All posts for the month July, 2013

Letters From the Edge of Blogspace: Hold Back The Rain….

Published July 27, 2013 by Christine

It’s been a while since I posted anything of consequence on here. Most of my posts have been on the other blog and been political in nature. This is probably due to the quiet nature of my life currently. Just getting on with stuff and trying to live. There have been several incidents of note over the last few weeks though. One of which has been this wonderfully sunny weather.

First off, I have lost a job before it even started. Most people will know about this but I will put it here anyway. The DWP have started their rollout of Universal Credit, (sorry, can’t help laughing). Back in April, I reported that I was due to start a new job. This has since gone down the proverbial pan. After receiving multiple updates through May, June and July, each stating a new start date, (2nd May, 1st July, ‘sometime’ in July), I received a final update (I have removed the name of the agency):

As you may be aware XYZ Consulting completed a number of Pilot sites as well as Monitor installations this year and the feedback from the customer was 100% positive.  It was duly noted that our engineers carried themselves with a high level of professionalism, thorough technical ability and the utmost respect for their surroundings.
Since the completion of these installations along with the Pilot we have witnessed several delays due mainly to technical issues.  During this downtime a further supplier approached the client and made an alternate proposal that was at a significantly lower cost than the one proposed originally by XYZ Consulting. 
To have matched the alternate cost model we would have had to drop our pay rates to a level that we were not comfortable with and as a result we feel this would not have been representative of current market rate.  I was unwilling to offer rates 30-40% less than what had already been suggested and agreed to you individually.  My first concern is the wellbeing and appropriate remuneration of my engineers and we could not in good conscious ask for such a significant lower pay rate to be considered when mileage and accommodation expenses had already been removed. 
The end client have decided, for the time being, to select this lower cost option with the alternate supplier.  How this develops in the coming months we cannot be sure.  But for now, as it stands, we will not be providing engineering resources onto the DWP deployment project. 
I am sure you share our disappointment, but we feel to ring fence our costing with what we believe to be market rates was the right decision.

The delays mentioned was the 100 days downtime during which the other ‘supplier’ sneaked in with the lower offer. It’s unfortunate, but I agree with the decision not to make the 30-40% pay drop, especially since expenses are not included in the deal (we were made aware of this at the initial meeting). Its a shame. I was really looking forward to starting on this project. I suspect that opting for the cheaper supplier will come back and bite the DWP in the bum. We can only hope.

At the same time as I was getting excited about the job, I was also getting shafted by the DWP in another way. In April, after receiving the news about getting the job, I made a slight cockup and didn’t fill in my online job search prior to signing on. This meant that I was sanctioned. (For those not in the know, a sanction is a financial penalty imposed by the DWP for not complying with your Jobseekers Agreement, usually loss of JSA). This sanction, being the first, was for four weeks, (two JSA payments). No problem, I could accept this. I had failed to fill out the jobsearch. Fair do’s. Then, for some unknown reason, immediately after the end of that sanction I was sanctioned again! This, being the second, would last 13 weeks, (who comes up with these numbers?). This meant that I wouldn’t get any money until August! Neither myself nor the supervisor in the JobCentre knew about this until I phoned JobCentre Plus after being without any money for eight weeks after the initial sanction. The supervisor then made some calls and found out that one of the advisor’s who had ‘signed’ me had put me on another sanction without reason or explanation. This meant that I had to appeal against the sanction, which I did. In the meantime, I had to apply for the JSA hardship payment just to get some money each fortnight. As it turned out this is a payment which is 40% less than the normal JSA payment, (coincidentally, the same percentage as the pay drop I would have had if the agency had stayed with the DWP project). At the time of writing this post I am still waiting to hear about my appeal.

I can only hope that it is coincidence that I have been shafted by the DWP twice! Once, when I mention I have been accepted for a new job and get sanctioned at the same time, and second time with the job itself.

The upshot being, I now have to give up my car since I cannot afford the payments on the insurance, nor the road tax. I will also probably lose internet connection soon since I cannot afford to pay that either until my full JSA is reinstated.

On the upside, at least I still have plenty of time on my hands to carry on looking for a job and it isn’t raining. Plus I had something to put in my blog.

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