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A lucky escape

A lucky escape

Old Feb 7th 2020, 5:26 pm
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Default A lucky escape

Back in the 90s when I was looking at ways to retire early (from DSS/DWP) I had my main idea of how and when to do it, with the flexibility of doing it earlier if things got too bad at work.

Those things being the increasingly unpalatable stuff we were asked to do, like in my final role having a series of job targets; most of them completely unreasonable. I don't mean unrealistic, just not appropriate. And some daft.

As an advisor/interviewer in the job centre, targets included the number of interviews done in a day (as if I had some control over people not turning up for their appointment); how many job starts followed from my referrals (as if I could take some credit for them getting the job applied for); refer for various courses including one for English as a second language even if everyone I saw was an native English speaker and, of course sanctions even if everyone had fulfilled their agreements. There's more.

I'd already had some experience of being "creative" to avoid being just plain unfair on people previously and in that last role I was able to meet enough benign targets to keep management off my back. But how long that would last was anyone's guess.

I have seen a number of news reports since then to tell me I got out when the going was 'good' and I avoided the stuff that would stop me sleeping at nights.

This is the latest example of the pressures put on staff to get things done.
At least 69 suicides linked to DWP's handling of benefit claims
The odd thing is that this is all actually down to government with it's dogmatic approach and obsession with outsourcing large parts of the assessments that result in these outcomes along with pressures on the staff to stop people's benefits. It's disappointing to see barely a mention of any of that in the report as if the errors and bad decisions have nothing to do with all that and are just the results of the actions of sadists and incompetents.
(of course, I've not been working there for over 15 years so I'm prepared to believe the numbers of incompetents and sadists have grown)

This opinion piece covers the politics of it better.

Have you had a lucky escape? Not necessarily work related.
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Old Feb 7th 2020, 5:38 pm
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Default Re: A lucky escape

I'm glad you got out when you did, that would be a hell of a stressful job for someone as nice as you.

Yes, outsourcing is a huge problem, particularly the companies they use to assess people for disability payments. I read of so many cases where people who simply weren't able to work were assessed as fit for work. If I recall correctly around 85% of those decisions are overturned on appeal but that doesn't stop the poverty and anxiety in the interim.

When I lived on the Wirral there was an area about 15 minutes away that had a lot of disadvantaged people living there. After Universal Credit was introduced there the (Job Centre?) staff were quite distressed by the hardship they saw every day. So much so that they formed their own foodbank, donating the food themselves and giving it to clients. Really good people.

My only escape that I can think of was getting away from my ex in one piece but that wasn't lucky, that was courageous even if I do say so myself
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Old Feb 7th 2020, 6:47 pm
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Default Re: A lucky escape

Originally Posted by spouse of scouse View Post
I'm glad you got out when you did, that would be a hell of a stressful job for someone as nice as you.

...If I recall correctly around 85% of those decisions are overturned on appeal ...
To be fair, in many cases the same staff overturning the decisions because the appeal often produces new information or rams it home better. I'm speaking for back then, not now.
After Universal Credit was introduced there the (Job Centre?) staff were quite distressed by the hardship they saw every day. So much so that they formed their own foodbank, donating the food themselves and giving it to clients. Really good people.
I remember reading that in Newcastle (I think) some staff/ex staff set themselves up as a support group to advocate and advise.
My only escape that I can think of was getting away from my ex in one piece but that wasn't lucky, that was courageous even if I do say so myself
Immensely courageous as well as difficult in practice. Had a good relationship with Women's Aid in our area. Lots of creative thinking done there too to get around some outrageous rules.
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Old Feb 7th 2020, 7:21 pm
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Default Re: A lucky escape

Originally Posted by BristolUK View Post
Back in the 90s when I was looking at ways to retire early (from DSS/DWP) I had my main idea of how and when to do it, with the flexibility of doing it earlier if things got too bad at work.

Those things being the increasingly unpalatable stuff we were asked to do, like in my final role having a series of job targets; most of them completely unreasonable. I don't mean unrealistic, just not appropriate. And some daft.

As an advisor/interviewer in the job centre, targets included the number of interviews done in a day (as if I had some control over people not turning up for their appointment); how many job starts followed from my referrals (as if I could take some credit for them getting the job applied for); refer for various courses including one for English as a second language even if everyone I saw was an native English speaker and, of course sanctions even if everyone had fulfilled their agreements. There's more.

I'd already had some experience of being "creative" to avoid being just plain unfair on people previously and in that last role I was able to meet enough benign targets to keep management off my back. But how long that would last was anyone's guess.

I have seen a number of news reports since then to tell me I got out when the going was 'good' and I avoided the stuff that would stop me sleeping at nights.

This is the latest example of the pressures put on staff to get things done.
At least 69 suicides linked to DWP's handling of benefit claims
The odd thing is that this is all actually down to government with it's dogmatic approach and obsession with outsourcing large parts of the assessments that result in these outcomes along with pressures on the staff to stop people's benefits. It's disappointing to see barely a mention of any of that in the report as if the errors and bad decisions have nothing to do with all that and are just the results of the actions of sadists and incompetents.
(of course, I've not been working there for over 15 years so I'm prepared to believe the numbers of incompetents and sadists have grown)

This opinion piece covers the politics of it better.

Have you had a lucky escape? Not necessarily work related.
I think i did, work related.

Seeing how the "clean water act" is going right now and the EPA rules being changed ( and not for the better) I am glad I retired in December.
Running a state certified water testing Lab using the most stringent rules from 4 different entities was tough anyway.Most rule changes were mostly revised only every 2 to 3 years. That changed a few years ago and it suddenly became a running battle to ensure all the Lab Manuals were updated frequently to stay in compliance as rules were changing weekly!

In my nice stress free mind I call it not just a lucky escape but a great escape!
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Old Feb 7th 2020, 8:19 pm
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Default Re: A lucky escape

Originally Posted by Sugarmooma View Post

In my nice stress free mind I call it not just a lucky escape but a great escape!
On your motor bike?



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Old Feb 8th 2020, 12:57 am
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Default Re: A lucky escape

Originally Posted by BristolUK View Post

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Old Feb 8th 2020, 3:04 am
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Default Re: A lucky escape

Originally Posted by Sugarmooma View Post


Didn't they have any of the big bikes?
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Old Feb 8th 2020, 3:24 am
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Default Re: A lucky escape

Originally Posted by Sugarmooma View Post
Great photo biker chick!
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Old Feb 8th 2020, 3:30 am
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Default Re: A lucky escape

Originally Posted by BristolUK View Post


To be fair, in many cases the same staff overturning the decisions because the appeal often produces new information or rams it home better. I'm speaking for back then, not now.

I remember reading that in Newcastle (I think) some staff/ex staff set themselves up as a support group to advocate and advise.

Immensely courageous as well as difficult in practice. Had a good relationship with Women's Aid in our area. Lots of creative thinking done there too to get around some outrageous rules.
Government departments do love their 'fit into this box or else' rules, don't they. You were obviously such a valuable asset to your field, you would have been great at training staff. That's where the key focus should be for social services jobs, making sure that people have the right values before unleashing them on an unwary and vulnerable public!
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Old Feb 8th 2020, 4:40 am
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Default Re: A lucky escape

Originally Posted by Lion in Winter View Post
Didn't they have any of the big bikes?
Originally Posted by spouse of scouse View Post
Great photo biker chick!
Sadly we have just advertised it for sale I'm hoping it doesn't sell yet so we can have a few more road trips but I think the biker days are coming to an end. We'll see.
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Old Feb 8th 2020, 5:14 am
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Default Re: A lucky escape

One of the issues I have with how assistance is done in BC is they just use general government admin type workers front line who know very little and can do very little, its frustrating for both the client and the worker, long gone are the days where they assigned people workers and the workers maybe they are nice in real life, I dunno but they are not nice to clients at all, I hate going into the office for anything, its just a very dehumanizing experience, starting with having to stand outside in the cold as they don't let people wait inside the office anymore.

Upside is the disability determination seems to be made by medical professionals who work for the province, I would imagine they still feel pressure to not approve but at least they are medical professionals who have the proper training to determine if someone is disabled.

Originally Posted by spouse of scouse View Post
I'm glad you got out when you did, that would be a hell of a stressful job for someone as nice as you.

Yes, outsourcing is a huge problem, particularly the companies they use to assess people for disability payments. I read of so many cases where people who simply weren't able to work were assessed as fit for work. If I recall correctly around 85% of those decisions are overturned on appeal but that doesn't stop the poverty and anxiety in the interim.

When I lived on the Wirral there was an area about 15 minutes away that had a lot of disadvantaged people living there. After Universal Credit was introduced there the (Job Centre?) staff were quite distressed by the hardship they saw every day. So much so that they formed their own foodbank, donating the food themselves and giving it to clients. Really good people.

My only escape that I can think of was getting away from my ex in one piece but that wasn't lucky, that was courageous even if I do say so myself
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Old Feb 9th 2020, 1:13 pm
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Default Re: A lucky escape

Originally Posted by BristolUK View Post
...Have you had a lucky escape?
This is a bit of a long one, I’ll try and make it readable.

Having contracted for a multinational for around five years (my choice), I was hired in a permanent position for said company based in Geneva January 1992. The years ticked by until 2007 when my role amongst many others was outsourced to a Japanese IT Services company (the same people who screwed up the NHS IT systems). This incurred a massive pension hit (from DB to DC) so the mood was not good.

This new Swiss management team were absolutely fantastic, but were ‘hands off’ on the day to day running of this contract, which was project-mismanaged by their UK counterparts.

Around five years later, my client “merged” (ahem) with a competitor, who promptly cancelled the outsourcing agreement and brought all the IT staff back in-house. Yay!

“Can I have my old pension back please?” “No.”

Early 2016 (around the time I joined BritishExpats) I was informed that the already shafted company pension was to be reduced by 25% monthly. We couldn’t continue to live in CH on the reduced amount, so we decided to get out. At this point I was ‘in the zone’ for early retirement, calculations showed that hanging on until mid-2017 would be the best bet.

October 2016 there came a 'nasty smell in the air' work-wise, and rumours of some soon-to-come changes in Swiss Federal regulations which would potentially screw my pension even more than it already has been. With the blessing of my London based manager, I triggered my own personal article 50 clause - 3 months and out.

November 2016 I was informed that I was to be outsourced again (to an Indian company this time), effective December 2016. Aaarrrggghh! Frantic 'phone calls to Swiss Human Resources, and was very relieved to hear 'no, it's not December, it's mid-February and given that you gave three months’ notice in October you'll be leaving end January and you are therefore out of scope'.

The following morning my mobile goes off and I see that it's my London based manager calling.

Me: Morning Boss.

He: You lucky, lucky bastard, you!

Me: I didn't realise you had transitioned to Human Resources....

So yes, that was my lucky escape.
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Old Feb 9th 2020, 2:57 pm
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Default Re: A lucky escape

Originally Posted by BuckinghamshireBoy View Post
I triggered my own personal article 50 clause

A mixture of luck there then.
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Old Feb 10th 2020, 8:34 am
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Default Re: A lucky escape

Many years ago i was one of the three little pigs.guess which one, my great escape indeed
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