Wednesday, 9 January 2019

I, Daniel Blake

This is a sporadic blog, that I use if I am going to post about something that makes me annoyed or irate. I try not to get annoyed but sometimes things do get a bit out of hand.

I was wondering whether I would be able to watch "I, Daniel Blake", the Ken Loach film as I had heard that it was heavy going. It won awards at Cannes and last night I finally took the plunge. I did watch it all and wasn't traumatised but it was a perfect illustration of the fact that most people are good moral people but there are bullies and cowards who hide behind rules to take advantage of those that are vulnerable.

The film illustrates this and there are a lot of lows and people who you want to punch but a few highs as well.

The thing is the more helpless the person seems the more aggressive the bullies become. Bullies only thrive with easy targets. I've been bullied a few times at work but luckily I was sensible and got out when I realised the bullies were being backed by the companies.

Around the Millenium I got made redundant for the first time ever, and of course decided not to sign on. Then I realised that the JSA may come in handy and went and signed on. I was owed around four hundred pounds in JSA , and when I kept asking when it would be paid they said "just borrow it off someone". Aye the bank will give me an overdraft I'm sure.

Then one day day I went in and the Job Centre person told me I wasn't entitled to anything. When I asked, the reason given was "Because the computer said so". I spoke to a supervisor who took great delight in telling me that I would get nothing because I didn't sign on the day I  got made redundant. I was seething and went home and did a bit of research.

I found a document that said I would be entitled to JSA if I had signed on for 50 out of 51 weeks in the previous two financial years OR I had paid National Insurance on £4.5K of earning in each Financial Year. I printed of the document, took copies of my final payslips for each year and went back to the Job Centre. It turned out HMRC had got it wrong, despite them taking my contributions they didn't have me down on their system. Go figure.

The person I spoke to was completely unaware of the rules and asked if he could have the document, as well as agreeing that I was entitled to JSA.I then spoke to the supervisor who seemed to be fuming but said nothing. No Apology. When I got home ten minutes later the money was in my account.

One time when I went to sign on I was kept waiting forty minutes by the person I was meant to see. If that happens the other way round these days it's a reason the Sanction someone and stop their benefits.

I was lucky because I had the tools to fight my corner, but a lot of people don't and this government prioritises getting people off benefits not getting them into paying work.

Another thing is when I was unemployed it was under a Labour Government, and one of the people I saw tried to make take a job on £8K a year which would have needed me to buy and run a car. I refused, but these days that could lead to being sanctioned. The same person told me that I would probably never work again as I don't have a degree.

Since I was unemployed the situation has definitely got worse, and  "I, Daniel Blake" illustrates that perfectly. I do hope we can fix our country and help those that need help.

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