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JSA: they threatened sanctions because they couldn’t read my handwriting

Location: UK » Scotland » AB
JSA: they threatened sanctions because they couldn’t read my handwriting

Testimony from Bruce (name changed), a support workers in his 40s. He was furious because he’d actually found himself a job (not through the jobcentre), but had been signed off by the jobcentre a couple of months before he was due his first paycheck. He was still trying to sort out problems with fares and travel costs.

He said:

“[At my signing on appointment], they said “are you looking for work?” and I said “No, I’ve just got a job. They said “okay, we’ll sign you off then.” So they signed me off a couple of weeks before I was supposed to start work. This was at Christmas time. So I had no money for weeks and then I tried to explain to them that I was not going to get paid until the end of the month either. So I tried for a welfare assistance payment, but they said - “you’re not getting that, because you’re not signing on.” Then they stopped my housing benefit, because I wasn’t signing on and everything, so it was like – fantastic. They were giving me no help with my fares or nothing.

“Because I’ve been waiting for this job to sort out and waiting for my CRB checks to come through, they sent me on this stupid course at Wembley. It was just a two week thing - a waste of time. They teach you how to stick a piece of paper back together as a teamwork thing. I paid the fares myself. They said they’d reimburse me, but they lost the form and everything so I had to pay for it. It was a waste of my time going there. They said I’d get certificates for it. Waste of time. I said there’s no way I’m putting that on my CV. You’re having a laugh.

“I signed on for six months was made redundant. I moved up here [to London] thinking I’d get more work up here. It’s just been a nightmare really.

“Over that time, I borrowed with loans. Paying that back - it’s going to take another year or so to get out of it. They just like screwing you in to the wall. They don’t do anything when you get a job.

“They sent me on that stupid course and then promised me the work programme after it. You pay into this [system for help if you lose your job]. Some of the people in the jobcentre are all right, but as soon as you question them… they did threaten me with sanctions, because one of them couldn’t read my writing. They said - “that’s not good enough. If you do that again, we’ll sanction you.”

“I’m working and I still struggle. I had to ask if I could get paid in advance as soon as I started work.”

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