When you're unemployed, the first thing you've got to do is get used to queueing.
Today I joined the queue for Council Tax. I had everything I thought I needed
2 Proofs of address
Proof of bank accounts
1 Filled in council tax benefit booklet form
2 Mini-statements showing what wasn't in my bank account
and I joined the queue.
There was a fairly scabby looking young woman in a grey shellsuit in front of me. Her lank, mousy hair in a scruffy ponytail. In front of her was a young girl who had misunderstood an instruction she had been given and was now loudly complaining that the mistake SHE'd made was somehow the fault of the woman behind the glass.
The scabby woman and I looked at each other and we rolled our eyes.
Ten minutes later it was Scabby's turn.
She was changing address and needed the housing benefit to be adjusted. The woman behind the counter was asking her for her bank details at which Scabby started kicking off.
She wanted to the money to be paid directly to the landlord because, as she shouted whilst battering the glass "I'll only spend it!"
A well dressed couple behind me (a married couple who were trying to evict someone) started muttering and nodding to each other "Fair play, at least she knows what she's like"
After a full five minutes, Scabby finally "persuaded" the woman behind the counter to give out the right form so that the landlord could fill in HIS bank details.
I got to the counter, was given a numbered ticket and went to sit down. A grandmother was cooing over a tiny baby dressed entirely in Barbie pink, whilst her daughter was sitting at one of the counters.
When I was called I handed the entire lot over, confident that I had everything including a letter which stated I was made redundant and effectively unemployed since yesterday.
I needed proof of entitlement to benefits. It was more than likely going to be Contributions Based Job Seekers Allowance.
She took everything, photocopied it and handed it all back to me saying that until I get the letter stating that I was entitled to Job Seekers Allowance, then the claim could go no further.
I had a month to bring back the letter and then they would put in the claim.