Posted Tue 18 Oct 2011 04:02
Hi everyone, I just joined gingerbread and have read through many of lone parent's comments in regard to JSA staffs, and here is my experience with them in the job focus interview, which was, obviously not a good one.
I started claiming Income Support just before my son was born, so I never knew anything about the job focus interview until about a week before my son turned 5 months. From the sounded “helpful & polite” invitation letter informed me that if I have any specific requirement then I can ring up to make the necessary arrangement for me to be able to take part. So I did by firstly requested whether a home visit was a possible option as I was still breast-feeding my baby on a constant basis, of course I was refused. I was shock by a very rude reply and stating that if I was still in employment then I would have been on the statutory maternity leave at least for 6 months. So why this entitlement is not applied to all mothers regardless they are in employment or not? Then I was told this is the law that I must abide to in order to claim IS, but offered to arrange a private room to conduct the interview.
However, when I arrived with my son at the job centre, there was no such arrangement in place and I was simply pressurised to have the interview with the so-called personal advisor. After taking all the details regarding my current situation to see whether I was eligible for income support, then there she went on asking me when I will be looking for work. I simply gave my honest answer that I am not planning to go back to work until my son at least 1 year old or perhaps a bit longer depending on circumstances. Then she told me that there are plenty of mothers in employment with young children and why I should be the exception. I replied that I had always worked until my last job was terminated by its contract and no employer would employ a 6-month pregnant woman, and mother with young children decide going back to work are their choices and decisions but that does not reflect my decision should be based on theirs. At this point, my personal advisor was obviously not happy with my replies as these were not what she expected to hear, so she just bluntly informed me that the current law might change soon and I would not be able to claim IS or my benefit would be cut when my child turns 5. I just clearly reminded her that my son was only 5-month-old, and asked her kindly to inform me when the new legislation is in force that mothers should be put on JSA when her child is over 5 month, then I will see to it.
Before the interview ended, I was offered the option to ask any question, therefore, I enquired about what income threshold was, which might affect my benefits, and then I received such answer “this is your job to find it out yourself!” Great! This was so “helpful”! Thus I asked what kind of personal advisor she was and what she actually could advise me on, and also what was the purpose of this interview being so important. Then out of blue, I was branded as “being aggressive” as I was simply asking questions in a well-polite manner. It was completely incomprehensive!
Therefore, I would like to make a formal complaint against such unhelpful personal advisor, whom was merely intimidating her client and showed incompetent in her profession by providing useless (or no) information.
So anyone out there knows what the complaint procedures are with the job centre? Also, I believe whoever have been treated without respect and have been misinformed by your personal advisor, we all should make the complaints in writing and show our will to flight such injustices as we all live in a democratic country where everyone is equal, thus should be equally respected regardless your circumstances.