Cui bono?

c: | f: /

I pity anyone who has to visit the Benefits office; scammer or legit, there’s something unsettling about talking with people who don’t listen and won’t comprehend.

The UK benefits system is a shambles. You turn up, get bullied by someone barely above minimum wage and sent on your way.

Take my wife, for example. Voluntarily between jobs before her next contract starts in November she’s had to brave The Scum Office for two months. Firstly she had to fill out various forms to get her pittance then go to an interview, which couldn’t take place on the same day as the day you sign the forms. Obviously. The interviewer couldn’t fathom why she was there since she had a job to go to. Made a note on his computer of that fact. Also made a note that she was waiting for a CRB to come through before she would be allowed to work in the county (their rules).

In the interim between visits to the dole office, my wife keeps a list of places she’s applied to work on the back of an envelope. That satisfies the government lackeys even though all of the employers say they can’t help until she has a CRB, which takes longer to come through than the time she has before starting work again.

And so to today. Another person who doesn’t listen. The conversation with the confrontational woman — my wife’s third different contact in three visits, despite their promise of having a personal mentor — went a little like this:

  • Drone: Do you have evidence of applying for jobs?
  • Wife: Yes (sliding envelope over)
  • Drone: Good. Any of them offer anything yet?
  • Wife: No. I’m waiting for my CRB.
  • Drone: Oh (tap tap tap) it doesn’t say that here.
  • Wife: It was noted last time.
  • Drone: It doesn’t say that on your record.
  • Wife: Good.
  • Drone: They take a while to come through don’t they?
  • Wife: Yes. Longer than the time before my next job starts.
  • Drone: When’s that?
  • Wife: 1st November. It was noted last time.
  • Drone: (tap tap tap). No it wasn’t.
  • Wife: (sigh) OK. Would you make a note now?
  • Drone: I’ll make a note of it now (tap tap tap, click click)
  • Wife: What should I do now?
  • Drone: You need to attend a workshop.
  • Wife: What for?
  • Drone: It explains how to get the most from us and how to apply for a job.
  • Wife: I have a job. It starts on November 1st.
  • Drone: You still need to attend the course or we’ll stop your benefits.
  • Wife: Fine. When is the course?
  • Drone: 1st November.
  • Wife: I’ll be working that day. I won’t be able to go.
  • Drone: Then you’ll need to tell us.
  • Wife: I’m telling you now.
  • Drone: You’ll need to write to us or phone to tell us.
  • Wife: Why? I can’t go. I’ll be working.
  • Drone: What if your job doesn’t work out, dear?
  • Wife: It’s a permanent position. I’ve signed the contract.
  • Drone: (print. staple) Here’s the course details.
  • Wife: I can’t go. I’ll be working on 1st November.
  • Drone: You need to tell us. If you don’t go, we’ll stop your benefits.
  • Wife: You’ll stop my benefits? From 1st November?
  • Drone: Yes, if you don’t go on this course or give us a valid reason for not attending.
  • Wife: That’s fine. Can I leave now?

Seriously, with these people it’s like some kind of bad comedy sketch. Is it any wonder the country’s fucked?

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