When I last signed on at Hackney's Jobcentre Plus it had just been through a major upheaval (the change happened on August 17) and it now segregates job seekers who have been on the dole for more than three months from those who have come in more recently. The longer-term unemployed are now sent upstairs to face deeper scrutiny.
Meanwhile the new arrivals are given specific five minute time slots which they cannot miss. At my last signing-on, my adviser didn't have time to take down the evidence on my attempts to get back into work. Is this just streamlining or have numbers of claimants gone up significantly?
On Thursday the Hackney Gazette reported that an employment charity had lost its funding and would have to close down - the story was posted on the Gazette's website yesterday. The charity's head said that job centres in Hackney "can't cope".