Why I think Iain Duncan Smith is an idiot

So Cait Reilly has won her Court of Appeal claim that being made to work for free at Poundland was unlawful.

As Grumpy Cat would say; GOOD.

If you don’t know the story, then let me summarise for you. Cait Reilly, finished her degree, couldn’t find work, went onto Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and was told she had to do this work placement or face losing her jobseekers allowance. The work placement was basically unpaid. After all, minimum wage for over 21s is £6.19. JSA for up to 24 year olds is a maximum of £56.25 a week.

If Ms Reilly worked for 2 weeks, at 35 hours a week, then she should have been paid a minimum of £6.19 per hour worked, which works out roughly £216.65 (gross payment) per week, instead she received JSA. Let’s say she got the top £56.25 a week that is a difference of £160.40, that’s £320.80 for 2 weeks work she did. That’s actually quite a lot of money.

Iain Duncan Smith has hit back at the ruling calling it “utter madness” and that he has no intentions of paying compensation to any claimant who declined to join such a scheme and instead have their benefit payments docked as a result.

My response to IDS? You sir, are a raging *insert expletive of your choice* idiot.

I fail to see how Politicians can implement such schemes, having never experienced the utter humiliation that millions face at the Job Centre each week. They’ve never NOT had a job, or not had any money. They’ve (most likely) never wondered how they would put food on the tables for their families, or pay the household bills. Never stressed or worried and looked into bankruptcy as an option to survive.

This time four years ago, I was ushered into an office with about 20 other people and given notice that we were all facing redundancy. A few weeks later, I was made redundant. I was fuming. I was upset. I was worried. I was stressed. I was a mixed bag of feelings and my emotions were ALL over the place. We had just put down all the deposits for our wedding which was 7 months away, The Husband has just gotten a job (after 7 months of looking after his degree was completed), it was only £6 an hour, but it was a job and meant that we could finally go ahead with it all and not struggle financially. We were lucky; our joint income would have been around £44k. Yes, we had saved and scrimped to get our deposits together, and now we were looking like we’d have to (at best) really cut down or (at worst) cancel and lose our money. We cut down. Our income went from £44k a year to just £12k a year.

Yes I got a redundancy payout, but that was rationed to cover my bills (thank GOD for PPI, which after 3 months of being unemployed kicked in). I had to go to the Job Centre and “sign on”. Every week I had to fill in my book with jobs I’d applied for and the outcome, I had to take it to my JSA Advisor who 3 our of 4 weeks was rude, patronising and encouraged me to apply for menial jobs that I couldn’t have survived on after paying to travel to work. One job cost more money for me to get to, than it actually paid!

After 2 weeks of signing on, I asked for another book to record my job applications and was asked why I needed a new one. (Some of them are not very clever!) Obviously because the old one is FULL, which I pointed out and was met with “why have you applied for so many jobs, you only need to do 3 a week”. Each week it was the same. I’d turn up 15 minutes before my allocated appointment time, wait an hour to be seen and then be spoken to rudely, patronised and often in tears by the end. For £47 each week. Was it worth it? NO. Did I have to do it? YES. Why? Because they were the ones who signed my monthly insurance claim forms to continue paying my bills.

It got to August and I informed my advisor that I was getting married and moving. I did everything in writing. Confirmed the date I was getting married, and they sorted it all out and moved my claim to another Job Centre, which unbelievably turned out to be worse than my own Job Centre. Waiting up to 2 hours to be seen, shouted at on occasion, rudeness, being patronised to name a few things. My mental health suffered.

I got married, a small ceremony, small reception, all done on the cheap. I gave copies of my marriage certificate to the advisor, the Job Centre manager, it was all put on my “file” and I sent off my marriage certificate to the Job Centre “head office” in Belfast with all the necessary documentation and changed my name, then I received a letter 7 weeks after I sent everything through stating that I was no longer entitled to any JSA as I was now the sole responsibility of my husband. I appealed and asked them how I was expected to survive, my husband was on a minimum wage job and was told “not our problem quite frankly”. I still had to sign on (now every 2 weeks) to get my insurance forms filled in so my PPI would continue to pay my financial products. It was degrading and humiliating the way I was treated.

About a month after, I received a letter stating that I had been overpaid £101 because I had failed to inform them of my change of circumstances. I went ballistic and my complaint letter was 3 pages long (in size 10 font) and it was sent to the Job Centre Manager, the Appeals process, the head of the DWP at the time, and for good measure I sent a copy to the Prime Minister. It was 3 pages of facts based on how I was treated, how paperwork was lost, how rude staff were, how much it cost me to keep calling Belfast to chase things. I went to town. A week later I received a letter from the DWP saying that I didn’t have to return the overpayment and apologising, and a letter from the Job Centre Manager apologising and promising to investigate.

Throughout this whole ordeal, I still had to go every 2 weeks to be humiliated and demoralised. I applied for almost 700 jobs, anything paying more than £7 an hour, I applied for. However in the height of an economic recession, I was turned down for most of them. In 7 months I got invited to 11 interviews. 11 out of almost 700. Yet every 2 weeks I was constantly asked “why haven’t you found a job yet”

At the end of October I was told I had to attend a compulsory week course on how to get back into work. I wasn’t sure how this was going to help me, simply because hardly anyone was hiring. More people were being sent in droves to the Job Centre thanks to redundancies. Ironically I’d applied for a job as a Job Centre Advisor. I thought that if some of the trained monkeys who humiliated me every week could do it, then I sure as hell could too! I was turned down, ironically being told “you’re over-qualified for this role”.

I failed to see how this course was going to help me. I had to pay to travel to get to the course, pay for my own lunch and not get anything out of it.

Thankfully someone called to offer me a job. It was a basic job. I sat in a call centre and answered phone calls for 8 hours a day. It only paid £6 and after paying my bills and transport there was no money left over for food or household bills. We applied for Working Tax Credits (which eventually shafted us, but that’s another story!) just so we could pay The Husbands father some rent and utilities and also so we could eat each week.

I took the job so I didn’t have to be humiliated each week. I could continue looking for a better paying job in the meantime and the shift work meant I could go to interviews.

I remember sitting in some dingy training room with some other people, I was the only one smartly dressed. The course instructor came in and set up, as I got the call. The moment he started to introduce himself, I stood up and said “sorry, I’m not doing this. No offence, but its crap, and I’ve just been offered a job which I accepted and I start in an hour. Bye!” and I literally ran from the room. It was the most liberating thing I’ve ever done in my life. I remember it was snowing and I remember calling The Husband and screaming down the phone that I had a job!

3 months later I got a new job, which paid more money, still only half my salary before I was made redundant, but better in so many ways than £6 an hour. It had great benefits and the money increased after training and I was guaranteed a pay increase every year thanks to the industry being heavily unionised. 3 years later I’m still here, only £7k off my old pre-redundancy salary. The Husband is still at his job and has worked his way up, and whilst we are not flush with cash, we manage each month.

So Iain Duncan Smith, I challenge you, to perhaps do an undercover boss series. Go undercover for 2 months, in disguise and sign on; experience this awful system that you seem to think is acceptable. I’d be interested to see if you changed your views.

In the meantime, I applaud Cait Reilly. Good for you!

The current system doesn’t work for the people who genuinely need it and is abused by others who make no effort at all. You put in ridiculous systems, make ridiculous cuts that actually don’t make any sense (don’t get me started on the Child Benefit capping) and then complain when the legal system rules it unlawful and paves the way for people to claim compensation from you.

So much for saving the country money! These cost cutting / money saving schemes you’ve implemented could end up costing the country up to £40m!

It needs to change and Iain Duncan Smith and his government cronies need to sit up and take notice.

Business Bingo

In the business world, you often hear people come up with stupid sayings. Why can’t people just use plain English? Apparently people use these stupid sayings as a way of “expert” talk, but really I think it’s just a way to out-vocab everyone and try to make others feel a bit stupid.
I once got told “It’s like French or German – just a different language, not designed to make feel you feel stupid – just designed to be spoken between peeps who speak the same language”

Here are a few phrases you may come across in the business world and what it basically means.
A good idea is to put them all in a grid and cross them off as they come up during a meeting. If you get a line or even a full house, shout BINGO. It’s probably a good idea to have an idea floating around that’s relevant (and new) to your meeting, so that you can at least share the idea once you’ve made an arse out of yourself.

1. Spiky chair treatment – when you’re in front of your boss, who’s giving you a hard time, and you can sit still.
2. Blue Sky Thinking – clear free thinking
3. Scope creep – where you’ve been asked to do something specific and you just do what you like instead.
4. Ready- Fire- Aim! – doing something without thinking it through.
5. I hear what you say and I share your concerns – stop rabbiting on, i get it
6. Thought showers – being inundated with ideas.) Apparently using “brain storming” is unPC
7. You can’t educate pork – I’m clever, you’re stupid cause you don’t understand my Point of View.
8. Quick and dirty – someone asks you for some detailed information but wants it RIGHT NOW.
9. Open door policy – what managers say to make everyone like them.
10. A sunset thought – you’re in a meeting and someone says “just one last thing”
11. Let’s put that in the lift and see what floor it stops at – having an idea and wanting to find out what others think of it.
12. Putting rocks on the runway – where someone is doing their best to make problems for you.
13. Wet towel around the head – too many ideas and thinking too hard and stressing.
14. Violently agree – agreeing whilst shaking your fist and looking cross.
15. Eating the elephant – taking a really big problem and slowly resolving it.
16. Corporate disobedience – going against your companies values and behaviours
17. Let me be candid – being clear and open about something.
18. That’s just fish and chips – really basic stuff
19. Hammer that home – really making a point
20. Employee engagement – getting everyone to agree with you
21. Seagulling – you know where a seagull harasses you for your stuff, invades your personal space, then shits all over you? THAT.
22. It’s a gnats cock – a problem that’s really small.
23. Put down the acid on them – really making things uncomfortable for someone.
24. Let’s run that up the flagpole and see who salutes it – see #11
25. “I smell a rabbit!” – the alternative to “i smell a rat”
26. Let’s get interactive on it – communicating a idea or process to a large volume of people.
27. Testiculating – waving your arms about whilst talking bollocks
28. Corporate DNA – a company’s image.
29. Copy with pride – taking someone else’s good idea and implementing it for your own use.
30. Management intelligence – information that management may have about their business or staff.
31. Coalescing out of the ether – where you’re in a meeting and everyone gives a few ideas.
32. Helicopter View – looking down on everyone or getting the “big picture”
33. Active Inertia – looking like you’re really busy when in fact you’re actually doing sod all.
34. Management Tourism – where a manager visits some exotic location in the name of work.

A little less conversation….

Occasionally at work we have discussions. Not particularly work related discussions, because when you’re at work it’s not always about doing work, not all of the time anyway. In fact you really shouldn’t work all of the time whilst you are at work cause it’s not good for your health. You need to have conversation. Conversations with colleagues about non-work stuff is called team bonding. Team bonding is good apparently. It aids productivity (or it may do, I haven’t actually researched this stuff, cause that’d be like work)

Anyway. Non-work related conversations/discussions are good.

Today we had a pretty philosophical and theological conversation about Sharia Law in Saudi Arabia (and other countries) vs. Human Rights, and whether the two could go hand in hand. I pretty much stayed out of this conversation, because I’d have likely offended someone or put my foot in my mouth or both. The conversation tailed off and we all got back to work.

A colleague came back from a late lunch, and I happened to ask what he had, his reply, “a couple of glasses of Shiraz and a good steak!” which is not possible and totally made as a joke, because everyone who works in my industry knows that we have a very strict no alcohol policy.

At this comment, another colleague asks “so would you get stoned if you drank” to which the colleague opposite me says “yeah, probably” and the colleague back from lunch pipes up “but getting stoned is fun!” Wrong kind of getting stoned….

At which point he then asks, “Why do they use smaller stones? Why not just throw one big stone?”

In my head I know have an image of someone standing in front of a building that is set for demolition, whilst they are hit with a wrecking ball. And I know it’s wrong, but I can’t help but laugh.

Perhaps conversation/discussion about non-work related stuff doesn’t make teams more productive. As Elvis’s teacher used to say “A little less conversation, a little more work”, ok so that’s a lie, but you get my drift!

One Week Down

Today I completed my first week in my new job, and I must say that I rather enjoyed myself!

It was a busy week but it was still brilliant.
Excel is my new best friend so it seems. But only when it has pretty colours.

Next week is going to be even busier and I can’t wait to embrace it.

It’s possible that I’m mental. Most people complain about their jobs, I quite like mine.


New Beginnings

Today I started my new job, and it’s a welcome change from my last one. My last 2 days in the last role were horrendous. I’m glad for new opportunities and challenges.

I started off number crunching and turning my crunched digits into pretty spreadsheets, until I realised that what was sent to me had a few anomalies and now I have to clarify them. Hopefully I can clarify them tomorrow and actually finish the task at hand.
There are a LOT of numbers to crunch, and thank god for nice coffee is what I say. I’ve set myself a deadline for this Friday, so I’m hoping I’ll be sorted by then.

Currently I have no desk, so I’m borrowing others and it gave me a new blogging idea. To share my view with you. The plan (should I remember to embrace it everyday) is to seek out the window nearest to my desk and take a picture of this view and then to share it with you. There are some pretty awesome views from this building.

Tomorrow I have my first meeting. It’s more a sit back and take notes meeting but I’m cool with that.

It’s been awesome so far!

It’s not over till the Fat lady Sings

Ive just completed my assessments.
They were hard.
I’m glad they’re over now, because with the feeling of relief that they’re over, comes the relief of the anxiety I’ve been feeling about doing them.

Now comes a whole new load of anxious feelings. I have to wait a week to hear if I passed or not. A week.

If I pass then I go to the next stage for formal interview with a panel of management and HR.

So hold your fingers crossed for me!

In other news? It’s my birthday tomorrow.
Normally at this point I have passed excitement and have run into complete hyperactive overdrive.

I don’t feel birthday(y).

I feel numb. There’s a range of emotions running through me and my body can’t settle on just one, it’s just numb.

It’s my birthday tomorrow and I’m working from 6am.

Am I looking forward to it?
Not one bit.

from Becca with Love

So yeah I haven’t updated in a while… ok, nearly a month. I apologise.  It’s been hectic. New Job etc.

I’ve been down in Margate training for my new job.  It’s a long commute, not exactly hard, but tiring.

Every morning I get to St Pancras about 6.10 – 6.15, I get a Tall Americano with steamed milk and an egg and bacon panini.  I train all the way to Margate, learn stuff and then travel back.
My days start at 3.30am when I have to get up to be able to get to Margate before 9.00am.

Margate is pretty much boarded up.  Fair enough it is only March, and it’s fricking freezing down there.  I am sure it is much better when the summer starts.  TBH I’ve had as much of Margate as I can take.  only 6 more days there.

Apart from the hard work, ahem, training I’ve been doing, nothing much has been happening.
It was Kims birthday on the 5th, so the Sunday after we all went for a pub lunch, it was pretty ace.
I’ve ordered myself a new iPhone. The 3GS one.  it should be arriving this morning, we’ll see.  I hope it does, cause i want to play with it!

I found out that my brother and his girlfriend are having another baby, this August.  I can’t wait.  I’m hoping it’s a little girl, but Daniel thinks it’s going to be another boy.  Either way I can’t wait!

I’m now just grasping for things to say…. How bad is it that I can’t really remember whaty I’ve done over the past month!


A is for Albatross

So I had a job assessment today for South Eastern Trains.
There were 7 of us to start with, 3 got send home cause it sesms they didnt have the right paperwork.

There were 6 assessments in all

  • a health and safety memory test
  • a ticket checking test
  • a maths test

after these 3 tests,  4 left us, and there were only 3 left, myself and two other guys.
We then had to do another 3 assessments

  • a ticket selling test
  • a role play
  • report writing

The Health and Safety test gave you 4 paragraphs of info which you had to revise and then answer questions on.  Then the ticket checking test to see if you could understand rail tickets (50 questions to answer in 8 minutes) it was HARD. and then the mathematics test.  oh dear lord have mercy on me.  I can’t believe I passed this one, with an A as well.  This coming from the girl who failed her Maths GCSE, 3 times, each time getting an even worse score than the last one.  I hate Maths, and I’m pretty sure it hates me too.

The last 3 tests, were pretty intense.  The ticket selling one was 30 minutes to work out the costs of each ticket, minus discount and what change was due.  There were 20 scenarios.  The the role play.

I hate role plays, and this was no different, the moment I came out of it, I thought of things I could have done better, things I should have picked up on, etc.  Then you had to write a report on the role play and record the incident that occured.

I still can’t believe I got A’s.
Dead chuffed to be fair.  This feels like the 1st thing (no wait, this IS the 1st thing) I haven’t been successful at since job hunting from March.

Just have to wait and see when the interview is and how that goes.

If I pass that then I have a medical and we go from there!

Fingers Crossed for me!!!

job or no job? say wha?

So I got a call yesterday from a recruitment consultant about a job as a team leader.
She asked me questions, told me a bit about the job and then asked if I could come and see her at the client site for some more questions.

she called me this morning at 8.30 to see if I could make it, and I could, so I headed off to North Acton for 3.30

Now this job is a temporary contract role for 5 months. I’ve never ever interviewed for a contract role, so I’ve no idea exactly what happened today.

She said that we;d go through my CV, she’d ask me some questions, and then check my documents to make sure I wasn’t an illegal (well she didn’t say exactly like that, but you get the idea)

So off we start, she asks me several questions, takes my documents to photocopy and gives me some forms to fill in. Then she says, the client have said they want us to choose, so basically you’ve just had the interview, and then I sign a temporary worker contract. apparantly she’ll call me tomorrow to let me know.

anyone gone through a contract job before? is that how it’s supposed to work?