Iain Duncan Smith, planner extraordinaire, aims to have the majority of Universal Credit claims made online. Here’s an example of someone who will be completely excluded from claiming because of that:
A couple of weeks ago, I posted an article about Eddie (name changed) and the problems that he was having with his online jobsearch. I’ve met twice with Eddie since then.
Eddie is a 51-year-old Kilburn man who has mild learning difficulties. He struggles to read and write. At the moment, he signs on for jobseeker’s allowance. He has worked for most of his life as a catering assistant in hotels, pubs and in kitchens, but was made redundant about four years ago. He has been unemployed ever since. He is very keen to get another job, but has not been able to find one. He wants someone to help liaise with potential employers on his behalf – to ring people who take staff on, put him forward as a candidate, promote him and his work history and to talk through any problems that employers may have with his literacy difficulties. Eddie has taken CVs into businesses all over Kilburn. He never gets called back.
The upshot of all of this is that Eddie must go to the jobcentre every fortnight to sign on and to show that he’s searched for at least 14 jobs. This post will show you how difficult and pointless this jobsearch exercise is for him. One of Eddie’s main problems is his struggle to read and write. He can write letters out if people tell him which ones to choose (for example, he asked me how to spell “Customer Service Advisor” when applying for one job, then wrote it as I spelled it out), but has trouble with more complex words. He also finds computers challenging. He doesn’t have a computer at home, which means that he rarely uses one. He wasn’t sure what a browser was when I took my laptop around to his flat to help him with his jobsearch (you’ll see some of this in the videos below).
Nonetheless, a couple of weeks ago, Eddie’s jobcentre adviser instructed him to choose and apply for at least three jobs online as part of his fortnightly quota. He was given this sheet of paper – you’ll see that it lists job ads and links…