Archive for August, 2009

Happy Birthday to you,

August 29, 2009

Happy birthday to you,

Happy birthday to…..MICHAEL JACKSON

Happy birthday to you.

Wherever you are.


Jobseeker’s Allowance – Learning lessons?

August 27, 2009

This morning, I received a letter from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Apparently, they have commissioned a independent research agency IFF into Jobseekers Allowance. According to the letter, the aim of the study is to “talk to people about their experience of claimin Jobseeker’s Allowance and about whether they think Jobcentre Plus is meeting their needs”.

Perhaps the DWP have cottoned to the fact that Jobcentre Plus needs to be improved. Anyway, I am looking forward to my 15 minute telephone interview next week – possibly the only time I will be happy to talk to a market researcher.

Al-Megrahi – what a name!

August 22, 2009

I think that the most important issue is being forgotton amongst all the controversy regarding the release of Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

Does he not have the best sounding name in the world?

It’s so smooth, it rolls of the tongue like a Malteser, plus it is possibly the longest name that journalists have to say when reporting the news. Whatever he may or may not have done, his name is certainly poetic.

The second best name in the world surely belongs Abdullah Abdullah, one of the presidential candidates in the 2009 Afgan elections. What were his parents thinking? Perhaps, “Abdullah – so good we have to say it twice”. It is certainly a lot easier to remember one name instead of two.

Barack Obama – not that radical

August 17, 2009

So I may be jumping on the bandwagon here, but I have got a bit fed up with seeing accusations that the US Government is planning a communist style takeover, starting with a nationalised heath service and death panels. (How are sales of George Orwell’s 1984 doing by the way.)

So I decided to check out for myself the H.R.3200, aka America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009, the proposed bill that is currently in front of Congress.

Having looked through a substantial part of the bill, I am virtually certain that Barack Obama is not planning a sytem based on the Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) model. All he is doing is ensuring that everyone has access to affordable health insurance, either from the private sector or public sector. Certainly, no death panels in sight. It’s not as radical as the Republicans think.

Unemployed and actively seeking work?

August 17, 2009

I think I’ll have to first speak to Jobseekers Direct on a hypothetical basis, telling them that I am thinking about going back to university in October and find out if and when I would have to sign off. They will presumably make a note of my enquiry on the system (or at least they ought to).

Based on what they advise me, I will then approach either the Job Centre Plus personal adviser or the consultant at Employer Engagement on a hypothetical or actual basis.

I hope this isn’t dishonest – obviously I would value a second opinion. Should I take this hypothetical approach or just be upfront about it?

(I know that I will have to sign off my claim at the end of September. The issue is whether I can still continue claiming between now and then if I continue to apply for jobs and go for interviews and be prepared to take up any work before the end of September, with a view to leaving the job when the course starts.)

Vote ‘No’ to Assisted Suicide

August 14, 2009

New Deal for Graduates

August 14, 2009

I met up with the consultant from Employer Engagement for a practice interview. She gave some positive feedback and I found out more about what was involved in New Deal for Graduates.

There is a work placement of up to 24 hours a week but, since I am already volunteering of my own accord, they have no problem with using that as the work placement. Once every two weeks, I meet up with the consultant and there are exercises to do at home. Essentially, this is something that I can live with – no major difference to my “job hunting”, continue volunteering and no pointless courses.

Oh, I also learnt that I receive Job Seekers Allowance as well as the Training Allowance. I clarified this with the personal adviser at the job centre. He confirmed that even though the main part of the programme is a work placement, it is still considered a course, so a training allowance is given as well.

Employer Engagement are based in Brighton, so when they come up to South London, they use an room in the offices of Career Development Group (CDG). So I have had the opportunity to observe another New Deal programme. This is what I saw – people coming and going as they please, people sitting round and chatting, very little job search and token classes. In fact, it seemed very much like a student common room than the offices of a “welfare to work” provider.

When I was doing the two week gateway course, A4E were a little bit more disciplined but is was effectively the same sort of atmosphere. Employer Engagement aside, if this is what welfare to work is all about, then the government really needs to reconsider its policy.

For your perusal…New Deal For Graduates

August 11, 2009

Hey! I have talked about New Deal for Graduates (or New Deal for Professionals and Managers to give it its proper title) and I thought you might be interested to actually see the workbook which claimants are supposed to complete within the 13 weeks. (Apologies for some of the answers being completed.)

There are almost 100 pages but it would great if you could provide any feedback about the workbook.

Just the tip of the iceberg…

August 10, 2009

And I got into an argument with A4E for the sheer pointlessness of their two week gateway course and their refusal to allow me to do extra volunteering. That’s nothing compared to internet censorship, benefit fraud and profiting from the Israeli occupation of Palestine. Lowsaltfoods supports the battle against A4E.

Benefit Busters

August 8, 2009

Word up! There’s a documentary series starting Channel 4 on 20 August about the government’s welfare to work programme, featuring everyone’s favourite New Deal provider Action for Employment.