Well at the very least I’m not very happy; in fact I’m quite worried. Being the family thicky I’ve been slowly ploughing my way through the recently published coalition white paper “Universal Credit: Welfare that works” (apologies for being a slow reader). I quite horrified at some of the plans that IDS (sounds like a stomach condition) has laid out, one in particular leaps out off the page at me. I’m all for looking for a job (been there, doing it, wearing the T-shirt) and in this present financial climate and pending cuts in the public sector, jobs are a bit thin on the ground. I’m all for applying for jobs (my CV and countless application forms line many a waste paper basket) and I’m all for job interviews (I’m there already!) …but …here’s the big but…your average DWP employee who’s sitting there advising you on jobs that you could apply for is not trained in how complex neurological conditions and co-morbidities could effect the choice of job you choose to apply for. I have had some very interesting suggestions put forward to me including part-time work (they should know full well that I would need to work at least 35 hours week to make ends meet). Would turning down these inappropriate roles warrant a sanction? (Losing JSA payments for up to 4 weeks) I have found it hard to articulate to the advisors at my local job centre what I can and can’t do, it’s quite obvious to the lay person that I have TS, it’s quite obvious to the jobcentre advisors that I have turned up to sign on. (“We have a customer service job that you might like,” - I wouldn’t mind a call centre, but would they mind me?) And that’s just trying to tell them about the more obvious problems I might face, I haven’t started on the other problems such as my very short attention span, memory problems, poor organisational skills etc, etc…… They say in the white paper “advisors will ensure that the requirements they place on a recipient are reasonable for that person, taking into account their particular capabilities and circumstances.” I sincerely hope that they do, I would hate to lose my JSA because someone didn’t take on board what I’ve told them about my TS.
These sanctions are quite scary – 4 weeks without JSA! What about the “safety net”? I hear you ask….here it is hardship payments will be replaced by loans! ….and how do you go about paying back these loans…well, it’s not their problem. I feel a crime wave coming on.
There’s more in this white paper so please watch this space and please, please, please tell me what you think about these plans and how it will affect you as I’d love to include your points of view in my “official” response for Tourettes Action.