62-year-old Jimmy Stirling returns to Scotland after a short break to visit friends – but runs into trouble at the Jobcentre
I AM Jimmy Stirling, a 62-year-old unemployed graphic designer, photographer and musician, single grandfather and social housing tenant living in Glasgow.
I receive Jobseeker’s Allowance of PS50 per week and have a very small pension payment of just under PS25 per week. I do voluntary work for my neighbouring community and look after one of my granddaughters for two days per week.
I was recently conscripted to take part in the UK Government’s Community Work Programme, where I would be forced to work for my Jobseeker’s Allowance, which I see as slave labour.
This not volunteering, this is not being paid a wage, this is conscription.
I am against this terrible programme and this is my experience in trying to avoid a six-month, 30-hours-per-week sentence just to juggle the government’s statistics to make them look good.
Below is my latest diary update. You can read the others here.
18 February 2016
Having signed off for Jobseeker’s Allowance on 3 February, I had to sign back on on 18 February on my return .
I was to do this online via a rapid re-sign facility. I arrived home around 10am, jet lagged and tired. I went online to do the rapid re-sign. After filling in my post code, the site told me that I was in a Universal Credit area. There was no option for Jobseeker’s Allowance.
I continued via the Universal Credit form but was told I was not eligible as I was over the age of 60 years and six months, so that was the end of that particular line.
I had to search through the DWP website to try to find a phone number I could call to verbally do a rapid re-sign. After trying two numbers and waiting to listen to the options, I found that they were not suitable.
I tried a third number and after waiting on the options, I got someone to speak to who took my details. Finishing the details, I noticed it was 11.30am. I was then told I would have to visit my local Jobcentre and that my appointment time was 12.20pm.
It is a 25-minute walk to the Jobcentre so I had very little time to do anything in between.
I arrived at the Jobcentre and informed them that I was told to come in at 12.20pm for a rapid re-sign. Of course, with such short notice, the Jobcentre knew nothing about it. I waited and was called later after my details were checked on their computer system. I then re-signed.
I also had to visit the centre, close by, that deals with housing benefit to check with them what happens because I was away and had signed off for two weeks for clarification. I wait to see what will happen, this could be another story.
I got back home around 2.30pm, tired, hungry and with some disbelief but no surprise. I will probably not be paid until March as the system works two weeks in arrears. I will only find this out when I sign on again at the beginning of March.
Whether I am placed on a Community Work Programme again or put forward for some other Tory government punishment for being unemployed I will have to wait and see.
Picture courtesy of Jimmy Stirling