Job Centre caused me more stress

Regular readers will know it is my intention to start my own business. It’s a bit secret squirrel as I have identified and untapped market that I want to build the business around. As with any benefit/allowance there are certain sections/processes you have to go through, be that on JSA (Job Seekers Allowance) or ESA (Employment & Support Allowance). This post is a bit complicated but I will try my best to make it as easy to understand as possible, especially for my foreign followers.

OK, so I went on to ESA because of a disability but will be able to work again at some point. I said I wanted to start my own business, as the chances of being employed with a disability are unfortunately very low. They sent me on two very useful Courses, first the being the ‘Introduction to Enterprise’ and the second being ‘Practical Skills for Business’, both run by TCHC and delivered by the excellent Andrew Manig, of Manig Business Advice and Training Ltd. After a set amount of time my Disability adviser at Job Centre Plus is supposed to transfer me to the ‘Work Programme’, which is with an external provider. Due to the fact we knew surgery was imminent the start date for this section of the ESA trail could be deferred for up to 90 days, which is what we did.

In the meantime I have sourced a provider for the workshops to gain the skills I need to run my business. My Disability Adviser submitted this to see if I could obtain funding for the three (single day) workshops. I was told I could be funded by Job Centre Plus, all the person running the course had to do was register their details on the Government site so he could get paid. Well it was a total nightmare for him, no simple process and he was getting physical headaches form trying to do it. The help from Job Centre Plus was patchy as were other government sections he tried to deal with to get it sorted. I can’t thank him enough for sticking with it, as he would have been well within his rights to turn round and say he didn’t want to pursue it and pull out.

So with my time in Hospital and the surgery, and the person running the course taking ages to get help and sorted, time was ticking by. Not that long after my surgery a telephone meeting with my Disability Adviser had already been arranged. When we eventually spoke she told me that she had some bad news. Because the deferred 90 days were coming to an end I had to be transferred to the Work Programme, but this meant loosing the funding for the workshops. I told her that those workshops were my business and if I didn’t do them I didn’t have a business. Thankfully my Adviser is brilliant and she was totally on my side. She did say I might able to re-apply for the funding on the Work Programme but there was no guarantee I would get it. Because she knew my situation so well, what with the surgery and the problems the workshop provider had getting registered, she had spoken to her manager about my case. They were both willing to fight my corner for me but we had no idea how successful they would be.

I had to inform the person running the workshop of the issue and told him I would keep him updated with any progress. After a week or two I was told that the case had gone to a divisional person to make a decision. After about another four agonising weeks of waiting I finally got a decision and thankfully it fell in my favour.

Because the funding had already been approved I am able to do the Workshops. I asked if there was a time limit and was told that although no time limit had been specified they would want me to get it done as soon as possible. You can have the workshops on three consecutive days but my plan is to do the first one, have a couple of weeks in between to practice my skill and then do the second etc. my Adviser thought this would be acceptable. I still have to be referred to the Work Programme who will be able to continue to support me to start my own business. I see my Adviser next Tuesday where we go through the transfer process and then next Thursday I do the first workshop. So I had four weeks of stress and worry but thankfully Job Centre Plus came through in the end. I have to admit my enthusiasm had waned but I am getting more excited by the day about actually starting the workshops and moving on again.

Job Centre Plus 1

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