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This article about running out of work, money, and luck is really interesting. Note the presumption of access to health insurance and a car.

And this: "Meanwhile they were finding out why some recipients have taken to calling the assistance program “Torture and Abuse of Needy Families.” From the start, the experience has been “humiliating,” Kristen said. The caseworkers “treat you like a bum — they act like every dollar you get is coming out of their own paychecks." " - I get the feeling welfare/jobs caseworkers in the US and UK treat people about exactly the same.

The UK assumption of the classes people are in being permanent is interesting to me. And the Parentes would have considered themselves middle class, as do I. But I think that I could just as easily slip into the same situation in two years as they have - out of work, no place to live, being treated like a scrounger by the government. My only saving grace is that I don't have to take care of any children. But I don't see myself having enough money saved up to keep this from happening, and God knows I would have no one to turn to to bail me out. My only hope is to just keep working and hope I stay employed.

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( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
almostwitty
Jul. 13th, 2009 09:12 am (UTC)
I've signed on a few times, both in London and in North Wales. Admittedly, not for more than six months, but each time I was treated relatively courteously. Possibly because I have a "posh" accent, and possibly because my job and skills seem so specialist and arcane the DSS folks had no idea what to do with me, aside from process the cheques.
(Deleted comment)
thekumquat
Jul. 13th, 2009 11:12 am (UTC)
Last time I signed on, Lambeth council had contracted all its housing benefit claims out to Capita.
They'd started about 30,000 claims behind (about 18 months). Two years later, they were 50,000 claims behind and Lambeth took the service back in-house. It's now only about 8 weeks to get housing beinefit sorted.

The private sector only works when there's money to be made. I don't see how it can help the benefits agencies.

My experience of front-line staff was OK in south London - quote "You don't shout at us, you don't abuse, you don't get violent, you can sign on for six months no problem", although I did have to see a patronising Disability Emploment Adviser after I refused to use a phone: "Some deaf people can even get degrees, you know!" "I know. I've got three of them."
Leafy Surrey was a lot more unpleasant - a 90-min walk to get to the JobCentre, for starters.
janieluk
Jul. 13th, 2009 12:21 pm (UTC)
Funnily enough, I run the main welfare to work industry website in the UK. It's really not the same as the US system currently, although there are moves afoot to make certain aspects rather more similar. The UK had a consistently higher employment rate than the US over the past decade, so there's an argument that it has less to learn from the US than the other way round. Also, employment advisers vary hugely from organisation to organisation and office to office. Some are doubtless very grumpy and regard claimants as scroungers, but there are many who really want to help people. Quite a few have experience of long-term unemployment themselves.
poh
Jul. 13th, 2009 04:34 pm (UTC)
Given most Americans' attitudes, in times of plenty, towards government "hand outs," well...in a republic you get the government you deserve. This quote is very telling:

Take the case of Kristen and Joe Parente, Delaware residents who had always imagined that people turned to government for help only if “they didn’t want to work.”

Well, if they and millions of others like them hadn't repeatedly elected legislators and supported legislation that undermined these social safety nets, they wouldn't be in nearly as much of a pinch as they are now.
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