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They told me to borrow money from friends when they sanctioned me

Location: UK » Scotland » AB
They told me to borrow money from friends when they sanctioned me

Andy, in his 50s. Works as a painter and decorator. Has to sign on when work dries up:

I was sanctioned. They stopped my money [because I got an attendance day wrong]. They had me signing on on the Monday and then coming in on the Tuesday for a review and then the following Monday to sign on again, but they kept changing the days and I got the Monday mixed up with the Tuesday. I was meant to go on the Monday and it was usually a Monday, but they put Tuesday down. I didn’t get it. I genuinely made a mistake. I realised and went in the next morning - and they stopped me for four weeks money. I just got my first payment [after that sanction] last week. I signed on again last Monday. By Thursday, it had been six weeks since I had any money. But on Thursday, I didn’t receive anything in my bank account. I was furious. I came here and [found out that] they hadn’t released my money.

They said to me - “have you got friends you can borrow [money] off? Have you got family you can borrow off?” I said - “what’s that got to do with my entitlement for money?” They said - “are you owed money? Can you get it?” Well - it’s nothing to do with that. [It shouldn’t be about] whether people owe me money, or whether I have friends here who can lend me money. I did get some money from friends where I used to work, because I couldn’t survive, but it’s not their business whether I get help from a friend. If it wasn’t for that friend that sent me money across, I’d have had very little. They don’t have a lot of money but they helped me out with the basics.

After stopping my money, I didn’t get any money for almost six weeks. I had to ring up, because what happens is that they lock your account. If there’s a sanction against you, they lock your account. [Last week] they hadn’t unlocked my account, so I rang them again, because I had no money last Thursday, even though I wasn’t on the sanction. I did get the money, but I had to go through a lot of hoops. It was on locked and she had to release it.

I have two grownup children here and that’s why I came back here to England, but things went wrong. I couldn’t do this [stay with the jobcentre] forever. This would drive me…I would rather be working. It’s degrading the way they treat you. Every time you do something wrong, it is like there’s a threat. You’re going to lose your money for four weeks and then you’re worried. It’s like treading on eggshells. [For me, my mistake was] just a pure timing issue. They were not reasonable. They wouldn’t hear it. They didn’t give me a chance. I didn’t even get a letter. They said “Oh, it must be late because of Christmas.” I couldn’t believe they stopped me for four weeks for being a day late. They should say “Okay, because it hasn’t happened before, [we’ll let it go]. If you make a habit of it, I could understand, but I’m never late.

This lady here at the jobcentre, she is always difficult. Now, she says I’ve got to go back on Friday. Normally, my day is every week on Monday for a signon and then it can be Monday or Tuesday for a kind of review of what you’re doing.

With Universal Jobmatch - she always keeps on at me [to use it]. I’m not on it. It was useless. I didn’t tick the box which gives them the right to look at it. I knew I had the law on my side, because I knew it was not mandatory, but every time I see her, she’s always [on about it]. She threatened to go to management about it and I said, “look - you go. As far as I know the law is on my side and I’m under no obligation.” This issue is going to come up again on Friday.

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