- I missed an appointment. When I challenged this, it turned out the appointment had been 3 years ago, and I’d attended.
- They asked me to provide a timetable of my (part-time) studies. When I did they asked me for a ‘learning agreement’, which my uni does not have. My tutor personally wrote a letter explaining the course, and how much time it took up in my life. They then said they couldn’t comment on the letter for two weeks.
When the two weeks were up, they said they needed the letter stamped by the uni. But wouldn’t give me the original copy back. For another two weeks they ‘couldn’t comment’ on whether the new letter was suitable. Two weeks later, they said it wasn’t.
They asked for a form (number Erieajflksjdlkajfla or whatever). No one at the job centre knew what this form was. I spent an entire week walking to the job centre (despite being disabled, because I couldn’t afford the bus), spending at least two hours there arguing with staff about the form, and then walking home again.
When I pointed out I had been without money for over a month, and couldn’t afford travel or food, they offered me food vouchers to a foodbank that was even further away than the job centre. When they finally agreed that the form didn’t exist, had never existed, and that I didn’t need it anyway, they asked for another letter from my uni. Which they then faxed to a wrong number. When I mailed it by post, they said they hadn’t received it.
By this time I was leaving for uni two hours early so that I could walk and rest along the way. I was shoplifting food, and not really leaving the house unless it was to argue with the job centre, or go to uni. During all this I had to apply for approximately 5 jobs a day, and log them on the jobcentre’s website. I also had to sign on at the job centre. At first this was every two weeks, then every week, then for a while every day at a different time each day. I wasn’t told the time of my daily appointments until 24 hours before. At one point I broke down in tears saying it felt like punishment. My job advisor refused to look at me and sighed until I stopped crying.
When the staff at the job centre decided they would no longer talk to me, with one shouting “I’m not talking to THAT WOMAN” the minute I entered the building, I began calling the DWP every day. It cost 15p a minute. Sometimes I was on hold for 40 minutes or more. Often I would start the call in tears, as an ‘advisor’ asked me to provide ‘evidence’ I had already provided multiple times. As the call progressed I would become angry, then irate, and it would generally end with me screaming about how I had no money, and then they would hang up on me.
Inexplicably after 3 months I got my benefits paid, and back paid. I used it to pay my friends back, and to fill my food cupboards in case this happened again.
- They said they ‘forgot’.
- Someone reported me to the benefits advice tips line, saying I had a trust fund, and a ‘lucrative’ part time job. During the time my money was stopped I was so depressed that all I ate was a piece of ryvita a day. When I spoke to the team to prove I did not have a trust fund or lucrative part time job, I was so nervous I couldn’t stand up without nearly fainting.
- The website that the jobcentre required me to update with my job applications and searching, went down, and deleted all that week’s entries. When my job advisor logged in to check my account she said I hadn’t done any work and so she was going to sanction me. I began crying hysterically, and she told me to come in for daily sign ons for a week. Again I said this sounded like punishment. She said it was clear I needed ‘more supervision to get back into employment’.
The next day I came in to sign on, she pulled up my job log on the website, and the last two week’s entries had all reappeared. I asked if she could take me off the sanction. She declined. For two weeks I came in for daily sign ons, to ‘support’ me. All that happened was I waited 30 mins in silence on a sofa, then signed an electric tablet and left.
I was told I could appeal my sanction, but the paperwork came through so late that by the time I had enough evidence collected, the date to appeal had passed.
- Despite me changing my address with them 6 months before, and receiving paperwork at my new address confirming the change, they sent a letter for an appointment to my old address. When I missed this appointment they cut off my benefits, and housing benefits. I was late with my rent. It took 3 weeks to get my benefits back.
- I went to a medical assessment, while suffering from an incredibly bad mental health episode, and recovering from major surgery. When I talked about my suicidal ideations/intrusive thoughts the assessor asked me to tell her the methods I would use to kill myself, in detail. Six weeks later she awarded me no points, and all my benefits were cut off.
- My job advisor forgot to press the button that confirmed I had attended my sign on appointment, and which triggered my payments. On three separate occasions.
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