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I WAS Just Fine, Thanks

, , , , | Working | March 29, 2022

Because of my history of mental health problems, I’m on disability benefits. I work part-time for a local mental health charity, usually about twelve hours a week. I get a text message from the Department of Work and Pensions telling me I have a jobseeker’s appointment scheduled and must attend. I talk to the online Universal Credit Journal to get clarification since this shouldn’t be necessary.

Me: “I got a text saying I have an appointment on [date]. I am not available that day and am not supposed to need appointments as I have limited capacity to work.”

Employee: “Failure to attend can cause a delay or suspension to your benefits.”

Me: “I cannot attend that date; you’ll have to reschedule. Also, I would prefer a telephone appointment.”

Days go past with no further replies, and the appointment is only a few days away. Several years earlier, I was too ill to attend an appointment and the DWP cut off my benefits. I eventually won a tribunal appeal and had my benefits reinstated, but it was a lot of stress and took over two years before I received the back pay owed. Obviously, I’m not keen to go through that again.

Me: “Please note that I have given plenty of advance notice that I cannot attend on [date]. This is not a failure to attend. I am not a jobseeker. I am not seeking employment. I have been told by doctors and psychiatrists not to seek further or alternative employment. I am able to work part-time at [Local Charity] as they specialise in working with those suffering from mental health issues and are uniquely able to support an employee who does. This has all been made clear to the DWP multiple times. Given that the DWP has been responsible for several of my mental health problems in the last fifteen to twenty years, I would prefer not to visit the job centre as it is highly likely to result in an anxiety attack. We are also in the middle of an extremely serious health crisis, in case you weren’t aware. Please acknowledge receipt and understanding of this message, and if an interview is needed, contact me to arrange a telephone appointment.”

I eventually get a reply saying simply:

Employee: “I will phone you on [alternative date].”

I have a lot of stress and anxiety about this. Finally, the appointment comes.

Employee: “Hi. We just wanted to check you were all right since we haven’t had any recent contact. That’s all, bye.”

All that stress and messing about and making me ill just to check if I’m okay? Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the Department of Wankers and Pillocks.

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