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Contribution JSA query

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Up to about six months ago I had a good job that I was qualified for and a decent salary.


In a few weeks I will have on contribution based JSA for six months. I have done everything asked of me - weekly signing, applying for jobs etc. After about four months of unemployment I was given no choice other than attend a skills centre every couple of weeks which I have found of little use at best.


Also, quite a while back I was advised to apply for voluntary work as it helps you get back to work. The CRBs have come back and I'm in the process of arranging the start date and hours - have filled out the forms with the jobcentre and let the advisor know....


However, last week I received a letter regarding a six month interview. A friend has told me that they will force me to go on a two week 9:30 - 4:30 course. Can they do this as I'm still on this skills thing for another month? My main worries are that this course will coincide with the school holidays (I cannot afford childcare for two weeks as husband won't be able to cover that with his salary and I won't be getting any JSA). In addition, it will screw up the voluntary work which I feel will be far more useful for me in relation to getting a job.


If I do have to do the two week course can I ask them to arrange it for after the school holidays?


I have also noticed that my JSA agreement says that there is no restriction to the hours that I can work when in reality I told the advisor that I could work 9-6 pm Monday to Friday as I have young children. I did not notice it at the time as I had my children with me and could not wait to leave as they were making so much noise... Can I get the hours changed at my six month meeting? They are certainly aware that I have children that I need to take to school as they changed my signing on time and a couple of appointments to fit in with this.

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The two week course sounds like the kind of thing that New Deal kicks off with and that only applies to 18-24 year olds. If you are 25 or over then this wont happen until you were 18 months unemployed.


However, Jobcentre Plus is changing and as always there are different pilot schemes running in different areas so it is possible (though unlikely) that it is one of these pilots. Either way they won't expect you to give up one of their courses to do another one. That's a bit counterproductive.


Difficult to be 100% on this subject though.


As for the Jobseekers Agreement that should be discussed at the six month interview and you should explain that you can only work certain hours. The rules on restrictions are long but, put clearly, as long as you are available for 40 hours a week and the work you are looking for does not contradict the hours you are looking for, ie security guard working 9-5 would be difficult unless you were a retail guard, then you should be fine.

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