A couple of days ago, I needed to buy a new mouse for my laptop computer and also to ask advice on a technical issue. I decided to go to a PC World outlet about 15 miles from where I now live. The PC World store was outside a small town on the coast of Southern England. I was there by 0900 hrs, its opening time. A routine matter, of course, but I felt that I should blog, briefly, about it because it confirmed some of what I have been saying online for years.
There was only one other customer in the large hangar-like store at nine in the morning. I was greeted on going to the service desk by a youngish blonde woman who looked rather fed up. I feared that she would be surly or unhelpful. I could not have been more wrong.
The woman, who was not as young as she looked (she turned out to have a daughter aged 16; well, the police now also look young to me…) dealt with my technical question in a matter of seconds (completely correctly, it later transpired). She also directed me to the part of of the store which displayed “mice”. I chose one, brought it back and, the store now being empty, was told that I could pay for it there at the enquiries desk rather than going to a check-out. I did that.
It might be asked at this point why I am bothering to write about this? Well, I ended up having a chat with the blonde woman employee who had been so useful and helpful, and what she said was very concerning. I don’t know why she confided in me, whom she had only just met, except that people often do. They seem to divine that I can keep a secret, for one thing, though that does not apply in this case. I think that people also know that I want to help if I can.
The blonde woman worked full-time in the PC World store, but lived in a housing association property and received Housing Benefit to pay for the rent or part of the rent. That alone confirmed some of my expressed views over the years. Here she was, in a full-time job, and moreover one which actually required some skill and knowledge, which job she was doing really competently too (as I myself saw), yet was unable to pay her modest rent (after all, this was a housing association property) out of her pay!
Now this is just plain wrong. Here we have a large chain, part of a group (Dixons Carphone, formerly Dixons Group) which, in the financial year 2017-2018, made (pre-tax) profits of £382 million, yet is not paying its staff enough so that they can even pay their domestic rent! Instead, PC World relies on the State to stump up monies (Housing Benefit and also, perhaps, Working Tax Credit— I did not talk to the woman in such detail).
In other words, the profits of the employer are being bolstered by the State, meaning taxpayers (and including, at least via National Insurance and VAT etc, the employee herself in this case).
Previous visits to PC World had been far less satisfactory. That woman had made the difference, yet was struggling to survive. When will British businesses realize that they are only as good as their employees, at all levels?
There is something wrong about a system or society in which the pay received by an employee for full-time work is not enough to allow her even to pay her rent.
Further, I was told that, because the Housing Benefit was delayed by a few days, routinely, the woman had fallen into arrears and, though the arrears were always only in existence for a few days, the Housing Association had taken her to court at least once and, as a result, she had had to pay £100-something in court costs and also a financial impost of about the same to the Housing Association! This surely must be seen as unfair and unjust.
The woman also told me that her daughter was autistic (I do not know, of course, to what extent) and had been getting Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in respect of that. Recently, the daughter had reached the age of 16. As a result, she had been forced off DLA and forced to undertake a “test” for “Personal Independence Payment” or PIP [off-piste, someone must one day do a sketch on the vulgar cheesy names for such things: “Personal Independence Payment”, “Jobseeker’s Allowance”, “Job Centre” etc].
The daughter had, subsequently, been awarded nothing. So suddenly, this girl, long diagnosed as autistic, had now, despite the diagnosis and her previously accepted status, been cut off from State funds by reason only of a change in policy by government (Iain Dunce Duncan Smith and the jew “lord” Freud, Esther McVey, not to mention David Gauke and Chris Grayling etc).
I went away from that encounter at PC World thinking about how unjust and in fact how simply inefficient the system in the UK is, in that instead of a person being able to work and provide for herself and her daughter and/or get help from the State in a simple manner, she (a useful member of society at that) was being made anxious and being forced to jump through hoops in order to survive.
The present system is not efficient, is callous and unfair and is a complicated maze. Hopeless. Parliament is hopeless. “Democracy” (as we know it) is hopeless. The MPs and “peers” are hopeless. Business is not pulling its weight. The people are not only not being helped but are being impeded unnecessarily by the overall system in which they live and work.