Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Melanie Reid

The Times pays Melanie Reid to write. Bollocks. Like this piece published before Christmas on compulsory volunteering. Today, sticking to her flipflop principles, she writes that people like her friend who had better jobs than the rest of the planet ought to receive five star treatment at JobCentrePlus when they sign on. Oh the indignity of queueing and waiting behind plebs, of having to be punctual for appointments, of having to prove one is available and searching for work in order to receive JSA or NI credits. Surely, the better people with their networks of contacts should be ushered into the VIP Suite and offered refreshments before telling the Personal Advisers how to do their jobs. There aren't any high calibre jobs on offer in JobCentres, she moans (as did Harry Blackwood last year). There's a reason for that: HR Departments don't advertise free in Jobcentres as they prefer to keep their own jobs and routines comfy by advertising in the national papers or contracting headhunters. Actually, if it became compulsory to advertise all vacancies on the JobCentrePlus website then paradoxically a lot of people wouldn't get jobs because many people find work for themselves by phoning up companies, arranging a meeting and submitting a carefully crafted CV for what we in the job-finding trade called "speculative" vacancies, ie the need for the job was not recognised until the enterprising job-seeker matched their jobskills to the business needs of the company. It's the sort of thing that "Operations Directors" should be able to do for themselves - if not it's not difficult to imagine why they were made redundant. JobCentrePlus help, such that there is given tight budget constraints, is directed at those people with higher barriers to re-employment, such as low qualifications, language, literacy and numeracy needs, long-term unemployed, former soldiers, homeless people, recovering drug addicts, ex-prisoners etc and the ES4 or "exercise book" into which the claimant writes job search details is provided to ensure accountability, for didn't the "Operations Directors" and hackettes swap stories of dole scroungers at dinner parties before they encountered democracy in action at the local JobCentrePlus? Ironically, those people deemed to have significant barriers to employment can be referred to private sector jobfinding companies contracted by the DWP. These companies are paid a fee for each person they find a job for who signs off benefit and no questions are asked how that money is spent. Unlike JobCentrePlus where every penny of public money spent on decent clothes for an interview or the first month's season ticket has to be justified and accounted for. So Melanie, if you are stuck for a few hundred words to write for your next column, why don't you suggest that everyone signing on should be given a shovel and brush and told to sweep for twenty hours a week? Except your friends, of course.

Update 24 April 2010 : I read in today's Times that Melanie Reid suffered a fall from her horse on 4 April causing her to suffer a broken neck and back. She dictated an excellent article about the accident and her subsequent treatment. The prognosis for her recovery at this early stage is pretty good and she is realistically positive. Despite my acerbic comments about her on JobCentrePlus above, I offer her my best wishes and hope that she is able to get back in the saddle as soon as possible. Reading her article again I know that she will not give up trying.

1 comment:

J said...

What a brilliant piece.

Your knowledge of JCP is very accurate I must say. You must either have worked within its confines, experienced its "services" or know people who do.

I do know celebrities can get treated differently (and I use this word very loosely), so perhaps Melanie needs to get herself on X Factor or something before any period of unemployment. She might then get a private room and the chance to sign by post.

And as you point out. If she wants some help - the only help that might be available, she might have to sleep rough with no idea when a place to stay will become available, or spend a period of several years in the armed service of our country or have a disability. I doubt she would choose any of these options the silly mare.

Well done.