The Great Bus Pass Rip Off: How Jobseekers Are Getting Shortchanged on Travel Expenses

Hundreds of thousands of benefit claimants are missing out on reduced transport fares due to Jobcentres being unaware of, or even downright evasive about the travel assistance scheme on offer.

According to Transport For London, the Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card is eligible to all those claiming one of the following benefits:

“Jobseekers Allowance: if you’re aged 18-24 and have been unemployed for six to nine months

Jobseekers Allowance: if you’re 25 or over and have been unemployed for six to 12 months

Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support: if you’re actively engaged with an adviser in returning to employment”

The pass entitles the holder to half private transport on tubes, buses and trains, and is part of a national scheme designed to help meet the costs of fares to interviews, Jobcentre appointments and other jobseeking travel expenses.

A recent Freedom of Information request revealed that just 490 passes had been given out in the North London Jobcentre Plus district between the four months from 1st November 2011 till 29th February 2012.  This is despite over 7000 Jobseekers Allowance claimants being eligible for the card in the region and thousands more sick or disabled claimants.

Many claimants have taken to the internet in frustration at being unable to access the card, which one person says is “one of those fantasy magical things, like unicorns”.

Astonishingly there is no mention at all of the scheme on Direct.gov.uk, the government website which provides information on benefits and jobseeking.

With prices rocketing, simply travelling to a job interview may prove unaffordable for many claimants.  Even for those lucky enough to hunt down the elusive pass, the miserly scheme only lasts for three months and cannot be renewed.  Claimants on the Work Programme are not eligible as the private contracters like A4e and Serco are responsible for providing help with fares (stop laughing).

There is even evidence that some welfare to work companies are not even paying the fares for people to attend Work Programme appointments.  This is despite it being a contractual requirement for them to cover all transport fares incurred as part of the Work Programme.

Jobcentres themselves will sometimes reimburse travel expenses incurred in attending interviews, but this is entirely discretionary.  Expenses are not normally available for distances of less than 25 miles, are usually only paid in arrears after proof of both the interview and travel has been provided and even then they might say no.

Iain Duncan Smith is happy to hand out billions of pounds to the welfare to work parasites running his shambolic Work Programme.  Yet even the most basic requirement for those looking for work, the money to attend a job interview, is unavailable.

Housing Benefit cuts mean many claimants are now paying significant amounts of rent out of the £70 a week available on Jobseekers Allowance.  When Council Tax Benefit is scrapped in many areas next year this will mean an additional expense.  Due to the introduction of Universal Credit, claimants will need home computers and broadband, or will be forced to spend a fortune in internet cafes.  With the cost of gas, electricity and water all rising,  even simply putting enough food on the table is a daily struggle for many claimants.  Sadly the fares needed to attend an interview may be a luxury many unemployed people can no longer afford.

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

Follow me on twitter @johnnyvoid

50 responses to “The Great Bus Pass Rip Off: How Jobseekers Are Getting Shortchanged on Travel Expenses

  1. I was angered to find out that my local council now operates no concessionary fare scheme for jobseekers. New jobseekers are told to take voluntary jobs and courses while having no income until their JSA claim is sorted out and receiving no reimbursement from the Fairtrade shop that has an unending supply of free labour for its 2-hour slots. The travel costs are £4.70 per day.

  2. They said to me “that was only for the New Deal and that stopped years ago” to me. I’m outside of London but have a railcard now, not that it helps much with the annual fare increase. Almost as cheap as the rip off, piss smelling buses, though.

  3. Thing is it stopped being about people getting a job a LONG time ago. Now they want to keep you on the dole pretty much forever so they can pimp you out to employers who then lay off most of their staff who then land up on the dole pretty much forever being pimped out to other employers who then lay off most of their staff…

    Welcome to Britain in the 21st century, run by the rich for the rich.

  4. Bus fares are a huge problem for us when all we get is £71 a week. An adult single in Stoke costs £2.00 and day ticket is a fiver. Just to go to my work programme provider costs £4.00 consisting of 2 singles at £2 each way. I make sure I always claim bus travel from them as they ARE OBLIGED to pay for it. They just ask for the bus tickets each day and a filled in docket.
    There has however been a time already (I have only been going to this one for about 4 weeks) when they claimed to have run out of money in petty cash one day and told me to claim again next time. I said, “what about if I needed that money in order to get home today?” they said it was too bad, the money had run out for that day. Tough, basically. If I hadnt got 2 quid on me I would have had to have walked home. They did re-imburse me next time though.
    They are supposed to pay for interview clothes and expenses as well, but you will be sent to Asda or Primark though so dont expect an Armani suit lol.
    I find that the bus fares are only a minor inconvenience. Its the work programme itself I hate, its a total waste of time and money.

  5. The Tories expect JSA “customers” to walk to their Jobcentre appointments, walk to their Work(fare) programme appointments, walk to their work(fare) experience job placements and also walk to their job interviews.

    The Tories expect us to set off at the crack of dawn so we can walk for miles and get to our appointments right on time (or get sanctioned of course) – “it’s tough love. It will instill some much needed discipline in the lazy, feckless, workshy benefit scrounging scum, it’s for their own good. They’re all fat slobs anyway, because they spend all day sitting around watching Jeremy Kyle and stuffing their fat greedy faces with junk food and beer, so the exercise will do them good”.

    Of course, because they can hardly afford to feed themselves and are increasingly relying on foodbanks just to eat, people on benefits won’t have the energy to walk long distances to all their appointments, interviews, and work(fare) placements, so they may faint in the streets on the way, which will then lead to them being sanctioned and stripped of their benefits for non-compliance with their Jobseekers agreement because of their failure to attend their interviews, appointments and placements, which will then mean they will have even less money for food.

    • Spot on – love your comments!
      Its one of the UC “requirements” that one must search for work up to 90 minutes travel time from home – does this mean 90 minutes walk?
      II cant understand why I need to waste a bus fare on going to the jobcentre to sign on when I could sign at the Work programme providers, after all, its them that now check on your jobsearch – they pretty much hover over you while you are sat there doing it.
      Jobcentre plus will be extinct soon I think, as All4Emma and Serco take over their role. I dont feel sorry for the JCP staff that will lose their jobs either, I’d like nothing better than to see the snotty advisors and JCP officers have to sign on and attend the work programme with me!

      • Luckily i have osteoarthritis, with degenerating bones, and it was on my med 4 form, but they changed the system, so there is no evidence of any sickness apart from the medication and doctor details.. So me walking for 90 minutes is about a mile.. as i have to stop every 200 yard before i am in pain. Last time i was in a4e, the admin and security guard wanted to get me a taxi as they saw i was in pain and crying. Where i live it is a £4.70 for a day ticket, i worked it out i only have to claim 89 times and a4e is at a loss😉..So i claim everything😉

        • They cared enough to want to get you a taxi but you are full of glee about getting the bus fare

          I reckon if people were so smart at applying for work as they are at trying to cream every free buck from the state we would have no unemployed people

          • Bear in mind that, as a civil servant, ALL your pay, including any that you notionally pay in taxes, has come from the endeavours of people in the private sector; people who actually make or do things that consumers CHOOSE to pay for. A jobseeker costs around £4000 a year. You lot cost £20k a year on average, plus your pension!
            None of us choose to have hundreds of offices full of bureaucrats (you and yours!) processing miles of paperwork, especially when most of what gets done benefits nobody in the real world. So many government jobs, the sole purpose of which is to administer pathetically tiny changes to real people’s lives – pensions going up 80p when we’re 70 – JSA going up bit by bit till we’re 24 – issuing pension credit, when it would be so much cheaper to just give all pensioners the same to start with. But tens of thousands of you ‘civil servants’ would be out of a job, then, wouldn’t you? Always trying to find a way to justify being funded by proper taxpayers, the ones who create rather than waste!
            I don’t know you personally, but I hope that more and more smug, public sector wasters get unlucky themselves sometime. I hope more like you lose your jobs, lose your homes, and lose your hope. When that happens, I hope NOBODY helps you, not at all.
            Then maybe, just maybe, you might develop one single, solitary altruistic bone in your self satisfied body.

            • civil servant

              Such a nice guy yourself, sneering at people who put in a full days work… Tax is tax, hate to break it to you, but your taxes are no better earned than anyone else’s.. bankers for a prime example…. all claimants are not scroungers, but believe, I see plenty of applications every day from people who state they have no money, when their incomes exceed that of your average worker….they will take public sector taxes, and private sector taxes, and laugh at both equally… Only fools and horses work, lala lala… Your perceived ‘altruistic’ self is no help to them, they want cold hard cash…that’s if you even truly are a wage earner, which I doubt

              • I’m not sneering, I’m showing contempt for the system that you’re a part of. It’s mainly wasteful and pointless. Judging by the animosity of your comments on this forum I suspect that the notion of ‘public service’ wasn’t a criterion for your employment.
                And no, tax isn’t tax. Any economist worth their salt will tell you that wealth can only be created by trade. Anything non material paid for by taxes on that wealth is merely sloshing the same money backwards and forwards. If you get paid by the government, the only non-local tax you probably pay is VAT, fuel duty and other purchase related taxes.
                You can doubt what I ‘even truly’ am as much as you want. You’ll never know. But I do know about you. I know that, given the chance to help people, sympathise with them and put them back on their feet, you actually harbour a deep resentment towards them. I can only imagine that you must be very cynical to cash your pay cheque at the end of the month.
                Incidentally, if anyone out there joined the public sector after 1997, congratulations! You’re one of the 750,000 people Blair and Brown employed to artificially lower the unemployment figures. That turned out well, eh?

                • civil servant

                  I say what I do, but you don’t…so you’re ashamed..are you unemployed and ashamed, or unemployable and ashamed?

                  I help plenty of people, and through my ACTUAL work life and experience, I can say that around 90% of people I see, are genuinely looking for worthwhile employment

                  Your attacks on me and civil servants are typical of sometime with a chip on their shoulder, and again, in my experience, usually the first to whine about lack of ‘help’… Why don’t you think of helping yourself? Why not that a state and system that you would die without… My taxes go onto the same pot you take from, whether you claim benefits, use hospital, expect a safe country to live in, with so many things you take for granted… Your western world ‘problems’ make me sick…. Gripping and hating in the very people who you lean on the most…

                  Confess, you are in the 10% who just can’t be arsed doing anything but spouting hot air!!!

                • I like the way you pretend that you care about 90% of your customers, whom you presumably know; yet you make the most offensive assumptions about other posters on this forum and denigrate them and their efforts. Is this because you know them as one of your 10%?
                  The article on this page is about people who have been promised help and are entitled to it under DWP schemes being systematically denied that help. If you don’t think people should have help getting to job interviews, campaign to change the rules – until then, you and your colleagues should apply the rules properly. Don’t troll around websites looking down your nose at people you don’t know and passing judgement on them. Shame on you!
                  Incidentally, apart from two brief spells after university, during which I did any work that came along (and declared it!) I have never made any claim on the state other than medical care. I have worked for myself since 1996, pay my taxes, and don’t want tax credits for littering the world with children. Despite this I manage to have enough of a regard for my fellow human beings that I want to see them helped wherever possible.
                  Odd, isn’t it, that I would approve of these schemes that are meant to get people into work, yet you, whose job actually depends on people being unemployed, are so against them! Why could that be, I wonder?

                • civil servant

                  I like the way you pretend to support people claiming benefits while also demonising the most worthy recipients – children! Beware of accusing people of ‘trolling’ – it immediately exposes your inability to take on board that not everyone agrees with you – while we are on that point, your tendency toward confirmation bias is as alarming as your non stop attacks on me under the guise of ‘caring’ for claimants, while of course not being one yourself – it may surprise you to know, I HAVE claimed benefits, yet another of my points you chose to ignore while laying into the civil service!!

                  I strongly suspect that you have that mile wide chip on your shoulder from personal experience, but are hiding behind jobseekers to make your point – you after all seem more keen to distance yourself from ever being a claimant, more so than I, who you perceive as some sort of monster

                  Let me enlighten you a little further re public V private sector workers as you are making such distinctions – you still pay into a pot, regardless of the cut backs to public sector!! You think everyone in private sector is more worthy? You also ignored my point about bankers, the cause of the economic collapse!! As you were so blunt about hoping public sector workers lose their jobs, you got part of your wish today – did you vote Tory? In retaliation, I really really really hope you need the help of the public sector one day, be it emergency services, health, welfare or whatever, and it is not there – you buy into the Tory scapegoating all you like dear, and SHAME on you for vilifying those who ‘litter’ the world with the children you will depend upon for your future!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                • My word! What an about face! Are you, madam (the “all you like dear” was a giveaway), really the same person who’s been posting on this thread?

                  Quote “They cared enough to want to get you a taxi but you are full of glee about getting the bus fare. I reckon if people were so smart at applying for work as they are at trying to cream every free buck from the state we would have no unemployed people.” About an arthritic person who can’t afford the bus…..

                  Quote “You enjoy wasting tax payers money by wasting resources and are already planning how to deal with universal credit next year… A professional dolite!!” About someone who can’t afford to spend more than 10% of their money getting to a worthless program, someone who was promised help with the cost but denied it…..

                  Quote “If you can post on this forum, you could do jobs.” About a person who might, for all you know, be totally housebound by their disability. There’s only so much money to be made writing blogs, you know!

                  Quote “I party [sic] council tax, rent, my own fares and to work in a place where I get abuse from many of those wanting a free ride!!!! About time it was stopped… Stop more I say.” From someone who apparently needs CTC to bring up her children (obviously I touched a nerve!). How much is it, by the way, that you get in tax credits? (Rhetorical question, I’ve worked it out for most civil service pay grades, and most family sizes.)

                  Quote “Also, you say it is your age stopping you from getting work, but your grammar, spelling etc are atrocious…” About a person unlucky enough to be made redundant, who is trying as hard as is possible, but who can’t afford to move into some sort of urban ghetto where you believe all the unemployed should be kept to make use of the slightly better transport links…. Most jobs don’t need impeccable spelling and grammar. Better for Jobcentre staff to learn the rules about concessionary travel rates before criticising people’s language skills, don’t you think?

                  Of course I’m not attacking you personally, as you aver, and I really am very sorry if you feel I am. I don’t think you’re a monster. But to see someone in your position, who could do a lot of good, being so dismissively unsympathetic to people who are not getting what they were promised… well, it gets my dander up!

                  As to children, I have very nearly started a family three times in the last 20 years, but we have always felt that we couldn’t afford to give them a decent upbringing. To see people taking £75 a week CTC and then abusing Jobseekers… You’ve guessed – it gets my dander up!

                  No. I don’t vote ‘Tory’. I’m a social libertarian. I believe that government should stop interfering. In anything. Full stop. However, that’s impractical as far as building roads etc goes. I also believe that everyone needs a safety net, which is why I’m in favour of a Citizen Payment. Google it. It’s totally fair and would cost half what the DWP costs today.

                  I agree with you that some people just don’t want to work, and that’s bad. But what happens if you take that £70 a week off them? They don’t care anyway, so they get it anyway, by mugging, burglarising, shoplifting – all at a cost to society of far more than £70. And we all have to be scared all the time as well. Obviously, I don’t condone dishonesty, but the amount it costs is not worth the cost of policing it.

                  Look, my dear (you don’t mind, do you?), everyone wants what they are entitled to. Notice I don’t say ‘have a right to’ because rights are few and incontrovertible – the right to life, the right to try to be happy, and the right to not have anyone spoil those thing for you. BUT… You are entitled to taxcredits – claim them! A pensioner might be entitled to pension credits – claim them! A person looking for a job is entitled to the help that they are promised by the state – claim it! Whether the entitlement is fair or reasonable or makes sense is nothing to do with it – we should all claim as much as the law allows us to. Only then will politicians’ false promises be laid bare! They make an election promise counting on the fact that most citizens won’t claim on that promise through ignorance, or simply won’t have heard of whatever ‘benefit’ it is.

                  I must apologise again if you felt I was attacking you – how can I? I don’t know you. We might agree on so much else. Really, it’s not personal at all. But it’s all too easy for GovEmps to depersonalise people, to chastise and victimise them on a whim, because people are just numbers on a page. I implore you to try to find a way of thinking about people so that you never talk about them in the terms you have on this forum.

                  You probably won’t believe me, but I wish you all the best. Help people as much as you can, and don’t mind the ones that just take the money and run, they’ll do that anyway. But if you fall into the trap of treating one decent person like a layabout. guess what! They’ll fulfill your prediction. When even the people who help us don’t believe in us, what else can we do?

      • Thanks.🙂 Your comments are also bang on the money. Does that mean 90 mins walk? Oh yes! IDS is a deeply sadistic creature, so the more punishing that man can make our lives, the more pleasure he gets.

    • It’s all character building of course!

      Is this a london only scheme? I had no idea there were concessionary passes at all?

  6. How right you are R33. After all, it is amazing they allow us to breathe, we ought to be so absolutely grateful – I mean, we are taking up valuable space, so much so they are forcing folk out of their homes and shunting them miles away to live, in places they cannot be seen by the ‘well heeled’. Excuse me while I pewk into the sick-bag.

    Doctors think of us as ‘conditions’ and the elites think of us as useless/resource wasters, I have seen some of their views about us. Having been on sites where medics go. I know they cannot stand us and feel we are complete idiots, devoid of any grey matter. They were discussing the Personal Health budget (a pilot is being carried out somewhere) and apparently people are ‘blowing it’ on theatre tickets and complimentary therapies. Hmm. (And we are going to be held to ransom by these budget holding doctors next year…think about that!) They will get to DECIDE what we need and what we get.

    So, if this is what people do with ‘what ought to be a healthcare budget’ payment, they cannot be trusted to use it for health reasons as doctors know best. I so hate this arrogance, and it is entrenched in a society that blindly allows elitist judgements to rule our every day lives. They can thieve and deceive, kill and maim, lie and blame – but hells bells, if a mere ‘pleb’ does………..they are jailed/sanctioned or otherwise despicably dealt with.

  7. Pingback: The Great Bus Pass Rip Off: How Jobseekers Are Getting Shortchanged on Travel Expenses | Mental Health, Politics and LGBT issues | Scoop.it

  8. Woolly sock fan

    That’s so true about providers won’t always reimburse you for your bus fare. I’ve always walked to my appointments. But one morn, I wasn’t feeling very well so I got on the bus early to go to my 3 hour job search session that was booked in at the centre. When I asked about being refunded for my fare, as indicated on the appointment letter I was given the previous time, they said no, they couldn’t refund it because that day was also my signing on day at the dole office and I’d have to come into town anyway to sign on, so no refund. What a scam. I just carry on walking now rather than waste around £2 for a single way ticket and risk not being refunded for it.

    • Bugger that – the sly bastards, do you sign on at the same time you are due there for jobsearch? or is it signing at 10am and jobsearch at 1pm? They cant expect you to hang around town all day waiting to jobsearch. Do you only have to do jobsearch one day a fortnight? on the other days they expect you in they HAVE TO pay you, or you could refuse to attend due to having no money for the bus, and tell the jobcentre that as well. How far do you have to walk to get from your house to the work programme provider?, if its only half a mile, then OK, they could ask you to walk there, but if its several miles, and its raining, then no, its unreasonable – after all, they are insisting you go in there. Dont let them off paying you, get the bus every time and make them pay – they get a £400 referral fee when you are signed up to them, make them pay the bus company rather than their own greedy fat cats.

  9. Woolly sock fan

    Hi.🙂 No, my sign on times and job searches don’t usually clash. Job searches at usually at 9 a.m. to 12 noon, I sign on after midday, same day. I know what they’re up to though, hanging onto their money like grim death. I’ve heard other people on the 3 hour job search asking if they can go, because they need to sign on during that 3 hour slot, they then come back about 30 minutes later. I think they’ve done that to most people, review appointments and job search sessions fitted in on the same day as signing on day just to stop that fare money escaping from their coffers. It’s alright, I only walk a mile, I’m a good walker and used to walking for years. This useless programme is more like a placebo. I get a bit of money’s worth out of them by printing off some CVs there though. Wow!!

  10. Woolly sock fan

    Can I just add… I got the feeling in the past as well sometimes that they think if people are unemployed, it’s because we can’t read, write, add up, read a bus time, tell the time or tie our own shoe laces – judging by the stupid questions in those basic maths and literacy tests we’ve been forced to do. I know what is though, they get a big payment from the European social fund if they can shove you on one of their little courses.

  11. My work programme provider cant get away with it, I sign on a Friday, in a different suburb of the city to where they are based, and have to attend the work programme on a Monday and Wednesday every week for mandatory Jobsearch. So, over the 44 weeks I am expected to be with them, if I am out of work till the end, 44 weeks at 8 quid a week in bus fares is £352, plus all the free coffee I make sure I drink with 3 sugars in each, plus all the use of the printer etc which I make sure I use to print off loads of jobs, some of which I wont even apply for – I just print for the sake of it to use their paper and printer ink up. I want to make sure they get sweet fuck all out of me – I’d rather that the robbing bus company gets the money than the work programme leeches, and thats all they are. They say we are the leeches off the state – I disagree, when the work programme gets £13000 of taxpayers money, or 183 weeks of JSA at £71 a week, for doing fuck all to get me a job except hound and harass me.
    Regarding the Numeracy and Literacy – I was put on them to try to qualify for credits to do an FLT course through learndirect. Because I scored too highly on them, I was denied the credits, saying I was too intelligent to need a learn direct course. I had to do an employability course instead to gain only half the number of credits I needed to do Reach and Counterbalance.
    You are indeed correct that the dole office thinks everyone on JSA is totally retarded and thick – yet they will expect everyone to be able to claim for Universal Credit online next year – wonder why that is?

    • Yep, I’d definitely claim the fare if it was £8 a week. That’s taking from your food money and winter electric bill money and that. £71 a week minus £8, brings you back down to 2010 dole level money. That thing about being leeches off the state, what they forget is the state are leeches off the people for decades. Funny how they haven’t noticed that many unemployed people have worked 20, 30, 45 years and the accumulated tax, NI and council tax each working person has paid. They just cherry pick and twist it to always make a person look bad. This is what gets me, a person working say, 30 years, now unemployed and been claiming for a year is all of a sudden, a lazy work shy scrounger.

      Irony is, even with this bounty hunter money up for grabs for the providers, they still aren’t getting people into work. The whole thing’s crossed into the realm of fantasy, feels like. Just recently, I filled out my usual application for the part-time Argos Christmas job along with the other god knows how many other hundreds of people.

    • You enjoy wasting tax payers money by wasting resources and are already planning how to deal with universal credit next year… A professional dolite!!

      It’s attitudes like this that give hard working, decent job seekers a bad name

  12. jobcentre plus are placing barriers to these cards because of cost through excuses’ and has been going on for some time,suggesting that they are for long distance travel commuting as an example.denying access ensures that they are not used non job interview purposes in their eyes.

    even no access to benefit claim forms is common in the reception area locally,G4s on the walkie talkie none available ,then told by staff “they’ve flown out the door”,only to go upstairs and forms suddenly appear.so yes its denying entitlement and placing barriers’.

  13. Reality is now privatised : you get the reality you can afford.
    This world is INSANE!!!

  14. I put in a mention for The Void on that Guardian thread.
    Bingo – at last, the Guardian has set the alarm bells ringing, great timing, right before the tory conference. People are in for a really big shock when they read that news article, its gotta get more people listening now – now they know IDS is coming for them, and not just the unemployed.
    Its about time.

  15. Perhaps IDS is capitalism’s Custor’s Last Stand…

  16. Most of you from what I’m reading are not labelled disabled, but I’ll apologize if I’m wrong. You’re having difficulty finding work. Just think how the disabled are going to struggel. They will have to live the rest of their lives are this less money. Somewhere between £65 & £95 per work. At least when things pick up you may find a job, some disabled never will even though Atossers have declared them fit to work. It’s a joke.

  17. United StereoTypes of Unemployment (U.S.T.U)

    Hello,

    This is slightly off topic.

    Before the Work Programme there was New Deal Intensive Activity Period.

    I was referred to a provider 5 times over 2 years (2007-2009). I gained temporary full-time employment on 3 occassions.

    I have been referred to the same provider this year but under the Work Programme.

    I am hoping that somebody can help me make a Subject Access Request, in order to find out if the provider received payments when I gained full-time employment.

    Thank you in advance for any help.

  18. something survived...

    They should call it the Walk Programme, or even the ‘We don’t care you’ve got no legs; WALK!! Programme’. I have a disability bus pass for free buses. Unfortunately not many go past the Work Programme, and those that do, often refuse to stop. When I got sent to the current venue last time in a previous Work Scheme, they let me transfer to one in a town half an hour’s bus ride away, because it was less inaccessible. Then they suddenly decided I couldn’t go there any more and made me come here, then to a different work scheme somewhere else. The place I was going to by bus is now closed down, and they sacked a guy there because he tried to be NICE and HELP me. Now I’m on work programme and it is at this very inaccessible site. It is over 2 miles away and takes an hour to walk to, more if I am carrying lots of heavy stuff. Any activities in the upstairs rooms are not available to wheelchair users or those unable to climb stairs, as there is no lift. The disabled toilet is lousy: a lot in it doesn’t work, it’s right next to the staff in reception so they can hear everything, and the window is seethrough so you can be seen from outside. Also the window is left open and it is a type that, if you are disabled, you cannot reach or close. In fact the previous time I was here there was no disabled toilet at all. You were meant to use the staff toilet on the top floor: tiny, and right next to staff offices so anyone can hear everything. Some of the other facilities are only available upstairs so cannot be used by people who can’t do stairs. What is even more ironic is that it was first built as a centre for people with disabilities! And it’s never had any facilities for them, until they put in the lousy toilet this year. One of those ones where you can’t reach the toilet paper either. Sorry to keep mentioning toilets but after a day of jobsearch and after an hour of walking there, and/or after sampling the bad coffee, toilets get pretty essential. (Jobcentre has no toilets even though they often make you do jobsearch from 9-5 with no break) Most of the computers in the upstairs computer room (work scheme) and downstairs computer room (work programme), and many of the chairs, are broken. A lot of the time the bell to call the staff is also broken. The man the other day told me that all the vacancies on his job board were filled or closed months ago, they only put up closed vacancies! (He could have told me this 2 years ago, a lot of wasted time reading them and applying for them).
    That is inside, but the most inaccessible thing is outside the building. They have said ‘wheelchair users should drive or get their carer to take them’. If you don’t count the bus or the long walks, then when you get there you have to go down a steep, slippery, potholed hill, into a carpark that is often flooded. I’m not a wheelchair user: those who are, do not all have carers with cars, or the ability to drive, or a car. The carpark is very uneven with more potholes and trip hazards, and works vehicles sometimes park there so you have to squeeze past them. On the way back you have to go back up the same hill. I very much doubt somebody in a wheelchair could push themselves up it, even if pushed by a carer they’d have trouble. They can also be hit by traffic to the docks, as there is no proper pavement. What is mad is that the work scheme judged me as being too sick to be expected to walk 2 hours to get to this site. So they sent me somewhere else. But the work programme said I had to walk and to this site. Some people have been told to walk to a site a few streets from the one I took the bus to at the work scheme, it is 12 miles away so they are told to walk 24 miles! Also they don’t seem to care if there are no buses. I’ve been in trouble here for trying to get a bus when I was too ill to walk, and on each occasion the bus didn’t come, or came late, or refused to stop. Then the staff also get angry when I walk because of how long it takes me (so I’m often late), and because they want to be able to do paperwork. Which also annoys them each time the bus did let me on: they want me to pay and claim it back, and I am allegedly their only claimant with a disability bus pass, because my bus travel is free they can’t do paperwork. It’s crazy and I don’t have money for it anyway. While I am on the subject of buses, the cost of a local weekly bus travel ticket was £12 but is now £16 for kids and £20 for adults. That is if you do not qualify for bus passes. So people need to be earning much more than minimum wage, to a) make a job pay , b) break even, c) not be making a massive loss. But interns, people on workfare, and people on work programme, can be asked to get these and go to work daily, and may not even get a refund. If you are under 25 your dole is much lower than £71 per week. Last night I saw an ad for a ‘cheap room’ that is £85 per week not including bills. My HB has just gone up to £50 p/w after being £38 for years. Unfortunately my rent is £58 p/w. I’ve been trying to get a disability railcard and coachcard for years, this year also since January, with no success – I can’t get the vital documents off the DVLA. I never got offered an unemployed railcard, and wouldn’t get one now as on the dole for Ians (aeons= Ian Duncan Smiths=Donkey’s Years). Many years ago a guy dating my friend was sent on a forerunner of the work scheme, he had to attend daily and walk there and back, 26 miles of walking per day! AND he has learning difficulties and they made him walk along the motorway which is illegal.
    If they pull the few unemployed railcards issued, after only a few months, that would leave you in a worse position than before. Do they think that the day after it expires you will miraculously get a job? And a car?
    People commuting to jobs can pay thousands for season tickets, often more than somebody on the dole gets in a year. Is this what they expect people to do, like those forced out of London by the ‘cleansing’ of housing ‘reform’? If you make £10K you might spend half on travelling to your (shitty, probably) job, and most of the other half on your rent, probably at that level in bad accommodation. And that leaves a few hundred per year for your work clothes and everything else like bills, phone, kids… Oh, you selfish people: we got you a JOB and now you also want to EAT?? In the ‘hierarchy of needs’ they always put food at the top. In the economy, you often have to prioritise food right at the very bottom, paying for any food only after allocating money for everything else.

    ‘I hate IDS’ said: “They are supposed to pay for interview clothes and expenses as well, but you will be sent to Asda or Primark though so dont expect an Armani suit lol.”
    On work schemes and work programme I was told they wanted to make me do this. However, nothing sold at cheap or expensive readymade-clothes shops, fits. The one alteration service still open, has a minimum leg length of 25 inches. Mine is 20 inches. I can’t get children’s suits either (not that I could afford them) as they are too thin, and my spine curves so I have a big butt. The rest of me is extremely thin and a shirt marked XS is way too big and long. Sleeves are too long and wide. I found a specialist retailer but they want £800 for one basic suit. They are the only makers in the UK. I told this to all the providers, and eventually they accepted it. So they stopped trying to get me to get a suit. But I did get sent to dig holes and fill them in again for a month. They made me walk (before the start, to get clothes) a long way to an industrial estate; via a very rough housing estate that I’ve been attacked in several times. When I got to the clothing factory the people there blamed me for not being able to fit any of the PPE (personal protective equipment). I got the smallest UK-available size in everything and all of it was still huge, making it a health and safety hazard. The shoes gave me blisters and cut my feet so I bled every day, from before the start of my first day, until well after my last day. I didn’t heal for months. (A big problem as I am a runner). I had to alter the sleeves and trousers myself so the stuff was no longer waterproof. It was too heavy and was hot and sweaty or cold and sticky, all the time. I also had to carry heavy bags of boots and kit, walk all the way to the bus station (2 miles) then fast march to the work site (several more miles). Then when I arrived I was completely knackered, and expected to then dig with no food and no real toilet breaks, all day, they don’t care I’m sick and disabled. Then as the bus was leaving we had to run for the bus all the way from the farm to the village. Then walk home. I often had no supper either.

    R33 said: “Of course, because they can hardly afford to feed themselves and are increasingly relying on foodbanks just to eat, people on benefits won’t have the energy to walk long distances to all their appointments, interviews, and work(fare) placements, so they may faint in the streets on the way”
    This happens to me, passing out on the way there. We haven’t got a foodbank. How are you meant to get to places if in a wheelchair for example? I have ME/CFS, restricted growth, bad lungs, breathing problems, and other conditions. On bad days I’m not up to walking long distances. Without a phone I can’t call them and I’ve no money for a payphone (if there was one and if it worked), so they might think I’m skiving off. In the last few months, I’ve been in trouble several times at jobc*ntre-PUS and Work Programme; because my epilepsy and blackouts are getting much worse, and I’ve been late for or missed appointments because of major seizures or passing out. The ‘See You Next Tuesdays’ who run these places, are really thick, they sometimes say ‘prove it’ or ‘being unconscious is not an excuse’. The main proof I have is the disability bus pass, which I only got because my ‘repeated severe losses of consciousness’ and fits ban me from driving for life.
    One earlier time at working-stinks, they told me to tell the DVLA etc my condition had stopped so that the work scheme could get me driving lessons and test and licence! In other words they ordered me to lie and break the law, and were breaking the law themselves. Of course if I’d given in to their demands, my bus pass would be revoked.
    Possibly if you can’t walk or move you are supposed to use the hard shoulder of the motorway and crawl along pulling yourself by your head/chin/teeth/face. To paraphrase Orwell, ‘Slavery is Freedom’. Oh, I’ve just thought – what if you are attached to a hospital bed, frame, life support machine, dialysis machine, ventilator, oxygen, etc? Are you meant to drag it to work/workfare/JobC*ntrePUS with you? What if it needs a source of power? Should you also drag a portable generator (these weigh a lot) with it? The other week a guy sent to the wank-programme had his leg in a frame with pins. He was not meant to leave the house but Jobcentre Plus forced him to go to the work programme anyway, though he wasn’t supposed to move at all in case it messed up the leg healing. Wank Programme then said, you have one normal leg so we want you to become a builder, can you start next week?
    He’d just had surgery, left hospital, was on drugs, and couldn’t get dirt/infection in the leg. (comminuted fracture is when you break your leg into lots of little bits) The building job is also in asbestos removal. He wasn’t a builder! Let’s see, what is there on building sites? Dirt, mud, grease, e-coli, tetanus, asbestos fibres, lots of other nasties. Apparently it is okay to send sick people to get gangrene and lose their leg (or die).

    The stupid ‘travel for 90 minutes’ requirement in the Jobseekers Agreement (stretching the definition of Agree. THEY agree; YOU are just forced to sign.), is another inflexible blanket rule. I managed to get them to change it to ’60 minutes on a bus’. But now they have changed it back to ’90 minutes’ and they won’t change it back to ’60 minutes’. Due to nerve/spine and other problems, after going on a bus for an hour, I need the toilet. I usually go all day without drinking anything to reduce the risk, but that doesn’t help much. So if on a bus for longer than an hour, there can be PROBLEMS. Are they seriously saying I should get a job and go to work when there are often going to be ‘accidents’ on the way to work (in the only set of work clothes I’d be able to afford) and then that I’d be expected to work all day ‘like that’? Serving the public? Sitting in an office? Outdoors? (Don’t have washing facilities at home for clothes either). Luckily my major seizures don’t involve ‘accidents’ of that nature, but ‘accidents’ can happen at other times on their own. Compared to other people I have a very minor problem.
    Just read the questions on the ATOS assessment, for example.
    The worst case scenario would be conditions where the person, all day every day, has NO bladder and bowel control at all, and is doubly incontinent all day. But somehow, although ATOS (IF it agrees you have that condition) sees it as a reason to be excused from looking for work, the JCP disagrees! They don’t see continence as a factor in stopping you working or jobseeking. They also make you stand all day at the stupid machines doing the stupid jobsearch. (And most of the stuff on the machine doesn’t work and is wrong) They care if you are 15 seconds late (my latest warning) to sign on after your appointment start time. BUT they have done nothing over an (unnamed here, obviously!) alcoholic drug addict openly working while a)drinking plus b)on drugs plus c) signing on JSA as not working plus d) on £58 HB for a £41 room, while telling council he’s unemployed. They do nothing over their security guard who rants in the JCP about ‘faggots’, ‘pakis’, ‘niggers’ and ‘immigrants’. They do nothing about staff who lie or break the law when processing benefit claims for JSA applicants. They don’t put any chairs to sit down on, near the posters proclaiming disability equality! They often ignore people in the JCP who come in drunk/high, or who smoke inside, or who are verbally abusive. But if you are polite and say,
    ‘Excuse me, you have made a mistake on my form’, they call this verbally abusing them! They often spell your name wrong, refuse to correct it, send things addressed to it, then later try to blame you for spelling your own name wrong or for identity fraud/benefit fraud. Or for failing to get them to correct it. Last week lots of people on the phones at JCP got things sent to the wrong address and then got their benefit stopped, because the morons at JCP suddenly decided they’d moved house! Half a dozen spent from 9 to 5 calling, and over a whole day not one got the problem resolved.
    ‘Reasonable’ or ‘unreasonable’ for long walks should apply per individual. Some people are not up to even ‘short’ walks. Or could do it but are then too tired to shop, cook, or look after their kids.
    When Work Programme’s computers break, or when they ‘close for staff lunch and don’t come back’, they send you to walk another mile to the Jobcentre to continue this all-important JobSeeking Activity on the computers there. Then the Jobcentre staff say that you shouldn’t be there as it is not your signing day; they haven’t heard anything about it from work programme; you are ‘taking up time and space’ even if JCP is empty; etc. They try and get you to stop. Though at signing on they say you must go to JCP more than once a week! If they let you continue using the machines, it’s the same jobsearch you did just now at the work programme, and the same one you did 2 days earlier at JCP. With all the same jobs. I now have a bunch of jobs to apply for in Scotland in 2014! So possibly it might require a time machine. Because my benefit didn’t turn up on time, to paraphrase the ‘hut man’ from The Fast Show,
    “This week I have mostly been eating out of bins.” Yes you read that right. It is either ‘enterprising’ or ‘degenerate’, both Tory concepts.
    On Wednesday night I ate a cake I found in a bin and some crisps. Today I ate an orange I found in a bin. Well I don’t want scurvy do I?

    On the concept that the poor are thick: Well, (if I wanted to, which I don’t)
    I could do their (JCP/WP) job in my sleep. They tried to get me to go to job club ages ago. I refused because I don’t need a course in ‘how to write your own name’ and because it was run by the Scouts, a homophobic/jingoistic/monarchist/Christian etc. organisation. (But then I got sent to the Scouts on the Work Scheme later anyway. Update; they lost their contract and premises.) They tried to send me on basic skills but nobody would have me. They told me to go on a LearnDirect course. But LearnDirect said I was too intelligent and they would not accept me on any of their schemes. They sent me to Remploy. Remploy had nothing of high skilled work requiring intelligence, just manual unskilled jobs with no promotion or pay rise or progression/change. Then when they did the medical questionnaire and interview, Remploy said ‘you are too disabled for us so we can’t deal with you’. And a week later the JCP reiterated ‘you are ablebodied [lie], healthy [lie], and fit for work [lie].’ They sent me to Apprenticeships, who said ‘you are far too old’. They sent me to the careers centre (a building nobody in a wheelchair can even get into!). The careers centre said I was too old to be allowed there. When I’ve applied for jobs in disability organisations they say ‘you are too disabled to work here’. JCP said ‘surrender your bus pass as it will make you more employable’?! There are 52 weeks in a year. If I didn’t have my bus pass here is what it would cost to travel 5 days a week (the earlier pass I mentioned doesn’t cover weekends, early morning, or late evening), for a year: £1,040. There are 0 jobs, so I’m unlikely to get one. On the dole/HB (roughly £6,292/year) after paying rent (£2,760) and bills (£1,584): That leaves £1,948/year.
    Currently that is £162 per month or £37 per week. For ‘food and everything else’.
    If I had to do the bus travel deduction: That leaves £908/year: £75 per month; or £17 per week; ‘for food and everything else’. Surely it’s the JCP who either a) can’t do maths, or b) are so hardhearted they make the workhouse bosses in ‘Oliver Twist’ look like Mary Poppins.
    They are making me apply to be a Christmas Elf. It is hundreds of miles away, no accommodation, no expenses. I won’t get it. I hate Christmas, don’t like working with kids, can’t stand up all day… There is a job for Santas too, what if people forced to do it are people who harm kids?

    At Work programme they didn’t make me do tests on ability as they said I was too intelligent. But their only work is in construction and they are not sending me on it as I am too disabled. Then the jobcentre said I should be on a work placement by now. I said they only hire builders and I’m too disabled so they didn’t send me. They said I was lying. Then they said that I wasn’t attending work programme! I said I was. They keep lying I’m not. They said I wasn’t engaging with the programme. I said all I do is the same as everyone else, go on computers and do the exact same jobsearch I did with you two days earlier, until the computer breaks down and they send me here. Both want me to write down what I do for jobseeking activity. I do, then they say I put too much. So I write less and it is ‘not enough’. They are the thick ones: they send people to work programme when it is signing on, or vice-versa. And neither let you go to job fairs or job interviews on that day. Or they give you appointments at opposite ends of a city. Maybe they are secretly geniuses. They are discoverers of a new branch of physics. In which it is possible to be in two different places at the same time. And apply for jobs we didn’t know about in the past and future when they have closed or not come up yet, before the old ones close and after the future ones open. And possible to know about jobs by telepathy. And a new form of biology: in which it is possible to live without food, water, rest, shelter, money….

    If anyone should ‘Get On Your Bike’, it is the government. Preferably off Beachy Head. I apologise: poor bike. (poor cliff!)

    • Traffic Police Officer

      May I warn your readership that not only is it illegal to walk on the motorway (hard shoulder) it is also extremely stupid and dangerous for yourself and motorists. If we catch you doing this you will be arrested, charged and prosecuted! Thanks DS (Traffic Police)

      • Usual caring response from our caring Police (no wonder the Tories are after them to,serves them right for what you did to the miners,at Hillsborough,to the dockers,@Wapping etc,etc,etc, Normally I support ANYONE opposed to the government but you have asked for it!)

  19. I’m sorry you’ve had all that happen, sheer insanity. I’ve often thought to myself, they’re so desperate they think they can bend the laws of physics now and the laws of the universe – like you said, trying to get you to be in two places at once. Just feels like a set up. As for calling you, us, others a liar… they’re too lazy to check up on what you’re telling them. I was called a liar once. I was given a job to apply for, there was a phone number on the sheet and an address. To save money, I didn’t phone the place that had the vacancy, I looked up to see if they had a website and an email address on it. I emailed my CV to them. When the advisor asked if I had applied, I said yes, I emailed them. That’s when he got “funny”, he said the place didn’t have a website and doubted that I’d applied and called me a liar. He then went onto google, typed in the name of the place and bingo, a website came up for it. He didn’t even apologise. Some of those advisors just jump to a generic conclusion and treat you like you’ve committed some great wrong before they even check. They’re not very good at hiding the dark vibes and contempt they give off either.

  20. Just back from my fortnightly sign on – despite being extremely dizzy, probably due to my narcolepsy and cataplexy medication, I walked the two miles to the job centre in the falling snow. I have no thick or waterproof clothing or shoes so I was already soaked when I arrived. I did ask for a budget loan of £250 to buy winter clothing and shoes for my sons and I but that was refused twice. So I asked at the beginning of the year for the bus pass and was told it was only going to be given at the advisers discretion. Come on – these people do not get paid to exercise discretion they get paid to do their robotic work in our ever looming communistic economy.
    I have asked three times for the bus pass and only today because I complained and told them i am going to the press did they make an appointment, along with a myriad of excuses and apologies. Now I have to walk there again tomorrow to have an appointment with an adviser who has the authority to grant the bus pass. Given this scheme is only in place for the month of January I wonder why I am even bothering. I will go, though just to be able to validly make a point.
    My sons walk to college and back every day even this week in the snow. The classes finish at 6.30pm on a tuesday so they walked home in the dark, cold and snow and arrived home after 7pm. Since they are trying to get a good education instead of joining me and the other hundreds of thousand people on job seekers they are being detrimented. They are not entitled to the free bus pass. So I am expected to fork out the £30 weekly for bus fares – money i dont have. My heart breaks for them, they come in freezing cold and soaked to the bone, their shoes not even able to dry off properly by the next day. I can barely afford to make them a cooked meal to come in to and since the gas arrears resulted in having to have a meter installed, I am afraid to put the heating on for longer than it takes to warm up the water enough for us all to shower or bath.
    You know, I want a job, I have applied for heaven knows how many, I apply for at least five a week. Most dont have the decency to even respond, but others just send a ‘fu email’
    I am well qualified but unfortunately my education was done in a foreign country. Now I am not able to afford the cost of the authority to provide the certification of the UK equivalent. (a total of over £200) – so instead of helping, the job centre just continue to pay me – where is the logic – the discretion in that decision. They would rather have me redo all the education and training at ten times the cost – come on people.
    When the government hammer the job seekers with cuts and putting in stringent measures, they are targeting the wrong place.
    Why dont they look at the job centres – ours has almost 50 people visibly employed, and i use that term loosely. They have the heating on full blast that its actually uncomfortably hot in there. They have umpteen computers available but dont add that most are out of order or have no paper to print off applications.
    When I go in with my job diary they just put some odds and ends on my file and let me sign – i am already doing what I can to get work so they cannot do anything to help. So what the hell are they being paid for then?
    The job centres are just big white elephants, using up a whole whack of the budget allocated for the unemployed. Why are these centres not being targeted. They should be running like efficiently little recruitment centres. The staff should be paid minimum pay with incentives for placing job seekers into employment. That is how it should work. Why bother making people go sign every couple of weeks….. the ones who want work will look anyway. The ones who don’t won’t….. having so go sign once a fortnight is not going to change any of that.
    When I was overseas I was very proud of how my country looked after its people. Never did I envisage what was really happening. Now, I feel like the govenment is running the country like a communistic state, ensuring that they put as many people as they can into a position where they are dependent on the state to a large degree, Large enough to ensure that the government make the people feel they NEED the government to survive. When is some politician gonna have the balls to take this lot on for all its worth and make a real difference to peoples lives?
    Government should not be looking at how much they can save by cutting everyones pension, by making those barely living decently pay out money for council taxes and forcing them to rent out rooms to make ends meet. Housing and their planned policies – that is a story unto itself. We need a strong party to shake this up and sort it out. Stop focussing on how to nail those who have nothing and start focusing on how to create employment and how to fill the vacancies with the right people. I know this is long winded but i needed to vent while i dried off.

  21. United StereoTypes of Unemployment (U.S.T.U.)

    With the utmost respect, your children need to apply for Income support.

    If they don’t ‘meet the criteria’ then they should apply for JSA.

    It saves you £30 a week, £120 a month.

    It sounds like you need it and the children need to ease the pressure of being a parent.

    They have left school, time to grow. Work or dole. Can’t live off the parent(s) like in a Hollywood film.

    Tell them to prepare a ‘Variation of Jobseekers Agreement’ for the Secretary of State, c/o JobcentrePlus Manager.

    By doing this they can legally choose the times and days that they are availabe for work each week, on their Jobseeker Agreement.

  22. I work full time and on assessment of my wages and benefits I see that I am about £20 a week better off than a claimant… I party council tax, rent, my own fares and to work in a place where I get abuse from many of those wanting a free ride!!!! About time it was stopped… Stop more I say

  23. Been unemployed on and off since September 2009 where I was made redundant, had jobs didn’t work out, as I need local to me I live in village that doesn’t have decent buses no trains, so for me I need local, I cannot travel 90 mins away and I am being fussy I want an office job Mon – Fri never work weekends again, im currently locating and its harder than I thought interview after interview no reply no response, don’t drive so need to rely on buses, and now I have to go on a work programme an hour on a bus there and back for what I see a waste of time I constantly treat a day at my laptop jobhunting as a job, fab Cv great at interviews what the problem is is fierce competition im 40 and it seems younger people are actually getting jobs, even though I have 12 years office admin cosmetics manager experience, far from a lotto win this securing a job is not looking good..i can’t afford bus fares, food, luckily my debts are being paid a 1pound a month, but my contract phone needs paying as this was took out when I was working so can’t afford to get out of it, I need new glasses can’t afford them, since being made redundant I’ve been ill had gallstones had gallbladder removal, anxiety, but I plod on and remain positive, I won’t be tarred with being a scrounger, i try and try don’t sit watching tv, use my laptop spend most my money on internet, live on cereals as I can’t afford to eat.luckily I have an amazing brother who helps me along.but he ain’t a bank.

    Jobcentre near me are useless, hopefully one day they will be in my situation.

    • civil servant

      By ‘in my situation’ you mean EXACTLY the same conditions? Therefore they would have to make sure they could not drive, yet lived in a village… Then be a ‘victim’ of where they live?… Also they would have to refuse to work weekends, soooooo all those people who work in hospitals that you used, drive transport you moan about, you refuse to work as hard as them?

      What is your realistic solution to your ‘situation’… live on the dole because you don’t live close to work opportunities, do not manage your transport needs realistically and like to have Saturdays and sundays free? I think you need to adjust your expectations

      • civil servant

        Also, you say it is your age stopping you from getting work, but your grammar, spelling etc are atrocious…

        I set my own goals when I was unemployed, I didn’t blame the jobcentre because I see their role as tackling those who can’t or will not look for work… I can, did, got a job and if I lose mine,I know how to manage getting another one… Even if I end up working weekends, because to me, any job is better than claiming benefits… Never had a job that was 24 hours a day either, so taking ONE job does not stop you looking for another

  24. Going back to the original topic….Has anyone else actually managed to get the Travel Discount Card? I’m in London, Zone 5, and have got the Bus and Tram Card but most of my interviews are in central London so my only travel option is a train, which gets expensive. My adviser at the Job Centre didn’t seem to have heard of it. How have people managed to get one?

  25. The whole thing is farcical and something of a pantomime. It makes interesting discussion – advisers with no knowledge, and a system which lacks clarity in itself.

  26. dragonkeeperofthelostworld

    That Civil Servant is so rude

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  28. Employes are also suffering too much rates of daily tickets so i m requesting to you also need half ticket rates for employes

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