Basic maths …

Come back, those journalists who ran from the post title. It’s ok. This isn’t a lesson in maths or a discussion about whether newspapers should close or even if £10,000 is enough pay for a trainee.

This is simply a brief look at the reality of jobless journalists trying to find work and the costs involved. As you know I have an interview on Monday. I’m excited: it’s a job I actually want and not something I have to do: it’s a job I’m qualified to do and have experience of.

It’s not Santa’s elf in a department store.

Jobcentre Plus has coughed up for train fare (after I kicked up a stink involving my MP I now have easy access to the elusive Travel to Interview Scheme) but there are, of course, other expenses.

These expenses are:

  • Bus fare to and from station: £3.40
  • Taxi fare to and from station at interview location: £14
  • Presentation printing costs: £7.20
  • Gas on meter (to wash and dry interview outfit): £10

This is a total of: £34.60 taken from a weekly income of £67.50 leaving me with £32.90 for a week of bills, food and other living expenses.

I might be able to walk back to the station after the interview but can’t risk being late on the way there. I don’t know if lunch is provided but I certainly can’t afford to buy a butty so the panel will have to ignore my rumbling tummy. I can’t arrive without presentation handouts because I assume everyone else will have them. I need clean undies.

The point I’m making is it costs money to find work yet the unemployed are vilified and dismissed as lazy, too fussy, not looking hard enough. I really want this job but trying to impress a panel doesn’t come as easily when you’re fretting about costs, considering running to the venue to save money on fares, not able to eat until you return home, etc.

While I recognise that were I a character in Steinbeck I’d be bravely walking along desolate landscapes, dragging my children behind me, kicking up dust clouds with my tear-stained workboots – it’s now 2011 and we shouldn’t be asking workers to walk miles, to go without meals or to be at a disadvantage when they are looking for work.

At the very least we shouldn’t be expecting them to do this and then contemptuously creating a nationally recognised stereotype of feckless wasters sponging off benefits.

Amount of money I have to last me 8 days: £4.62

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