As you know, if you are on Jobseeker’s Allowance and you refuse what the Jobcentre calls a reasonable job offer then you get a sanction. To get around this, I have written a letter called Brighton. You will find a copy of it at the end of this email. Using it has allowed me to openly refuse these so-called reasonable job offers without being punished. The more people who know about it the better.
The purpose of Brighton is threefold. First of all, to prevent the Jobcentre from forcing people into taking low paid or unsuitable work. Secondly, to give people who may not be ready to return to work just yet, a breathing space. And thirdly, to undermine the new Work Programme and give it’s grasping providers a massive headache. In short, it is for anyone who wants to actively resist being bullied by the Jobcentre.
Here is how it works. When I sign on, the Jobcentre try and force me to apply for jobs that are at locations I can’t get to on time unless you have your own transport. Or they try and force me to apply for jobs where I don’t have the relevant qualifications or experience. When I protest, they tell me that if I don’t apply for them then it could affect my claim. To keep them sweet, I apply for these jobs. At the same time I send these companies a copy of Brighton.
It works beautifully. If the Jobcentre say anything to me, I just say I didn’t know what they’re on about. Well, there’s no law against scratching your nose is there. They are hopping mad but there’s not a damn thing they can do about it. And at the end of the day, I don’t see why anyone should be forced into taking a shit job just so that this government can pat itself on the back, point to low levels of unemployment and say what a great job they’re doing.
Iain Duncan Smith believes that however demeaning or low paid a job is, people should take these jobs rather than receive benefits. I disagree. Forcing people to take a low paid job just to help this mountebank pay off a debt caused by his millionaire banker chums and his embezzling, house-flipping colleagues isn’t just unacceptable; it’s morally repugnant as well. Duncan Smith’s pronouncements also reveal something far more disturbing: he actually believes he is a force for good in this country. Well, if he believes that these jobs are so nourishing for the soul then why an earth doesn’t he do one of them himself.
What politicians fail to realise is that people remain unemployed for a reason. Well I say fail to realise, I think they realise only too well. Only it doesn’t quite fit into their worldview of how they think things should be perceived according to them. People do actually remain unemployed for a variety of reasons. They may be caught in a benefits trap; they may have been wrongly forced off incapacity benefit or suffering from depression; they may be caring for an elderly relative; or shock-horror, they may not actually want to do the job that they’ve been bullied into applying for.
I’m sorely tempted to send Brighton to Duncan Smith and Grayling just to rub their noses in it; but I don’t want to let the cat out of the bag just yet.
I read an article in the newspaper yesterday that said 177,000 people on Jobseeker’s Allowance were sanctioned because they had refused a so-called reasonable job offer. Consequently, as a matter of urgency, I would like you to circulate Brighton as widely as you can. The more people who know about it the better. Its simplicity makes it the perfect weapon to fight the Jobcentre and Duncan Smith’s work programme.
The Black Fingernail
Dear Sir or Madam
I am writing to you in connection with the above vacancy, which is being advertised in the Jobcentre.
Because you have chosen to advertise this vacancy through the Jobcentre, a number of unemployed and formerly long-term sick people are going to be forced by the Jobcentre into applying for this vacancy under threat of having their benefits stopped if they refuse. They will be advised to phone you to arrange an interview or ask if they can send you a CV/written application.
The Jobcentre can force the unemployed to apply for any vacancy advertised through them, regardless of their suitability for that vacancy. The unemployed are forbidden from disclosing that they have been told to apply for a vacancy; and nor can they refuse an offer of a job either.
People who are forced into taking a job under threat of having their benefits stopped if they refuse will almost certainly harbour a great deal of anger and resentment. If you employ such a person then that anger could drive them into carrying out wanton acts of vandalism to your company running into thousands of pounds. Your fixtures and fittings could be damaged, for example. Fire alarms could go off repeatedly. Sickness may prevent them from doing a full week’s work. And that’s just for starters.
Before you go getting your knickers in a twist, just be aware that people who remain unemployed do so for a variety of reasons. They may be caught in a benefits trap; they may have been wrongly forced off incapacity benefit; or they may be caring for an elderly relative. The Jobcentre also have what they call a ninety-minute rule. This means that if a vacancy is do-able by public transport within ninety minutes (an-hour-and-a half) from where the unemployed live then they have to apply for that vacancy.
To indicate to you that they do not want this job and that they only applied for it under threat of having their benefits stopped if they refused; they will scratch their noses. And it will be done in such a way as to leave you under no illusions as to where they are coming from.
Should you choose to ignore this then you will have yourself the employee from hell; and all that it entails.