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Job Seekers Allowance Survival Guide
intro l leaving work & signing on l active signing l job refusal l feedback/help


Restart interviews
Voluntary schemes
Compulsory schemes
Case loading
Job Plan Workshops
Restart courses

From now on most people will get a full Employment Service Interview after 13 weeks. After that you will get a Restart at 26 weeks (6 months on the dole) and then every six months after that.

If you ignore a written notice to attend, your claim will be stopped (and you'll be off the unemployed register) from that date, unless you turn up at the Job Centre within 5 working days and show "good cause" for not attending.

At each Restart you may have to fill in a form (like the old UB671R). This has much the same questions as the "Helping You Back to Work Form" - see THE QUESTIONS.

During a Restart they'll look at what you've been doing to find work - that shouldn't be a problem if you've kept your job seeking diary up to date. Restarts will also give them the opportunity to review your Job Seekers Agreement. Remember any changes have to be agreed by you (see above). Under the old system they would try to persuade you to go on a voluntary scheme. Now they may well just issue a Job Seekers Direction that you've got to go on one. See DIRECTIONS and SCHEMES. If you refuse to go on a "voluntary" scheme at your second Restart (12 months) they can refer you to one or other of the Compulsory Schemes (see below).

If you agree to do something at a Restart (rather than being ordered to do it) and they find out you didn't do it - you may be called back for a follow-up interview and your Availability / Actively Seeking Work questioned.

Remember - you have the right to have someone with you at an Employment Service Interview / Restart for support or advice - if you want you also have the right to appeal against any decision they make.



Job Search Plus; Job Review Workshops; Job Clubs

You don't have to take part in any of these schemes unless you have been ordered to do so as part of a Job Seekers Direction. Provided you can show you're actively seeking work, refusal to voluntarily participate can't be used against you. Some people find these schemes useful, most think they're rubbish. They involve CV's and learning to be "flexible" i.e. doing worse jobs for less money, and grovelling to the bosses.

Once you agree to do them, you may get hassled if you leave. If you walk out or disrupt them, it can be reported to the ES. You could get a follow up Restart and be asked to explain. Remember the schemes are voluntary, except under a Job Seekers Direction, - just say it was a complete waste of time.

Job Interview Guarantee:
- you are told of vacancies and guaranteed interviews. Refusing interviews or offers might be used as evidence of not being available / actively seeking work.

Work Trials:
allow employers to try you out for up to 3 weeks while you stay on the dole and there's no guarantee of a job at the end of it. People end up working in kitchens for scumbag employers who have no intention of ever taking on properly paid staff.



These schemes are compulsory "re-motivation programmes" and don't require a Job Seekers Direction. You are usually ordered on to them if you refuse a place on a voluntary or training scheme at a Restart interview. They are like the voluntary schemes in terms of content and are used to break down people's resistance to accepting low paid and crap work.

Case-loading lasts for 8 weeks and is aimed at people unemployed for 6 months+ who have been identified as needing "extra help" at a Restart interview. This means people who:

Decline all offers of help,

Are long-term unemployed and "lack motivation or appear to have low confidence,"

Need "encouraging" to take low paid work,

Have raised a doubt about their availability for / actively seeking work.

lasts a week. You can be required to attend if you are over 25 and have been unemployed for 12 months.

18-24 year olds can be compulsory referred at the 12 month Restart after refusing to go on a voluntary scheme. This also applies to over 25's who can be referred to either this or JobPlan at the 18 month Restart. It involves up to 6 interviews with a Client Adviser over a 6-12 week period. You will be asked to do things like prepare a CV, research the local labour market, etc. and be re-interviewed on whether you've done these.

WORKWISE (Worklink in Scotland):
A 4-week course. You can be referred if you are 18-24 and unemployed for 1 year. Usually they send you on a 1-2-1 first but they don't have to.



A 2 week course, usually consisting of supervised morning sessions and afternoon job search assignments. You can be made to attend if you've been unemployed for 2 years, or after 18 months if a Client Adviser thinks you should and there are places available.

Much of these courses consist of CV writing; pseudo-psychological analysis (what's wrong with you that you can't get a job) and the belief that the long term unemployed are "weak," lacking in self-esteem and moral fibre, etc. Most people resist this humiliating process, if only by asking questions like "I'm a fully qualified plumber - why are you trying to make me apply for a job in Burger King?" or "There aren't any jobs available - what's the point of putting us through this rubbish?".

These courses are contracted out by the Employment Service to the private sector. The trainers might get paid peanuts for acting as soft cops but their bosses are profiting from mass unemployment. Don't let them get away with it.

You can only be asked to leave for disruptive behaviour / misconduct, which can lead to a PENALTY. But disruption and non-cooperation are not necessarily the same thing.



This pilot scheme started in Hull and the Medway and has now been extended to: East & North East London, Brighton, Portsmouth, Hertford & Harlow, Norwich, Peterborough, Bath, Bristol, Weston Super Mare, Derby, Dudley & Sandwell, Leicester, Nottingham, Stoke, Merthyr & Rhymney, Neath & Port Talbot, Swansea, Bolton & Bury, Bradford, Grimsby, Huddersfield, Preston, South Tyneside, Wigan & St.Helens, Dundee, Dunfermline and Edinburgh. If you've been unemployed for more than 2 years and are aged 18-50 you can be offered 13 weeks "structured" job search. This is voluntary and involves being referred to vacancies, 1-2-1 interviews, Training for Work, or Job Club. Whether you take up the offer or not, if you're still unemployed at the end of the 13 weeks, you get 13 weeks compulsory work experience (for which you get paid benefit plus £10 pw). This is run by private training groups like Grand Met. and voluntary or charity bodies. If you refuse to attend, leave early or go absent without good reason you face a penalty (see PENALTIES).

Good Cause
for non-attendance includes health problems (physical or mental) which prevent you from attending or "put at risk the health of others", sincerely held religious or conscientious objections, travelling time more than an hour each way, caring responsibilities no one else can fulfill, jury service, funeral of close friend / relative, or domestic emergency.

You can also refuse with good cause if you've already done 13 weeks work experience under Project Work (more like Project Slavery).

If you come off the dole but sign on again within 6 months of the Restart (when you were initially put on Project Work) you are referred straight back onto it.

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