I've just finished a rather epic 30 minute long phone call to Job Centre Plus to establish I'm eligible for contributions based JSA which given my advancing years is a not too shabby* Â£60.50 a week. I have an interview at the job centre on Thursday which should get me out of the house for a bit.
The JSA phone system, like most call centres, does ask a few basic questions before putting you through to a human. However unlike commercial setups the script seemed to be completely fixed. About 70% of the questions I was asked where entirely irrelevant to me. I reckon at least 50% of them could have been skipped if answers to earlier questions where taken into account. I have a new admiration for the art of the script designer who in the commercial world is driven to make the call as short as possible so the operator can get on to the next customer. It would be interesting to know what the differential in productivity between the public and private sector call centres is. I suspect it's quite high.
As part of our credit crunch planning we did the spreadsheet sums last night to work out how long we can last. Given the general air of doom and gloom we planned on making the redundancy pay last for six months just in case. Hopefully I'll be gainfully employed a lot sooner but at the moment the market does seem very flat. I've had a few bites from agencies but nothing that's made it through to interview yet. Still it's only January so no need to panic just yet.
* By which I don't mean to imply Â£60 is a lot of money. If it's your only income you have to work quite hard to make it stretch given the rise in utility bills. However considering the amount of tax I've paid over the last 15 years I don't feel that guilty getting a bit of it back from the government while I look for work. And it's the only help I will get as saving money for a rainy day effectively ensures the government will never help you out with other costs.