Yesterday, I was very proud of myself.
I’ve tidied my room, I know where everything is, and I’ve closed an A4 ringbinder as it was full, and started an A4 lever arch file on my shiny new life of employment. Well I’m unemployed at the moment, but more optimistic about actually finding someone who wants to employ me in a job that doesn’t make me want to kill myself.
Today, desperate to piss all over that dream, I get a letter from Jobcentre Plus.
Here it is.
Obviously I’ve removed any of my secret details, lest anyone should steal my incredibly boring identity.
They want it back within 7 days of the date of their letter, yet their letter is dated Tuesday. As it’s now Thursday, that’s 3 days gone already, if I fill it out and send it back today.
I can’t help thinking that seems slightly unfair, but I’ll attempt to let it go.
Clearly I’ve not done very well at that, as I’ve written this blog post about it.
“I have detailed the answers to your question on a separate sheet, which I have also signed.”
Frankly, I’m a little fed up of answering this question.
During my initial call about claiming benefits back in November-December, I told them over the phone I lived in a shared house. I was told by the second-nicest person I’ve spoken to so far, that unless we were related, a family, or I was married to one of them or something, it didn’t matter.
Even if they pay me for electricity and I pay the electricity bill from my bank account – nobody cares.
It’s only a shared house, after all. Pretty common in modern city life really.
I’ve had varying answers to this since. Claiming both housing benefit and Jobseekers Allowance results in them collating different information, and they treat things in different ways.
At a jobseekers interview, on the 16th April, I was told I had to list all the people living with me, and if they gave me any money.
I’m sure I’ve done this before. I remember writing some figures into boxes, and listing that one housemate owed me money for back electricity.
So this, is what I wrote in my separate letter (recreating their form partially in the process), and sent this morning in answer to their questions (names and some places changed to protect the innocent. Amounts of money removed):
My answer to your question (which I have already notified both you and the benefits office of several times), is too complicated to fit into the small boxes you have provided me with.
As such, I’ve decided to write you this separate document instead.
I hope this satisfies you.
My name: Ben Park
My National Insurance number: xxxxxxxx
1. Who makes the voluntary payment?
– Derek, for his son Jim.
– Reginald (not as regularly as I’d like)
– after 1st May – Betty (prior to 1st May, this was Arthur)
2. What is their relationship to you? (if only you knew how many times I’d answered this fucking question)
None of these people are any relationship to me. I am not related to any of them. They are people who live within the same 4 walls. We don’t share food or bodily fluids. I don’t have children with any of them, nor intend to have children with them.
3. (and 4, 5, and 6 combined)
Every month, I receive around £xx from a man in Columbia called Derek, via Western Union money transfer.
He is the dad of one of my housemates – Jim.
This money covers Jim’s electricity/gas (which I pay on behalf of the house), and his council tax. I DON’T pay his council tax. The council tax is paid by my housemate Edna. I pay around £xx per month to her, on Jim’s behalf. She then pays this.
This was originally set up because Jim’s dad has to pay a fee for every payment transferred, so doesn’t want to pay everyone in the house separately.
Frankly with the hassle it’s caused me, I wish I’d never agreed to it.
Every month, I receive around £xx from Edna. This is to cover her electricity/gas for the month.
Every month, I was receiving around £xx from Arthur to cover his electricity/gas for the month. He moved out of my house on the 30th April, and has been replaced by Betty. She has not paid me anything yet, but will be paying me the same around-£xx that Arthur paid.
Every month, I should receive around £xx from Reginald. He lives in my house, and owes me for the electricity/gas. He has got behind with his payments, and currently owes me (I believe) somewhere in the region of £xx. He has no plans to move out, and is attempting to repay me in stages. I will be hassling him again about this shortly.
I pay (currently) around £xxx per month to Wankergen for providing our electricity and gas. This is on a monthly payment plan that averages over the year, but could rise or fall at any point. The occupants in my house (4 excluding me) give me 1/5th of this, each month.
All of the money I receive each month, goes to Wankergen for electricity/gas, or Edna for council tax. None of it is kept by me.
7. Are you expected to repay the money?
Edna pays for the council tax for our entire house. (Currently) around £xx, per person in the house, per month. £xx of what I receive from Jim’s dad, I give to Edna for his share. I also give her £xx for my own share.
So, just to clarify again:
– This money comes to me, and goes to either Wankergen or Edna for my/Jim’s share of the council tax bill she pays.
– NONE of these people are related to me. If I got in debt, they wouldn’t help me out. They live under the same roof because none of us can afford the £1000+ per month rent on our own. We don’t eat together. None of them help with my current situation.
If I’m unable to pay my rent, buy food, or do anything else because the DWP/Jobcentre keep asking me to fill out more forms about things I’ve already told them, thus delaying my payments, they won’t help me in the slightest.
I will repeat your own declaration here, for your own procedures.
– I understand
That if I give information that is incorrect or incomplete, action may be taken against me.
– I declare
That the information I have given here is correct and complete.
And signed and dated, as per their original form.
I think purely on a style basis, they’d give me some good points for my sarcastic rant at the end of question 7.
The anticipation of what pure joy they will send me next, is killing me.