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Thread: What to do?

  1. #1
    Senior Member suffolkbobby's Avatar
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    What to do?

    First of all hello everyone from rural Suffolk

    Its been a journey for me these past few years.
    As a PCV/LGV driver, something I have been doing for 30+ years, I was diagnosed with cancer, I went back to work after the treatment ended.
    Cataracts in both eyes laid me off again so once those were sorted out I went back to work.
    In June I had a heart attack, laying me off for 5 months whilst I jumped through all the hoops to retain my licences, having succeeded I went back to work only to find that arthritis has hit my hips and aggravated an old spinal problem to the point where I now find mobility an issue. I had to resign from my job, I'm using a stick and getting physiotherapy treatment heading for hip replacement in the distant future.

    Advised to claim pip I had an interview last Friday (not holding my breath),
    Awarded ESA I have been told I need to attend the jobcentre to see a work coach with a view to returning to work.

    Now here's the problem. I cannot climb into a lorry, or into a coach and even if I did get into the driving seat, operating the clutch is a no go for me.
    I live in a one horse hamlet with no public transport and having been on SSP for months I can no longer afford to tax, insure or fuel my ancient manual gearbox car.

    At 61 all I have really done is drive, going through the job searches I have no idea what half the jobs are. Am I likely to have problems at this work coach interview? I'm climbing the walls stuck at home counting bricks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Hi suffolkbobby,

    So you have been awarded ESA Work Related Activities Group (WRAG) and have now been asked to the jobcentre for a Work Focused Interview (WFI), is that correct?
    Or are you still in the Assessment Phase of ESA and not been awarded a group yet?
    Or maybe you have been awarded ESA Support Group?

    The answer to that could tell us if this WFI is Mandatory (you have to go) or voluntary (you can refuse).
    It should also tell you this on the letter you got about the WFI.
    (It may say something like "If you fail to attend this may affect your benefits" which indicates you have to go).

    Assuming that you do have to go, or that you choose to go, then this first meeting will be mainly about the advisor (work coach) weighing up just what your capabilities are and what, if any, kind of work you may be able to manage.

    They will ask things like have you considered voluntary or part time work.
    They may ask what kind of jobs you would like to do now you cannot drive for a living.
    Or what jobs you would, or would not, consider.
    They will (probably) not give you anything specific to do, other than maybe get your CV up to date and perhaps look at what jobs may be available to you (which you say you are doing anyway).

    They CANNOT make you apply for jobs, go on work experience, do community work, or anything like that.

    If you have been awarded a group and its ESA WRAG then they can refer you to the Work Programme, which despite it's name is not work - for ESA claimants it is preparation for applying for work sometime in the future.
    Think of it as a training course to get you familiar with the current job market.

    New referals to the Work Programme are coming to an end this March, so it is possible that you may be refered to some other programme instead.
    There a few different ones being trialed in diffrent parts of the country.

    They should also take into account your circumstances and conditions when asking you to attend the Jobcentre (or the Work Programme or any alternative).
    If you live a long way from the jobcentre and transport is a problem then you may be able to ask for telephone interviews instead of trailing down to the jobcentre.
    The criteria for this is usually more than 90 minutes travel by public transport each way to the appointment. (or 4 hours total travelling time, eg. if you have to wait a long time after your interview before the next bus).
    Last edited by nukecad; 01-09-2017 at 04:48 PM.
    I'm intelligent enough to know that I don't know everything.
    But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.


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  3. #3
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    Personally, I wouldn't expect too much.

    The Work Coach
    Work Coaches are front-line DWP staff based in Jobcentres. Their main role is to support claimants into work by challenging, motivating, providing personalised advice and using knowledge of local labour markets. This involves conducting work-focused interviews and agreeing tailored “Claimant Commitments”. At February 2016, 11,000 whole-time equivalent Work Coaches supported nearly 745,000 out-of-work claimants across Great Britain. Each Work Coach is responsible for a caseload of around 100 unemployed claimants and conducts 10 to 20 claimant interviews per day.


    It will be very interesting to know the outcome, as transition from a lifetime of a particular employment area to something totally different at the age of 61 will be a challenge-and-a-half; especially if it's something you can't do or don't want to do.

    Good luck.

  4. #4
    Senior Member suffolkbobby's Avatar
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    Looking at the letter again it says "Your payments will not change if you decide not to come to the meeting"
    I think I will attend as who knows, there may just be something I can do that has never occurred to me.

  5. #5
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Thats fair enough then, it's a voluntary interview and you don't have to attend if you don't feel like it.

    It is always as well to go if you can manage it, for one thing it shows a willingness on your part to engage with them.
    Obviously no guarantees but if you show a bit of willingness then they tend to be less stroppy with you.

    You didn't say if you have been awarded a group yet?

    I'm guessing here but it sounds like this may be one of the new 'Health and Work Conversations', as a voluntary appointment.
    These are new and we only know a bit about them as yet, you can read more about what we do know here: http://www.youreable.com/forums/show...-Conversation?
    Last edited by nukecad; 01-10-2017 at 08:30 AM.
    I'm intelligent enough to know that I don't know everything.
    But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.


    Migration from ESA to Universal Credit- Click here.

  6. #6
    Senior Member suffolkbobby's Avatar
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    No indication of being awarded a group on any documentation I have received, only that I have been awarded ESA from 21/12/16.
    I have tried to contact them regarding help with costs in getting to the interview as stated in the letter on both the 0345 number (which goes into a constant recorded loop) and the direct local centre number (to which there is no answer).
    There are no bus services here, just an expensive rail service which would get me to the town with a long hike to and from the station.

  7. #7
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    That sounds like you are still in the Assessment Phase then.

    The 0345 number can take a long time to be answered by a person, typically you do the recorded voice "press number#..." bit then are put on hold listening to Vivaldi for ages with a voice coming in now and again to say "All our operators are currently busy..etc".

    Shortest I've been on hold like this is 8 minutes, longest was 40+ minutes.
    You could 'Hang up and try later" but you will probably be on hold for just as long again.

    TBH when you do get through to the 0345 number they will probably just tell you to contact the jobcentre where the appointment is at.
    I'm intelligent enough to know that I don't know everything.
    But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.


    Migration from ESA to Universal Credit- Click here.

  8. #8
    Senior Member suffolkbobby's Avatar
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    Finally managed to get through to the local office on the direct number supplied, I can get a full refund of my rail fare on production of the ticket so thats a help, however if I did get a job offer I'd be struggling to attend as my car is on its last legs, sadly I can't afford to repair or replace let alone continue to tax and insure it.

    The boredom is really setting in now, I'm sleeping in a lot more, having no motivation I'm counting bricks and getting a different answer each time.

    I was born two years too late to get a winter fuel allowance so in this cold spell, I've used up all my coal reserve and have to restock, its a choice of eat or heat. Now I can understand the real problems of living on a very low income.

  9. #9
    Senior Member nukecad's Avatar
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    Be aware that they will (probably) not refund your fare there and then.

    They used to do this, but changed the system a few years ago to avoid keeping large amounts of cash at the Jobcentres.
    Nowadays they make the refund to your bank, which they say takes 4 days but it can take up to a week.

    I doubt that they will be talking about looking for jobs yet, although they might.
    They certainly cannot make you apply for any jobs, do work experience, or any other kind of work.

    Remember that you have not been assessed yet so they don't even know which ESA group you will be in.
    They don't even know yet if you will eventually have to do any Work Related Activities or not.

    And of course as said above, your letter says this meeting is voluntary so you can decide not to go at all, you will not (cannot) be penalised for not going.
    Last edited by nukecad; 01-31-2017 at 03:57 PM.
    I'm intelligent enough to know that I don't know everything.
    But I'm good at searching for, and finding, stuff.


    Migration from ESA to Universal Credit- Click here.

  10. #10
    Senior Member suffolkbobby's Avatar
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    I called the JC and explained that as there was too much fortnight at the end of my money(appointment Wednesday.....payday Thursday) I did not have the money for the train fare, a very understanding lady rescheduled for a Friday on a pay week.

    I'm managing to maintain the home to an acceptable standard on the current income, we eat healthily and stay warm but being confined to the home I'm still bored to tears, to add insult to injury, I had to decline a school driving job offering money for old rope and a chance to get out on a run I used to do, I had to decline as I could not afford the fuel to drive to the vehicle's base and back twice a day... and even if I could, knowing the vehicle of old, albeit a small one in comparison to my usual mounts, I would be unable to climb into the cab.
    I've got to find something soon or risk losing my sanity.

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