. He explained that he had a job interview the other side of London at that time. He was only picking up a form, could they not just give it to him? No, says the Jobcentre manager, our system is not that flexible. Outside, he said he will have to cancel his job interview or they will sanction him for not attending the Jobcentre appointment. But there is also a chance he will be sanctioned for not attending the job interview.

At the same time someone was there making an official complaint: his  Jobseekers Allowance claim has been stopped because he was doing  part time course of 5 hours a week. Even though the same Jobcentre had told him last September that this course was fine, and had given him permission to do it.
All this in 20 minutes at one local Jobcentre.



Short term employment contracts ate my benefits.

This is from http://shaftsword.blogspot.co.uk

Make no mistake sanctions are just a multi-faceted tool for propaganda and to be used against the unemployed and under-employed.
 Figures on high numbers of sanctions each month or year adds credence to the foolish idea that all the unemployed are out there trying to scam the system and that there are plenty of jobs.
  1. Sanctions are a legal way to steal our money and for the government to profit from it. If person A gets wrongfully sanctioned and loses say £290 that he was entitled to help him survive while looking for work firstly there is only a 50% chance he is going to take it further just for the first level of appeal and god knows what that percentage will be for those who go through all 4 stages of appealing meanwhile Person A’s money is sitting in the government coffers making them money and even if he is ultimately successful it will take MONTHS before he gets the cash with no compensation to help mitigate the costs of missed direct debit payments, fines, court action or anything else that may have arisen from the wrongful sanction.
Just a personal story to share after leaving university I would now and then be lucky enough to get temporary jobs from the employment bureau there while claiming JSA. That meant each week having to fill out a complicated bit of paperwork putting out in excruciating detail days and times of each role, fair enough. 
After I did a temporary job let’s say as waiting staff at a graduation it would likely take two weeks before my payment came around with the payment slip sent to me but oh JSA won’t release funds of any kind without my pay cheque so that meant I was often going without any money for up to a month which lead to missed payments on my bank account which charged £30 per OD transaction, my bank must have made £300 from me easily before I just stopped taking short term roles and it was only years later and too late according to the JSA that I learned that I could have claimed back for all that messing around.
The DWP and JSA just want you the unemployed to disappear off their books one way or another and then slap themselves on the back about how the unemployment figures are going down all the while ignoring more and more stories of horrific incidences were unemployed people crack under the pressure and commit suicide because of the circumstances and stigma of being unemployed in this country it makes me sick.
This is the second part of a blog entry here: http://shaftsword.blogspot.co.uk/2014/07/sanctioned-again.html

Had to give up job because of delays in PIP process.


This was posted on the Facebook page ‘Atos Miracles’ today

“This is utterly disgusting, I personally know one friend who worked part-time and was receiving DLA which ran out, now they are waiting (presently 5 months with no assessment date yet) to get a PIP decision; they have had to give up their job because with their disability they needed specialist transport which their DLA covered as they cannot drive due to their medication. They couldn’t afford to get to work. So they had to give it up, and with that they stopped everything else that was improving their quality of life and chances to get back into full-time employment, which the Tory party are constantly harking on about. They are so depressed and have deteriorated considerably. When they do get a PIP decision, it will take a long time if they receive it, to get back to the ‘good place’ they were in. Their DLA was eaten up purely by logistical costs that being disabled incurred, it wasn’t being splashed out on all these things the Daily Mail claim they are- foreign holidays, cars, boozy nights out. Shame on David Cameron who had a disabled son and father- he must know better than anyone how being disabled effects day-to-day living yet shows nothing but contempt for those ‘plebs’ that are unfortunate to be so.”

From Call Boys to Strippers & Grinders … Jobs Advertised at the Jobcentre!

The ramblings of a former DWP Civil Servant ...

Badger [5491]

Ball grinder [8125]

Bandyman [8111]

Batman [6231]

Beater’s assistant [8121]

Beater-up [8111]

Behinder [8117]

Belly roller [8114]

Blanket raiser [8113]

Body mounter [8132]

Boner [5431 5433]

Boring engineer [8123]

Bottom filler [5413]

Bottomer [8121 8125 5413]

Box hand [9134 9139 5421]

Bruiser [5213 also Bruiser (leather dressing)]

Bumper [8113 8122 8125]

Burster [8122]

Butt suspender [8114]

Call boy [6215]

Can dodger [8113]

Carpenter-diver [5315]

Chick sexer [9119]

Chopperman [8121]

Doper [8114, 8139]

Duffer [9139]

Flasher [5491]

Fluffer [8114]

Drifter [8122, 8123]

Eye puncher [8125]

False twister [8113]

Farmer’s wife [9111]

Fat boiler [8114]

Fish nobber [5433]

Hanger-on [8122, 9141]

Hemp cutter [8113]

Hooker [8113, 8117, 9139]

Humper [9139]

Pig dehairer [5431]

Pouncer [5419]

Puffer [8139]

Puller-off [9121, 9139]

Ring doffer [8113]

Ransacker [8133]

Ripper [8122]

Skull breaker [8117]

Slugger [8119, 8139]

Skiver [8114, 8129, 5413]

Smearer [5419]

Sniffer [8133

Sponger [5491]

Stripper and grinder [8129]

Swinger [8113]


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What happened when she recorded her jobcenter interview.

Here’s a calm, assertive lady who knows her rights trying to assert them and record a job centre interview.

The video speaks for itself. But if anyone is in this position and wants to know what their rights are , I’ve copied the Freedom of Information Request reply from the Department of  Work and Pensions, stating exactly what a claimant’s rights are in videoing their jobcenter interview. You’ll find it below the video.

FOI3032 Response 04.07.13.pdf

Recordings by claimants during
interviews, telephone calls etc 

Claimant publishes recording on the internet
Claimants may seek to record a telephone conversation or an interview with 
DWP either openly or covertly using digital recording devices such as 
cameras, microphones and mobile phones.  There are a number of reasons 
why the Department should stop this happening in open plan public 
spaces. Jobcentre Plus has particular guidance on this here. 
A key concern is that if the claimant is visiting DWP premises such as a 
Jobcentre, and is using, or intends to use, their recording equipment, in an 
open plan area they could record other claimants’ personal information. This 
is not acceptable.  
If the claimant insists on recording their interview, a private interview
room must be used. Where such a facility is not available on site and no 

other solution is possible, arrangements to use an alternative Jobcentre Plus 
office will need to be considered. 
Staff should also be aware that interviews can be recorded where it is a
“reasonable adjustment” requirement under the Equality Act 2010. If
necessary speak to your local Disability Equality Adviser who can
facilitate this.  

If a claimant indicates that they intend to make a recording of a conversation 
or interview and staff involved are uncomfortable about being recorded, the 
matter should be raised with local management. Another member of staff who 
is less concerned about being recorded can take the call or conduct the 
interview. This may take time and a future appointment may be necessary.  
A claimant may resort to threatening to record, or actually record, telephone 
calls or interviews as a last resort if they are unhappy about the way they 
have been dealt with by DWP. It may be more appropriate to resolve the 
underlying service issue in which case they may not feel the need to record 
their dealings with DWP. 

This guidance is currently under review and guidance will be published here in
due course. If you have any queries, please contact Information Management,
Devolution and Governance.
For guidance about the Department’s own routine recording of telephone calls
with claimants please click here.

You can find more information on this Freedom of informat

More #JSA stories from jobcentres: “It’s impossible. You’re trapped.”

This article is by Kate Belgrave on http://www.katebelgrave.com

In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been attending leafleting sessions outside jobcentres with the Kilburn Unemployed Workers’ Group and talking to people on JSA about their experiences as they sign on.

We’ve been talking to people about sanctions, about being spoken down to by staff and having to walk on eggshells or risk being sanctioned, about relying on the jobcentre for JSA payments between short-term, low-paid jobs and about pointless work programme courses. I’ve posted some transcripts from today’s discussions below.

This morning, we were outside the Neasden jobcentre. It was freezing cold and there was a nasty, biting wind and a number of people we spoke to looked cold and shaky because they were not dressed warmly enough for the weather. I know we hear a great deal about life on JSA being a rort and people on benefits enjoying TV and cigarettes and long days lying around in the sun and all the rest of it, but it never looks that great when I see it. People talk about having to go weeks without money and being forced to grovel and fawn to staff to avoid being sanctioned, and about the terror of putting the card into the cash machine and finding that no money comes out because you’ve been sanctioned after all. And in this rubbish weather, they look cold.

This is the punishment you get these days for the crime of being unemployed and not rich. You are utterly powerless. You’re on the receiving end of everything. You have to put up with everyone’s crap. Of course – things are very different if you’re rich and connected. Life generally is very different if you’re rich and connected. Very different. If you’re Chris Huhne, for example, you get your media-class buddies to give you a column at the Guardian when you leave prison. If you’re Maria Miller, you help yourself to £90k from the taxpayer and claim that little earner was totally above board. If you’re Nadhim Zahawi, you charge the taxpayer to heat your horses’ stables. These people genuinely believe that it’s the rest of us who are out of line. That’s the part that really gets me.

Most of the people we spoke to this morning were forced to collect JSA between low-paid and insecure jobs, or to subsidise low-paid and insecure jobs – something that ought to concern everyone who relies on a wage to pay the bills. One of the women, Noreen, talked about finding work on “lucky days.” She meant that she found work by herself on days when her luck was in and she managed to talk to the right people, not because there was any system in place to help her. Pity she doesn’t have as many lucky days as Chris Huhne.


I’ve been speaking to people for a couple of weeks now and have yet to find anyone who has found work through their jobcentre. Everyone talks about finding work themselves. These jobcentres are an exercise in degradation and futility. People don’t go to their jobcentre because they believe that someone will help them find a job. They go there to present meaningless “evidence” of a fortnight’s jobsearch activity and to sit very still and silently during interviews with jobcentre staff in the hope that they’ll avoid a sanction. “They’re about stressing people out and raising your blood pressure and they are there to give you a heart attack,” Noreen told us this morning. Can’t help thinking that is the point of the exercise as far as Iain Duncan Smith is concerned.

Anyway – here are a couple of people who sign on at Neasden jobcentre. I’m changing the names for these, because I don’t want jobcentres getting fancy ideas about sanctioning people who dare to share their views in public. I won’t respond well if I hear that is happening. People who are on JSA have every right to share their views and I’ll keep posting their views because of that.

Read the rest of this article by Kate Belgrave here: http://www.katebelgrave.com/2014/02/more-jsa-stories-from-jobcentres-its-impossible-youre-trapped/