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.