Work fair …

I keep being offered bits of work. It’s not enough to live on but could, potentially, lead to more work. It’s also a way to keep me engaged, active, employable, away from Twitter.

I’m now trying my maths skills (not always wise) to see if I can accept this work. It’s not enough to pay rent and bills and it seems I’d be a few pound better off on the dole – but it’s an opportunity. If I keep turning down work I’m unlikely to be the first choice in the future.

I’ve been told – repeatedly, threateningly – that I’m not allowed to do any work while signing on. Now I hear I can sign on up until my first pay packet, potentially, or can still claim housing benefit for one month and get a £100 job grant.

Of course, none of this will stop me struggling on a low income due to having just a few hours work – but it is helpful. It took me almost nine months of being unemployed to find this out. My understanding is that it is of no value to anyone who has been unemployed for less than six months.

Previously I’ve been told, “we’re not good at helping people in part-time work” or “if it’s less than 16 hours we can’t help you”. I’ve felt desperate and fed up as former employers and contacts have been in touch with various opportunities I’ve had to turn down because the Jobcentre computer says “no”.

The Jobcentre sees work as: full time work of 16 hours or more, part-time work of 16 hours or less and, if claiming with a partner, work of less than 24 hours per week. I’m child-free (Chaplin doesn’t count, apparently) so not entitled to In Work Credit. I’ve not been unemployed due to illness or disability so I am not entitled to Return to Work Credit. This is if you actually get these benefits when you apply anyway – I imagine it’s as difficult as claiming on insurance.

I have to do something to make a change. I sit home in my jogging bottoms, watching mind-rot afternoon telly, swearing at the screen, spilling tea down my front. Chaplin is in and out all day, once again happy and healthy, looking at me as if to say, “Have you been outside? Do you think you should go outside? You smell a bit.”

I keep in touch with people by computer. While I’ve written two PhD proposals (yes, two) that might lead to something, I’ve also not worked my way through the reading list as planned. I have, instead, watched more rubbish films than Mark Kermode but with a far less articulate response, shouting at the screen as butty sprays everywhere. This is usually the point when Chaplin thinks sitting outside in the rain is preferable.

I have no routine, now waking up late morning, sometimes as late as 2pm on occasion. This might sound luxurious but it is oddly depressing after a while. I’m also awake till the early hours or not sleeping through the night, getting up to watch the news then going back to bed. This is probably because I fall asleep during the day, exhausted by the banality of television’s offerings. I don’t want to live in a world where employment dictates our body clock but I miss having a routine.

So I think I’ll take the work. It’d be better than being sent back to entrepreneurial training scheme that will lead to … no work. I’ve had my fill of walk-on parts in League of Gentleman. I’ll take the risk because, while I’m scared of getting behind on my rent and bills (not credit cards, etc, they can wait), I’m more scared of being on the dole permanently. I’m now existing rather than living.

I came across an interesting website today which outlines the amount of unemployment benefit available to jobless workers across Europe.

In the UK we’re spongers, yes? We sit on our backsides, living off the backs of hard-earning taxpayers, right? We don’t want to work because benefits keeps us in the lifestyle to which we have become accustomed?

I know many readers don’t think like this but if you know someone who does, show them these figures for European unemployment benefits in 2007 for a single person with no dependents. In Euros.

The amount paid in the UK remains roughly the same today.

Country                       Wages     Benefits

Luxembourg                €32,604 – €21,346
Denmark                     €32,564 – €18,302
Netherlands                 €32,363 – €15,758
France                         €32,540 – €15,605
Portugal                       €32,288 – €14,323
Belgium                       €32,636 – €12,415
Finland                        €32,577 – €12,339
Austria                        €32,499 – €12,212
Sweden                       €32,643 – €11,924
Germany                     €32,631 – €11,821
Italy                             €32,529 – €11,179
Spain                           €32,625 – €10,522
Ireland                         €32,747 – €9,662
Greece                         €32,731 – €4,407
UK                              €32,381  – €3,631

My ultimate fear is if I don’t get some work for which I’m qualified and experienced and which I might actually enjoy then I’ll end up working anyway as the Tories bring in Workfare which will see me working full time for benefits in a job I don’t want to do.

So wish me luck and I’ll keep blogging … I’m still an unemployedhack, after all.

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6 thoughts on “Work fair …

  1. Get a job you lazy bum! The Tories have it damn right. Why the rest of us should pay for you to sit around waiting for the perfect solution to your occupational hiatus is beyond me. The Lefty trope that you judge a society by the benefits it doles out is disgusting, it’s not government’s job to keep you comfortable, it’s governments job to give you the opportunity to be comfortable. Which is why (starting from the beginning) state schooling, shared infrastructure, subsidised tertiary education, workfare schemes and a massively expensive health service to keep you well is provided and accessible to all, paid for by the likes of me. Here’s a thought, maybe you could start your own business, or if you’re really strapped perhaps a stint in Tesco’s/M&S/McDonalds would show you some humilty and give you a routine. Apparently the longer you’re out of work the worse it gets, and after 2 years you’re statistically more likely to die than get another job. From the article above you come across as a lazy wanker, PhD proposals, work offers or no.

    • You don’t think we should judge a society by the “benefits it doles out”? I don’t suppose you complain when the government “doles out benefits” to corporations, enabling their ever-greedier pursuit of profits at the expense of society as a whole? Isn’t it far more “disgusting” to allow companies to operate virtually outside standards of common decency, cutting jobs and avoiding tax just to make more and more money?
      How is someone who’s unemployed supposed to start their own business? Starting a business requires funding. How are they supposed to “get a job” when they are deemed to be overqualified for most jobs (you seriously think a burger bar would employ a mature, professional graduate with years of experience when naïve school-leavers are ten a penny?) and when there are simply far more job seekers than job vacancies in professional fields?
      Sounds like you’ve never been unemployed, but how confident are you that won’t change? If you lost your job tomorrow, would you seriously work for minimum wage in a supermarket, knowing that it simply wouldn’t cover your rent, utility and food bills? Would you seriously be willing to lose your home just to avoid being a “lazy bum”?

  2. Good luck!
    I know well how depressing it can get sleeping late and often. It’s not the fact that you’re tired; it’s that you just can’t see the point in doing anything else.
    Well done for doing something else. Well done for doing the maths and for taking the risks, and for sharing what you feel so other people who feel the same can know they’re not alone.

  3. “a job you lazy bum”
    I am sorry that you are such an unhappy person and that you hate your own job so much. “unemployedhack” continues to “hack” and therefore continues to practice his trade through his blog. I for one, find that a trouble shared is a trouble halved. “Hack” shares beautifully, and for that I think he is not lazy and not deserving of a McCameron job with McDonals, McTescos, Mc&S… he is deserving of a job where he can earn a living through his writing.

    “judge a society by the benefits it doles out”
    There are many people who are judging society by the benefits it doles out to banks, workfare agents, workfare clients, multinational tax evaders … not all of the 99% are unemployed, and not all of the 99% believe that it is ethical to manage an economy for the benefit of the 1% being doled out all the benefits of huge profits, high pay, high bonuses on the back of your taxes. How much of your taxes goes to the scaffoldings that support the financial and political status quo in our country. “Hack” wasn’t always unemployed. “Hack” will not be unemployed for ever. “Hack” is a super human being and he doesn’t deserve the unkindness of strangers who call themselves names like “jerk”.

    “the opportunity to be comfortable”
    Unemployment of any length is not an opportunity to be comfortable. Never has been, never will be. The only people who are comfortable during bad economic times are the people lucky enough not to have been made redundant. The word “redundant” is indicative of what could be said to you “jerk” at any moment. What would you do if you became “redundant”? Is your life’s effort only worth a McCameron job?
    “to keep you well is provided and accessible to all, paid for by the likes of me”
    You seem to be giving yourself a lot of self-importance here. Please don’t set yourself for a massive eye opener within four weeks, G-d forbid, of someone making you “redundant”. If you think that “Hack” doesn’t appreciate all that you are doing for him. But does Maggie Thatcher appreciate what you are doing for her? Because what she was paid in benefits last year is the on average equivalent of to the Jobseeker’s Allowance plus Council Tax Allowance of 125,000 unemployed people such as myself or “Hack” (or even you, during the course of the economic gloom that 2012 promises to be).

    “you could start your own business”
    It takes capital to start a business. What business would you start if you were in the same shoes as “Hack”? Who would you turn to for the capital? How long would your new business likely to survive, 12 months? 24 months?

    Self-employment is one answer, not ‘the’ answer to a buoyant first world economy – I would say that a shorter working week and full-employment for all is another answer. Full-time employment should not be a privilege for an (overworked) minority – Another answer could be for those in full-time employment to volunteer to share their full-time job with a jobseeker. Now THAT would be self-sacrifice! “Hack” and I would be grateful to you for the rest of our working lives! You would be a true hero, “Jerk”, you honestly would.

  4. I’ve been reading this blog as a lowly trainee, who’s only been on the job for a year yesterday, but I wanted to break my silence…

    It took me five months in the dole queue in 2010 before I got my current posting on a tiny regional weekly.

    The money is awful, it’s 350 miles from home and 300 miles from the city I really want to live in – but at least I’m writing (more or less)

    And I believe that if you’re doing something you really want to do, then it’s got to be worth it… No matter how poorly you are recompensed.

    (I’ve got to believe that.)

    I don’t know if any of this helps you with your situation at all. But if I was you, I would take the bits of work – it’s always better to keep your hand in.

    And you never know, one day that bit of work might blossom into something more.

    Either that or you’ll miscalculate and get stuck out in the wilds of the Westcountry, like I did.

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