i have no problems with bureaucracy, most of the time that red tape serves a purpose and is needed (no matter what the conservative party or the confederation of british industry say). the main problem with bureaucracy is that often the right hand can pretend that the question is something to do with the left hand.
here is how it sometimes works.
my adviser gets me on a course. yay for him and yay for me. he then tells me that i have sign on every week. not so yay. i tell him that might be a problem because of having to get to the course – i tell him i will be walking because i can’t afford the bus fare. he nods. we compromise on the signing on. it stays at once a fortnight. he tells me he can’t move the time (he never explains why, i don’t bother to ask), but as it is first thing in the morning i can work with that.
during the first two weeks it is pissing down with rain in the morning – so i am forced to get a bus. i walk home in the afternoon whether it is raining or not. at some point it is mentioned that we can get a travel allowance from the job centre. in fact one or two people have been given one.
‘mmmm’ i think (i do a lot of ‘mmmming’ when i am thinking) ‘shame my adviser never told me that.’ i followed that thought with another: i’ll ask about it tomorrow on the way home.
now you may be wondering what all the fuss is about – it is just a bus fare. true, but when you are on jobseeker’s allowance every penny counts.
next day comes and i wander over to the job centre. at the reception i ask about the travel allowance. the bloke tells me he just works reception he can’t really help me. he does mention that i might be eligible for half price bus fare, but i would need to speak with my adviser. as i was seeing my adviser later on in the week i left it at that.
later on in the week i am seeing my adviser. it is my new adviser (after a certain amount of time you are assigned two advisers one who does your regular signing on and one who will see you every now and then to ‘advise’ and question you and this is your senior adviser). i ask about being refunded my bus fare. they tell me they are not sure about that and i will have to ask my other advisor. oh ok then, so what about the half price bus card do you have the form for that? no comes the reply – you have to get it from the station or the post office. ok that’s good – i’ll get that sorted then.
i am booked in to see my senior adviser in two weeks time (i am sure that is in the hope i will forget about trying to reclaim the bus fares – no chance of that).
last week of the course – just concentrating on getting there and reading the textbook.
go to the tube station. can’t see the form i am looking for. ask for it. oh we don’t do that. really? i was told you did. no. you might be able to download it, or maybe from the post office. ah that sounds like it: the post office.
i go to the post office. do you have the half price bus pass form? no we do not (with a barely disguised snort of disbelief). oh i was told you would have it by the job centre. no, but you might be able to download it.
mmmm (see i told you i do it a lot).
well seeing the senior adviser at the end of the week will ask then.
meeting with the senior adviser: so can i be reimbursed for the travel to the course? i am not sure i will have to ask someone. i’ll let you know next time i see you (which will be at least 3 weeks later – i won’t forget to ask). what about the half price bus pass thing? have you been signing on for 13 weeks? i think so. yes you have. here is the form.
the form the other adviser didn’t have, because they don’t have them. yes that form.
at least i have it – i shouldn’t complain.
he suggests i go to a work experience introductory meeting at another job centre. i say fine sounds like it could be interesting. he sets it up. i go. once the greetings and thanks for comings are out of the way the first thing the bloke says is that you can claim your travel expenses back.