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UK: Jobcentres and the UK in general.
Whats it all for.
If you happen to be unemployed, sick or on low wages in the UK today it seems the country is not a happy place to be.
For example if you apply for the major benefit if your out of work you go along to the jobcentre and make an agreement to look for work in order to get your benefit - JSA (Jobseekers Allowance). You have to commit to looking for work for 35 hours a week in order to get your money from the state in order to appease the conditions of your jobseekers agreement. The agreement is a contract between you and the jobcentre and that if you do not meet the conditions of the agreement you could possibly face what they call 'sanctions' which could mean your benefit is suspended. To me if you are already working when applying for JSA it should be that you have for filled part of that contract you have signed to look for work so therefore then they should relax the fact you have to look for work if already working.
It should be turned into a top up benefit then as you have shown willing to work even if that job is part - time and your happy doing that. Instead there is no incentive, no reward, you have to keep looking for work which to me is unfair if you only want to work part - time or cannot work full - time due to outside commitments.
Your job centre advisor will tell you in no uncertain terms once you have signed the jobseekers agreement you are now working for the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) which seems an odd thing to say. However it makes sense when you realize that Iain Duncan Smith head of the DWP has changed the culture of the jobcentre in that IDS has said looking for jobs doing 35 hours a week should be job in itself and if you carry out what you promised to do in your jobseekers agreement that is commit to look for work then you will be paid for your endeavours. I can see why the government has done it but at the same time it is blackmail.
However both out of work and in work benefits have taken a hit in cut backs thanks to George Osborne's austerity package. Yet we can find millions to send for over seas aid budget for basket case countries like India and basket case continents like Africa. There were rumours that IDS and Osborne were arguing over this in cabinet but how truthful this is I cannot say.
People in the UK today face rising council tax bills from local councils as their budgets have been cut and trimmed to reflect the money situation the UK is supposedly in hence the rise in council tax. Council Tax areas are grouped in band C, B or A and what you pay monthly depends in what category of area you live. With C being the highest and A the lowest and once upon a time if on benefits or low wages your council tax bill would be free now you get a discount which may be helpful or not depending on your circumstances.
Also energy bills have been rising from the big 6 companies although some of the big energy companies I believe like EDF say they freeze their bills for a year. Also many smaller energy companies have been under cutting the larger companies much like Aldi and Lidl have been under cutting the larger supermarkets in the UK like Tesco.
So these are the facts of living in the UK today for ordinary people in low paid jobs or depending on benefits and it is a struggle. Unless your on a damned good wage and then obviously this will not be so bad on your household budget.
Also people on benefits or low wages may struggle to do their weekly or monthly shop as some supermarkets have made efforts to reduce the price of their goods. But if you shop around Tesco for example you will find in their reductions they do not give a lot away.
It seems also if your sick or disabled and apply for benefits the thinking is you would be better off in a job and I can see the thinking on that as they reckon you are more positive if you suffer with mental illness if your working however. What about if you cannot mentally or physically cope with any job and in trying to get ESA the major benefit for those described above (Employment and Support Allowance) you again have to under go a test and assessment to see if you are eligible for this benefit. But often these benefit assessments are not fair and maybe conducted by people who possibly may not be trained in the particular area of mental or physical health the people they assess are suffering with. Then if you are awarded the benefit there are two groups one where you still look for work and one where you can if you want to.
However if you fail these assessments you can appeal and may cases are successful in which case they continue to get ESA but many are not and suicides have happened because of this something Iain Duncan Smith seems in denial about.
Under the Cameron regime since 2010 food banks have grown for the poor which to me in 2016 should not be happening. Then because people are living longer the government is always putting up the retirement age so in theory we all be working till we drop.
Sunday used to be a sacred day in the Christian calendar but since 1994 the Sunday working hours have been relaxed which angered many Christians and now the government is talking about allowing councils to relax them even more which is fine if your a workaholic but what about if you want to spend time with your family. Many workers are pressurised into working long hours and all this shows the government is not on the side of the poor and working people.
This is the face of the UK today that many of us are facing where the government mantra is 'Work pays' and maybe it does if your on a certain amount of money but not for many who are facing the situations I have described in this piece.