No depression

So Maria Miller, the DWP Minister, says there are loads of jobs out there if people just looked a little bit harder. And here’s the debunking of that argument from the Guardian (with kudos to James Ball, who is doing increasingly excellent work. His columns and Channel 4’s Fact Check are a must if you want to keep tabs on whether you’re being told big fibs or just little ones.

I had a constituent come to see me in my advice surgery the other day, who’d had his JSA cut because, they said, he hadn’t been trying hard enough. He showed me the little booklet he has to fill in, with details of all the jobs he’d applied for and all the enquiries he’d made at firms that weren’t doing any hiring, with a heartbreaking column at the end headed something like “what will you do now?” which he’d filled out with phrases like “I will try harder” and “I will keep looking”. What else could he say?

This is Uncle Tupelo doing the Carter Family’s No Depression. “I’m going where, there’s no depression…” Just waiting for Maria to tell us where that is…

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  • Tony Dyer  On February 6, 2012 at 8:32 pm

    I regularly help a young relative of mine to apply for “jobs” given her by her local job centre. 95% of the time, she does not even get a response from the employer. (the quotation marks are because sometimes the “jobs” are in fact companies using “job opportunities” as a form of cheap advertising)

    A few weeks ago she was told that a “sanction” was being placed on her JSA payments (reducing them to £11 per week) because she had failed to apply for one such position (from a list of 12, none of which had responded to her application).

    Luckily, I had kept a record of her applications for her including in this case a screen capture of the “application sent” response for an online application.

    Harmed with this, I was able to contact the company concerned, who eventually agreed to contact the Job Centre, who eventually agreed to lift the sanction.

    If we had not kept a screen capture, or if the application had not been online, it seems unlikely that we would have been able to get the sanction lifted.

    During a series of conversations regarding this matter, I was told, almost as an aside, that job centre staff had been given a minimum target for sanctioning JSA claimants as part of their performance targets. Unfortunately I find this only too easy to believe.

    • kerrymccarthy  On February 6, 2012 at 8:43 pm

      I think that could well be true – re targets – the man who came to see me hadn’t, as far as I could tell, done significantly less in the week he was sanctioned than he had in previous weeks. He was doing courses, he’d prepared a CV, he was cold-calling firms and replying to adverts, even when it was obvious there was no chance of being offered the job. In fact he was getting a hard time about signing up for a course because that meant he wasn’t available to work – so couldn’t win either way!

  • Tony Dyer  On February 6, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    The problem seems to be that many staff at Job Centres and the like seem to be set a whole series of targets that they have to meet most of which appear to be designed to find reasons to penalise job seekers and cut their benefits rather than help them into employment or training. I suspect that many of the staff dislike having to do this, but they are only too aware that in the present climate they could easily be on the other side of the desk when the next, almost inevitable cull of the public sector workforce arrives.

  • Quietzaple  On February 6, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    Is she really that stupid?

  • liz freeman  On February 7, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    This decision may well be appealable – please direct her to our website which advertises independent advice agencies in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. They provide free specialist welfare benefit advice. The website is Advice agencies also meet up with DWP every few months – this sort of thing could be fed back to them.

  • liz freeman  On February 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    Advice Agencies in Bristol are also collating information from JSA clients facing sanctions. Please direct them to the website to find the advice agency near them. Thanks

  • Chris Alder, Liddle Towers, Harry Stanley, Mark Duggan and a cast of millions.  On February 7, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Slightly off topic but as Okie Mutt said…”Do you believe that there are no false rape claims by females?”
    “Do you believe that males accused ought to be granted anonymity?” (Think hard, the current situation will lead to yet another defeat by police state Britain at the ECHR).
    Do you believe that a woman who makes a false rape claim that is proved to be a lie ought to get a 10 yr minimum sentence?”

    • kerrymccarthy  On February 7, 2012 at 10:43 pm

      No, I don’t support anonymity for defendants. I’m pretty sure I blogged about it when it was floated by this Government about 18 months ago. And I wish you were as concerned about the pathetically low conviction rate for rape cases. Don’t you think it’s a travesty of justice that so many men can rape with impunity?

      • Ciaran Rehill  On February 8, 2012 at 1:15 pm

        Don’t you think it is a travesty of justice that so many wimmin can lie?

  • Paul Bemmy Down  On February 8, 2012 at 4:26 pm

    Do you agree with Jack Straw and Chris Bryant, that it was a mistake to give workers from the new accession states to the EU in 2004, unrestricted access to our jobs market?

    • Calvary  On February 8, 2012 at 7:36 pm

      Not only was it a mistake but ZaNuLabour made no provision for 2 million Poles arriving overnight. As for rape, often it is Buyers Remorse, very much not the same thing.

    • kerrymccarthy  On February 8, 2012 at 10:12 pm

      Re economic migration from EU accession countries… That’s been said by Ed Balls too, and yes, we underestimated the impact.

      As for the comments about rape, what deeply unpleasant people you are, and not a single fact to support your arguments. I am not going to let my blog becoming a Guido Fawkes type repository for obnoxious and grossly offensive behaviour by people hiding behind the cloak of anonymity, so take this as notice that I will delete future comments from you. No doubt you will then rant about freedom of speech. I wouldn’t allow this blog to be used to as a platform to promote the BNP and I’m not prepared for it to be used to denigrate rape victims either. If you feel the need to express yourself on this issue, go off and set up your own blog.

  • Paul Bemmy Down  On February 9, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    But I still don’t understand the thinking behind the decision. We were told they would do the low-paid jobs, but surely that would be the jobs that workers looking to Labour for support, would also be doing. You say the impact was underestimated, but David Blunkets office was fast-tracking visas for workers from those countries before the entry date, so as to keep numbers down afterwards, suggesting they knew beforehand that there would be more than was being claimed. Blair must have had a reason, but ultimately it was very damaging for New Labour.

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