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Council madness sending me round the bend

Updated on January 17, 2016

Queue for the complaints desk at Wycombe District Council

Make an appointment and come back later

It has become impossible to ignore the direction in which our government is taking public services in their never ending campaign to reduce costs by cutting what works and ignoring the root of the problem.

Our once perfectly acceptable jobseekers system now hinges on a website which makes it utterly impossible to determine which jobs are genuinely new and which are red herrings, simply claiming to be a vacancy you have not seen before.

The local tax office closed it's doors, replaced instead by a desk located within the council offices. This in turn was also closed and replaced with a call centre. Each iterative 'improvement' distances the public from the service they urgently require access to.

And now, the latest victim of this streamlined madness is the council itself. No longer can you visit the office to discuss a problem with your tax bill, benefits or anything else. They insist that you now need to book an appointment in order to talk to somebody. This is crazy, not everybody is in the position to know when they are available in a day or a week's time. Sometimes you simply need to take the initiative as soon as a free moment arises, but now you need to psychically predict your unexpected free moments days in advance!

I was unfortunate enough to find that my ongoing temporary job ended at the turn of the year and have had no choice but to claim benefits whilst I address this situation. The job centre processed my claim, including housing benefit. Having heard nothing from the council, this week I chased my claim, only to be told I do not have one as the job centre didn't set it up. Several phone calls to the job centre confirmed that in fact they did, several phone calls to the council all insisted that they didn't. I have been told they can check the computer system and see everything done by the job centre and I have been told they can phone them to discuss it directly. However all this has to be done over the phone as they won't see me. I was told to discuss it with a supervisor, who suggested I wait for a week. When your rent isn't getting paid you don't want to wait, you want a reassurance that someone is on the case and it is being dealt with. I was told to go down there and speak to them in person, except they won't do that. I ended up locking horns with the receptionist and a colleague for roughly 30 minutes and got absolutely nowhere.

They want me to come back another day, but a very, very important personal matter is keeping me away from town. When I am back it is not planned and it is not for very long. The ability to simply walk in the door when you happen to be free and wait to see someone is a vital service they have quietly cut. I propose that this needs to change as a minority of the town have work and personal lives which simply aren't compatible with this new system. Why should they suffer?


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