Commenting about anonymity on another blog a few days ago, I realised I hadn’t posted anything meriting a digital balaclava for ages.
Time to put that right, because I have more spleen to throw at the LSC than ought to be anatomically possible. Not for its policy, although not lacking in reason for that, but for its utter inability to actually manage to perform its day to day operational activities, to wit: issuing and amending funding certificates.
First, a brief moment of reasonableness. I’m sure that the frontline is understaffed and under-trained and that it really isn’t their fault.
Now that is out of the way… How dare this bloody agency presume to lecture us on efficiency? A few months ago, the entire London operation for dealing with certificates was moved to Newcastle, not in itself a problem except that it seemed to come as a surprise to Newcastle, which remains so traumatised that it requires three attempts to get anything done. Was the move not planned for? If it was, who screwed it up?
Lots of lost or misplaced files later, the process is roughly as follows…
A four week backlog before anything is even considered, regardless of the actual urgency. No point in faxing because even if it gets through, as one minion told me on the phone, they don’t bother looking at the faxed stuff.
After four weeks, the APP1, APP8 or whatever will be sent back to us because:
- you supposedly haven’t filled in bits that you have;
- they demand irrelevant information;
- they demand information you can’t provide (and have explained why).
So you send the form back, explaining. Now you are back at the back of the 4 week queue. What do you mean your devolved powers/emergency certificate ran out after four weeks? You should have marked it as urgent. Oh you did. Tough, it is in the pile now.
Now and again, for the sake of variety, when you call Newcastle, you are put through to Birmingham. Why? Has Newcastle got a bit of a headache? Or had a row last night and just isn’t up to taking calls? Birmingham seems eager to help, but can only tell you the application you are chasing ‘isn’t on the system’. Still it is nice to hear a different accent from time to time.
Then comes the decisonmaking, or wildly variable unsubstantiated guesswork, as we call it. While it is nice that the decision makers don’t feel the need to shackle themselves with the funding code and guidance, I personally prefer it when applying for a funding certificate does not resemble doing a lottery scratchcard.
So one often finds it is necessary to submit a reply to show cause, or an appeal, as one might have a hearing in the near future. Then one finds it necessary to submit it again, by fax and DX, because the LSC can’t find any trace of it. And then again, two weeks later, by fax and DX because the LSC has no record of having received it. This time, they might send it to the appeal panel. Who lose it. Can you send it again? By which time, the hearing and the matter is over. (Through gritted teeth, I must point out that this is not exaggeration for comic effect. This actually bloody happened).
This is Kafka, without the unexpected sex. The sheer scale of unattributable, unacknowledged incompetence would be epic if it had anything dramatic about it. But no, epic only in duration, it grinds on relentlessly, like bloody Wagner. This is the banality of evil, for it is malign, oh yes. There is a dark will underlying all this, a twisted spirit that hates light, laughter, kittens and litigation without frustration and despair.
I hate you LSC, there I’ve said it. I hate you and what you’ve made me become. (Exit weeping).