You may have recently been made redundant and facing your first visit to a Jobcentre Plus office. And no doubt you’ve read all the recent newspaper articles about how bad the Jobcentre Plus network is but it’s not always as bad as it seems.
Many people who complain about the Jobcentre Plus offices are people who have made many visits in their lives and are not always the best judge of the system; this guide is written with the first time Jobcentre Plus visitor in mind.
The first thing to keep in mind when making that first visit to a Jobcentre Plus office is remain calm and collected, be prepared to answer a lot of questions, take lots of information with you kinds of things to have with you on your first visit:
- Proof of identity
- Proof of address
- Proof of mortgage/rent etc
- Birth Certificate/Driving Licence
- Wage slips (as many as possible, although the last 4 will be enough)
- Proof of any savings you have (bank statements etc)
- Proof of redundancy (your redundancy notice)
Jobcentre Plus staff are there to help you; you may think some questions are not relevant or pointless but the more honest answers you can give them the quicker the whole process is. If you don’t provide enough information or misleading information any claim for benefits may be delayed whilst you have a lot of letters sent backwards and forwards to prove your case.
So the more you can provide upfront the quicker the process is for you.
Ok so that’s a few basics on what information you need to make a claim now let’s move on to dealing with Jobcentre Plus staff on a one-to-one basis; the single most important thing to remember and this isn’t designed to sound derogatory towards Jobcentre Plus staff but they are not the most highly paid staff in the country, and they don’t know the answer to every question you may ask them.
We’ve all read the media reports about the way Jobcentre Plus staff talk down to people and treat them like #p but face a fact here NOT ALL Jobcentre Plus staff are the same yes it’s true there are certainly the bad ones that really don’t seem to care about anything or anyone but the pushing of the buttons on the computer and collecting the salary, but there are 100’s of other people out there who are VERY good at what they do.
The key thing to remember when dealing with a Jobcentre Plus front line advisor is to always be honest with them, if you haven’t applied for a particular job that week TELL them and explain why you haven’t. The more straight forward and honestly you interact with the Jobcentre Plus staff the better service you will receive from them.
If your benefit claim hasn’t been sorted remember it’s NOT the front line advisors fault they don’t make those decisions, they are only there to show you potential jobs and to advise you, so don’t take out your frustrations on the front line staff it WON’T get that benefit claim sorted any quicker.
Asking for help
Jobcentre Plus staff don’t have all the answers, and cannot answer questions like why my CV isn’t working for me, so instead of asking them these questions ask them the next question:
- Can you refer me to a specialist service to help me sort out my CV/Interview Techniques etc?
And if you have recently been made redundant the answer from the Jobcentre Plus staff should be YES as there is a network of public/private partnerships set up across the country for that specific reason and each Jobcentre Plus staff member should know exactly what services and what companies are providing those services in your area.
But the key here is to ASK for that help not to make unreasonable demands; the more precise you can be on what exactly you want the better response you will get from the Jobcentre Plus staff.
So to recap the most effective way to deal with Jobcentre Plus staff is:
- Ask not demand
Sound basic but remember Jobcentre Plus staff are just like the rest of us doing a job and collecting the wage packet, they deserve the same respect you expect from them.
If you are not happy with the service you are receiving from a member of Jobcentre Plus staff the solution is simple, DON’T kick off in the office it doesn’t help, calmly ask to speak to a supervisor and voice your concerns if that doesn’t work write a letter of complaint to the Jobcentre Plus District Manager, you can get the address from any local Jobcentre Plus office and methodically voice your complaints/concerns in writing DON’T rant and rave be logical explains your feelings etc and you’ll be surprised what results can be achieved.
This article may sound as though it’s all about Jobcentre Staff but remember it isn’t it’s about YOU and the best way for you to get the best service out of a Jobcentre Plus office.
Think about how you like to be treated and how quickly you would react to a polite request from a work colleague rather than how you react to a demand ….. ?
It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to know which method you prefer, and that’s the same method to apply when visiting a Jobcentre Plus office.