Last Wednesday, I did something I hate with a passion I usually reserve for marmite or Mirror of her Dreams, and I resigned myself to the beige inevitablity of registering as unemployed with the Department of Work and Pensions, part of a process which would allow me to claim, to coin a phrase, on my National Insurance.
I hate this, not out of any misguided visions of a socialist or nanny state, but because the entire process is designed to destroy all the last vestiges of positivism that may be lodging in a dark corner of my soul. Also because I fundamentally disagree with one aspect of the benefits system, which is this: If you are living with your partner, the jobseekers allowance claim is joint. No matter whether they’re in work, a full time student, or whatever. Not only do I have to dig though all *my* documentation and history, bank accounts, debts (yes) and creditors (no. Well…), but I also need to get in all the details for her. Hate. (The form. The process. The assumptions. Not, I feel the need to clarify, the partner).
Filling in the form took hours, although it helped that I could do it all online at direct.gov.uk. There was a lot of backtracking (That counts as an income, doesn’t it. Oh, crap. There’s a separate box for it three pages on), and quite a bit I’m not entirely sure on (I own a company, although it doesn’t have any money and it’s not giving me any, which isn’t really employment, is it? Where does that go on the form?) and then the site crashed. Fortunately I could resume from where I was.
A day or two later I got a text message saying I had an appointment to do my claim, and that we both had to turn up and bring all required documents. First, didn’t say which documents. Second, I was booked to go to a job appointment then. Third, SMS is not guaranteed delivery. If you are sending required, unrepeated, unduplicated information over SMS you are doing it wrong. So I phoned to reschedule, and was put though to a line which rang for ages then cut me off, and did so repeatedly.
So today, I went to visit the Job Centre for my appointment. Since I now have a job (I start work for Zappit on Wednesday), this was purely to stop the application process.
“Hi, I’ve got an appointment in about half an hour for a new claim, but I’ve just got a job. What do I do next?”
(Pause. Shuffle shuffle. Think. Aha)
“Come with me.” says the reception at the Job Centre, and makes it someone elses problem with astounding haste and certainty.
The someone else (whose lunch I interrupted, unfortunately) deleted my claim outright. So either I’m safe and everything’s fixed, and I don’t have to go though the rest of the process, or I’m stuck with no claim and also a background check in progress.
What could possibly go wrong?