It’s a grim fact of life that job losses are rising, and those who escape the first wave of redundancy fear whether their positions are really secure, as companies continue to wield the scythe. A few of my friends have already succumbed. They all work in different industries, but many of them are especially vulnerable to the economic crisis – advertising, training and banking. But even in industries where jobs used to be pretty safe and redundancies relatively unusual, the layoffs have been ruthless.
Finding a new job, especially in this climate, is tough and unless you’re lucky enough to have substantial savings, then you’ll be relying on the Jobseeker’s Allowance. But is it possible to survive on it? And what exactly is life like ‘existing’ on the Jobseeker’s Allowance? Over the next two weeks I have been challenged by MSN to find out more by living on the equivalent amount of cash.
So how much do you get? It does vary and there are a number of options. There are two types of Jobseeker’s Allowance – contributory based (based on your National Insurance contributions) and income-based. For the purpose of this experiment I will be ‘claiming’ the over 25 year old single person’s allowance of £60.50 a week. £60.50 a week won’t go far and our budget will need some serious adjustment. DJ will effectively have to cover the mortgage payments during the challenge as the money I’ll be claiming won’t cover my half of the payments.
It frightens me that if we were really both out of work and claiming the couple’s allowance of £94.50 a week – £378 a month – it wouldn’t even cover our mortgage, let alone anything else. You can claim for mortgage interest payments but there is a waiting period of 13 weeks to qualify. It’s no surprise that friends who are in this situation are only able to keep their homes because their partners are supporting them. Another friend had to move back in with her parents. However, if you rent and have savings of less than £16,000 you can claim housing benefit or local housing allowance. You may also be eligible for council tax benefit, although the authorities will take into account again, your level of savings and any income your partner makes.
I have just been reading this pamphlet on the Job Centre Plus website about who qualifies for Jobseeker’s and who doesn’t, what you must do and how you must behave. As anybody on Jobseeker’s will know, you must be actively looking for work and you must be available to work for 40 hours a week. You must visit the Job Centre office when you are told to – every two weeks to sign on – and you must be available to do a job interview with 48 hours notice. It’s a grey area but if you decide to fill your time with something worthwhile but unpaid, such as volunteering, you could be in danger of losing your entitlements. There are so many rules and regulations that my head is swimming.
I’ll let you know how I get on next week.
Are you currently out of work and claiming the Jobseeker’s Allowance? How do you manage?
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