Beer sales are hit by higher taxes; the price of gold, the safe haven of the rich, hits a record high; energy is mis-sold and customers conned; United Utilities shares go up; India pushes up interest rates; the US risks default; the UK economy growth slows as house prices continue to rise and BP make over $5bn in profit.
One could get fed up, couldn’t one. Hull has the highest percentage of people on Jobseekers’ Allowance but Birmingham, Middlesbrough and West Belfast are being hit hard.
I hear talk of a scrapheap but I fear I can’t see it because I’m atop it. So, I decided to vent. I wrote to my MP:
I write to give you an idea of what it is currently like to be unemployed in Britain.
I have two degrees, professional qualifications and experience as both
a journalist and a lecturer. Thanks to five years of the newspaper
industry being decimated and the current attacks on the public sector,
I am now unemployed.
I am on Jobseekers’ Allowance with an income of £67.50 per week for all
bills, food and travel expenses. It is almost impossible to live on
this as gas payments increase by 18%, bus fares increase alongside food
prices. I am also, of course, faced with bank charges if I go
even a few pennies overdrawn. This leaves me virtually housebound.
Added to this is the problem of the government stopping the Travel to
Interview Scheme. I am applying for jobs across the country – more than
willing to move to find employment – but I can’t afford to attend
interviews. Also, if I did get a job in another city I would not be able to afford
the costs of moving, including a deposit to private landlord.
I am, though, expected to do three things per week in order to seek
employment and, if I do not, risk losing my benefits. I am, therefore,
applying for jobs for which I will not be able to attend interview.
It is a ridiculous situation which leaves those willing to work, and
even to move away from their friends and family to do so, unable to –
and yet they are simultaneously expected to do so or risk losing
Of course, I could remain active by getting volunteer work as part of
the “Big Society” – but I cannot afford the bus and I would
also prefer to be in paid employment, using my qualifications, skills
I am not happy being unemployed. It is not cushy. I am going without gas and meals, as necessary – and I am extremely bored.
I have worked hard to gain my qualifications – and paid for them. I
have retrained and changed career in order to remain employed. I have
worked part-time, freelance and I am willing to move in order to find
work. I genuinely struggle to think what else I can do as an individual
to get off Jobseekers’ Allowance.