RE: The new back to work programme in conjunction with the Jobcentre Plus!
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I was sent home from the first induction for being late. I was late by 60 seconds then made to wait in reception for 10 minutes to be told I arrived too late and to go home, but don't worry my benefits won't be affected this time. I was easily on time for my second attempt at this induction, and that didn't start till 10 minutes after the allocated time, which they allow in case any one was late. On my return after the induction to see my personal advisor, I again was made to wait in reception, again making me late and again being told with a annoyed hint in her words, that if I am late again, I could be sanctioned and that next time just to walk straight through after signing in. How was I suppose to know that when the building is full of coded door locks? From that appointment I was given 4 more new appointments all for the same allocated morning time over the next month. Two of these appointments was to sit at a computer and do a job search for 4 hours. Something I can easily do at home, but it seems I am of an age that I can not be trusted to do so without assistance, in case I might not be able to use my own PC and injure myself! After attending the first of these new appointments, I received a letter from Boltonwise stating a change in 1 of these appointments to a later time in the afternoon. With this new time set firmly in my mind, on the day of my next appointment, I am merrily getting ready with everything prepared to attend it. But shortly before dinner time on this day, I recieved a call from a young, disgruntaled lady who again with a annoyed hint and slightly condescending tone, asked me why I had not attended the appointment set for that morning to do a job search. Being very confused, I asked her as politely as I could to hold on the line whilst I shot downstairs to find the letter stating the new time. To my own shock the mistake was on my part as I had got the day wrong of the time change. Being as it was a genuine mistake on my part and as I had every intention of going to the appointment, the woman's tone on the phone did change slightly and I mean slightly to a more polite posture. Unfortunately, this young woman had already sent the sanction before even speaking to me and as the wheels had already been turned, after speaking to her and my own advisor at Boltonwise, they told me I had to speak to the people at the job centre to try and stop it. As it is they who stop the payments. Now, 3 phone calls later and the frustration of going in circles with those at the job centre saying speak to your advisor at Boltonwise and visa versa, thankfully, to a lovely adviser at the job centre who understood perfectly what I was saying, put a big note on the system to say don't suspend payment to this person. Like I explained, who in their right mind would purposely get sanctioned and a possible suspension in money 1 week before Christmas? One week into the new year, the 3rd appointment was kept at the later time to sit down at a pc and do a job search on the internet for 4 hours. A letter arrives on my door from the kind people at jobseekers stating that since I failed to attend the Boltonwise program, I will be suspended from payment for 2 weeks. Does not sound long, middle of winter with no money to heat your house or feed yourself and payments received fortnightly. That turns 2 weeks without payment into a month! Again, I make calls asking for explanations, going in circles just to end up with my only option left to appeal the decision, and that can take a month or longer if successful, or further still to court! I personaly went to the Jobcentre to pick up the right form for the appeal and after filling it out, I personally returned it to the jobcentre for them to check and send it through to the appeals dept. But, and again its a big but, they said to me in a pretty confused state they should not be doing this, it is Boltonwise who should be sorting this out! They do not even have the proceedures anymore for appeals of this nature, it's all in Boltonwise's hands. On the day of induction the sales man at Boltonwise, who does his pitch very well, when questioned on this subject by others who have been through it before with them, stated that they do not make the decision to suspend anyone, all they do is inform the people who pay the benefits, and they don't want to purposely stop anyone's money! But in the words of the Jobcentre advisor who took my appeal form, it's a bit naughty of them to say that. Now how is all this helping me back to work exactly? Furthermore, my head is so battered by it all, I may as well be back in prison!
By a very angry and confused man! ( via email )