Frugal Jobseeker’s Challenge

Let’s face it – redundancy is the elephant in the room right now. I don’t like to be so depressing, but many of us are worried about losing our jobs, if it hasn’t already happened.

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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54 Responses to Frugal Jobseeker’s Challenge

  1. Christine says:

    If you genuinely have to life on job seekers allowance and don\’t have any savings or anyone in the house to help you it is hardly living. The money pays for food, a telephone, either internet or TV but not both, and the minimum of heating. You will have no social life, no chance of clothes, no chance of feeding your pets and if you have to go to an interview in your "travel to work" area where you can\’t claim expenses to cover your travel then you may well have to forgo a meal. Sending out job applications is another expense – especially if the prospective employer wants it done on a form that has to be posted back and not via the internet. It\’s a good thing that most libraries have internet connections as this allows you to look for jobs on-line if you can\’t afford to do it at home. The trick of keeping the job centre happy is to keep a written record of every application you make and any reply you get. You can then show them this. If you keep a copy of the application you send and clip the reply to it this comes in handy when you go in for a 13 week review (yep another hurdle). If you can go into the job centre once a week and apply for a job from their system (even if you know you won\’t get it) you are keeping them happy. They then have proof that you are doing what you should. It used to be two applications a week for a job but that might include ringing up an agency and sending in your CV (do it on line of course and keep the email). If you have debts such as credit card to pay off, well there is no chance. And the rent you are paying in the private sector will be more than the housing benefit that you get. Volunteering is not a problem if you only do a few hours a week and your provider knows that you may have to go for an interview at short notice. Food shopping is done just before the supermarket closes when bread and vegetables are reduced. There are people who can make one chicken do five or six meals by adding vegetables and pulses. You learn to peer in corners for dented tins with a price marked down, that beans on toast is really a meal and that vegetarian recipes using beans and pulses will extend the non existent money a long way. So – ho hum. No going out. No telephoning friends for a gossip. Walk places, go to the library, eat cheaper brands, cook three meals in one go, off to bed early to save on the heating. Leave the telly and radio off, read free newspapers, scrounge anything going free. Welcome to the world of the dole. It\’s three times as hard as living on a pension.

  2. Timothy says:

    In many parts of the Western World, unemployment benefit is linked to earnings. To those of the recent claimants who have never been on benefit, the UK rates come as a huge shock. Whilst it is true that both housing benefit and council tax benefit are payable from the start of the claim, it is only available if the claim is paid on a means tested basis ie. income based. The most important point to note however is the rules on mortgages. The 13 week qualifying period only starts running if there is an underlying entitlement to income based benefit. So if you\’ve been working for a number of years paying Class 1 NI and you\’ve been made redundant, you will automatically qualify through the relevant Income Tax Years (RITYS) to contribution based benefit. This does not passport to income based benefit unless you claim it and only at the end of the contribution based period (up to 6 months). So any reader unfortunately about to make a claim with a mortgage would be well advised to insist on making an income based JSA claim from the start of the claim – even if they qualify for JSA (C).The other point about mortgages is that the Government recently enhanced the amount of mortgage on which the interest,not the capital, will be paid from 100K to 200K, which is a great help for those who had to buy in the over-heated parts of the housing market, especially the South East. Beware though, this extra help only lasts for 2 years! The good news is that the interest payable by DWP is currently well in excess of market rates, so most should benefit.

  3. Popsie says:

    Hi, I lost my job at the beginning of December. I was working part time and I was attending college part time too. I was informed by local job centre, that because I was attending college for more than 16 hours a week, I was not entitled to JSA, nor was I entitled to Income support as my son is over 16 and at college! So I asked the question, if my college course was 15.5 hours a week I would be entitled to JSA… to which the response was Yes!!!!If someone is on JSA for long enough they ensure that you attend courses to supposedly improve the individual\’s opportunity of being offered a job… Yet the job centre do not offer advice on setting out CVs, or how to search for jobs or encourage the individuals to maybe go out and "Sell themselves", i.e approach companies off their own inititiatve and start making relationships with HR Departments of companies that they might want to work for! That is how I got my previous job, I sat on the phone, phoning round local companies, and I researched information using google. It is not rocket science… yes, lots of negative responses, but if you go into the cold calling scenario with the mind set of, I expect a No and if the person says yes or maybe… that\’s a positive!Upshot of my comment is that I manipulated the truth, and went to sign on. I got to my local job centre to be informed that I had actually been booked into another job centre, miles away, and not reachable by public transport from my town. I asked what I was supposed to do as I have no car and am meant to be in the other town… for NOW! No apology was offered, just told to go and use the phone over there to reschedule appointment.I had been out of work for circa 3-4 weeks by this time.I phoned said number, only to hear at the end of the line… My town\’s local jobcentre! I went a tad ballistic and said that I am standing in reception of the same building as you, yet I have to phone you to reschedule an appointment due to a call centre\’s operators error!!!!!I attended said appointment, only to have the advisor treat me like a piece of poo on the end of her shoe, and have my CV criticised. I said, please do not criticise my CV, I have worked in recruitment, I have an HR Qualification and I have removed myself from a college course – so that I can sign on. I was attending college course to actually make myself more employable and versatile, yet I am being penalised for this. I was then asked to come back on a specific date to do another sign on. I said that I would be visiting my brother in Holland, as this was over the Xmas period. She said well you are not entitled to JSA as you are not avaialble for work 24/7.So, it appears, as well as being down and out of a job, even if you have commitments made, you are not entitled to honour them either! Because an individual is an unemployed out of work piece of scum and the government want to try and push you as far down as possible. Yet, being made redundant was not really a considered career option I would make!!!!!I am now back in employment and back on my college course, albeit one day a week. But how long the job will last? Who knows!!!!

  4. ray says:

    I am fortunate to be working at present, but I have spent half of my working life as unemployed. I am not proud of that fact nor am I ashamed of it, to me it is just a part of my life and as a result, I am often asked by friends or friends of friends for advice on how to cope with unemployment.I have found the best way to build a working relationship with the jobcentre staff is to treat them as human beings, remember, they get a lot of abuse from customers every working day and if you disagree with them on someting such as the layout of you CV, thank them for thier advice and tell them that you will take it into account (even if you don\’t use it).Ask them if there are any courses running at the moment that you could do via the jobcentre or if there are any places available at the local jobclub, they may well tell you that you are not eligible as you haven\’t been signing for long enough, but politely point out that it would be better to give the place to someone who wants to go and therefore make full use of the resources available than to give it to someone who is only going because they have to go. This not only shows that you are willing to help yourself, but it shows them that your are aware of the pressures that they are under and will improve your relationship with your adviser too.I also tell people to stop smoking (good for thier health and when unemployed a crucial saving too). I encourage them to walk whenever possible, if they have a car only use it for essential journey\’s. When shopping look for the cheaper brands of the items you would normally buy, check the details on any special offers and see if you are actually saving money.I encourage people to do some voluntary work as it helps keep them in the work routine, shows a willingness to a potential employer, widens your social network and you get to learn new skills, yes the paperwork from the jobcentre is a pain, but I consider it a mere slight irratation.Keep a note of every job you apply for and every reply but don\’t ever, ever, ever take a rejection personally. The best thing to do is if you see a job that you want, apply and give it your best shot and when you have sent your application….forget it and move on, if you get an interview, think to yourself afterwards what could I have done differntly…then learn from it, if you don\’t get the job, then it is the company that is losing out on a valuable assest, you have gained valuable experience to help with your next interview.One thing I must say is this, keep a good set of clothes for interviews, including footwear, and dress appropriately. There\’s not point going to a building site for a job as a labourer dressed in a suit…yes it\’s a bit obvious, but when your dealing with the trauma of becoming unemployed you can sometimes forget such things.One final thing is that JSA etc is not meant to pay for holidays, running a car etc it is meant to give you suffient money to pay for the essentials such as food and shelter, so be grateful you getting it in some parts of the world if you don\’t work, you don\’t get any money.

  5. errol says:

    While everyone is feeling the hurt of unemployment right now please spare a thought for new graduates. I personally graduated in June 2008 and despite brief part time work in jobs that required no qualifications and had high staff turnover rates I have been on the dole near enough for nine months now. As I worked part time for those six weeks my claims didn\’t link up so I get no help from the jobcentre concerncing new deal. I do volunteer but and although it makes people feel better it doesnt pay the bills and I havent noticed any employers becoming more interested in my CV because of it yet. I can imagine the frustration for those that have worked hard all their life just to fall at the last hurdle. An extra 5 years of studying and massive debts- and the reward? 48 pounds odd a week. In the prime of their life, full of potential with nothing to show for it. Watching your friends from school who left at 16/18 and now work full time having money to enjoy themselves while you shop in the reduced section at ASDA is heartbreaking. I know im not financially as worse off as some- I dont have a mortgage or a family to support but isnt it better to have loved and lost than never to have had the financial means to find love at all? Im not saying all girls are materialistic but would you personally want to go out with someone who couldnt even afford to go out?

  6. melissa says:

    HiI lost my accounts job at the beginning of January and as much as I hate living on job seekers allowance I\’ve never been happier.. I hated accounts and have always been more interested in the arts and photography. So the day after I lost my job instead of sending out more and more CV\’s to uninterested agencies I put my glass jewellery on etsy and have been trying to sell stuff on that. Next I\’m going to hit the shops and wow them with my products! Of course it\’s not easy living on such low money but I figured that I never saved much anyway when I was working in banking so it makes no difference really. I\’m about to learn a new skill, ceramics and if you are on the dole then courses are much much cheaper so that\’s great as well.Cheer up everyone, Summers comming, it\’s not so bad.

  7. Peter says:

    Ahh… so welcome to the club of enforced job seekers allowance.Now i am sure there will be many many of you that are just loosing their job, that will have been banging on about the job seekers allowance brigade that get it so so easy and that are also lazy so in so\’s that just don\’t want to work.Ahh but now it happening to you…. so we are now all so concerned about how we can survive on £60 for a single person or £94 for a couple.It will be difficult very very difficult mostly for those that were used to a large wage coming in.Would any off use have paid a second thought for those that are being forced in to having too live of that £60 or £94 a week if it hadn\’t happened to use………most likely not because you would have been think "It will never haappen to me" oh and when the crunch is over use will most likey fall back to hammer on about those lazy laze-a-bouts and CUT CUT CUT there benefits, force them to take jobs, which when your offer them, you will be saying the same thing as them…. "I am not doing that kind of work for that small amount of money".Most people do not want to be on job seekers and it Governments place to find job\’s for its people and when they can\’t they should be giving a decent living standard to its unemployed, yes make condition for the right to receive it but don\’t punish them fo being forced out of work by greedy bosses that are only looking out for their Fat, Greedy seleves.Anway my rant is over… Welome and happy job hunting… oh remember to count the pennies not the calories, you may even have to give up your evening outs.

  8. AK says:

    I used to be on JSA. I got the lesser amount of £47.95, because I\’m under 25 and single. It wasn\’t enough to live on, but I got by. It\’s okay living on JSA if you can have your family help you out. And the Job Centre pretty much relies on you to get help from your family. I live at home with my mum, her partner and my older sister. Occasionally, like during my birthday, they\’d give me extra money. I only bought what I needed. Clothes were pretty expensive to get and I had to spend weeks saving up to get them when my old ones got too threadbare. I kept all my change from shopping and created a penny jar from an empty tub of coconut oil I kept. When it was full, I used my local coinstar and had the cash converted into notes and pounds. I did a lot of online shopping and looked for free p+p where available. I bulk bought toiletries to get free p+p and so I wouldn\’t have to buy them for months down the line. I switched to slightly cheaper products.That\’s about it, really. Although I\’m not on JSA any more, as I got too ill to work. The stress from the place got to me and made me want to commit suicide if I didn\’t get a job. After 3 months, you have to go and do 6 intensive interviews that really put the pressure on you to find a job. I got very stressed. I did a work placement and a work trial and stayed on income based seekers for about a year before having to come off it and sign myself off as sick due to the stress. I\’m Bi-polar and the pressure wasn\’t helping my depression at all. It also pushed back the good progress I was having with my psychiatrist, so I had to see him more regularly.My mum was also on job seekers last year (contribution based),but after 6 months they reviewed her and stopped her money, leaving her with nothing to live on. It was a crappy time for all, as we relied on the money she got from her job and we had to live very tightly for a while. Thankfully, she\’s now got a job and an employer was willing to take her on, even though she had no experience in the job she now does when she started.I\’m now at college training, since I left school early with hardly any qualifications due to the stress and depression I had caused by my parents\’ divorce. My doctor agrees that rather than me getting a job at the moment, it\’s best that I get some qualifications and then try. I know I\’ll be more successful when I do.

  9. V. says:

    Anyone who says JSA alone is enough to live on is lying. It doesn\’t pay for food, it doesn\’t pay for any ammount of heating, it doesn\’t cover even the most basic of bills, by which I mean essentials like soap, toothpaste etc. I was renting a bedsit while claiming the £45 a week ammount. I had no money for tokens for the electric meter, meaning if I had of somehow been able to afford food that needed to be cooked, I wouldn\’t of been able to cook it. I lived off of Somerfield\’s own sliced bread, 19p a loaf, eating it dry with plenty of water to wash it down with, because the housing benefit I was entitled to didn\’t cover the entire of my rent.In the middle of winter I had an inspection from my landlord who noticed damp was setting in around the windows. When I told him it was because I couldn\’t afford to run the heating, all he said was to leave the windows open. So, I either starve to death attempting to run storage heaters, or I develop a chest infection. Great choice.At the time I had a partner who did a much as he could to try to help me. I didn\’t dare tell the job centre I had a boy friend incase they took his support in to account and stopped some of my money. Eventaully, after the worst of the winter months were over, there was so much mould in my living/ slash bed room that a friend of mine who works with the council\’s own health authority deemed the flat a health hazard. And still, no further help was forthcoming. I applied for the additional support three or four times, and each time was told that I was getting more than enough money for someone in my circumstances, and was basically told to stop being so greedy.Luckily, my boyfriend\’s parents like me, and as soon as his mother saw the place I was living in they offered to let me stay with them. Once I stopped having to spend each weekend queing at the doctors as a result of living conditions my so called finacial aid had regulated me to, I found a job.But, since Christmas, the shifts have dried up, and I am now back on JSA. I have qualifications, training and experiance in three different areas of employment. But I can\’t find any work. And my poor, long suffering partner is back to paying for everything while I struggle to pay even £10 a month towards our food bill.And all the people at the local joke centre can say is to do my best, and to keep looking. Meanwhile they waste my time calling me in for extra appointments, and making me wait up to an hour after my appointment time before I actually see anyone- time I could be spending sending out applications and spec letters.You know, the things I\’m meant to be doing but, thanks to them, can rarely afford to do

  10. julie says:

    Hi, I was made redundant in August last year on the first day back from maternity leave. As I had worked for the previous 2 years I could claim my £60.50 a week contribution based JSA for 182 days which has just finished. That\’s it now. It doesn\’t matter that we have two children under 3 to look after and very limited childcare available (only 1 family member who works herself and loves locally and we obviously can\’t pay for it), because I have a husband he is meant to fix it all! He just about pays for all essentials, bills etc, our tax credits and child benefits are the food budget and he has £30 month left for himself… It doesn\’t matter that I have worked all my life without ever having claimed a penny up until now. Also because his salary is apparantly \’too much\’ we don\’t get any help with childcare costs when I do find a job, and still get the lowest tax credits of £40 a month. He apparently should earn under £14k, and then we would qualify (so said by a lady at the jobcentre.. nevermind the fact that we would lose the house and not be able to pay the bills or feed ourselves) silly me, it\’s his fault! Every job I look at seems to pay less than the childcare actually costs for 2 kids or leave me with the grand sum of £20 a week (which I would likely spend on travelling to work) so it all seems a bit impossible at the moment. We try to keep positive as it\’s no fun for anyone if we are down all the time but it\’s sure taking its\’s toll… Jools

  11. Jill says:

    Hi, I was made redundant on 31 October last year. I wasnt entititled to a redundancy payment and was given £7000 in lieu of notice. Thats about run out after paying bills etc. £60.50 a week is an insult. It\’s humiliating having to claim it and the other week after being 5mins late to sign on at my Jobcentre, where they have told me they wont be able to help me find a job, the jobsworth who works in there told me I had \’missed my slot\’ and wouldnt be able to claim!!! Wrong move Mr Jobsorth!!!! I did suggest that I could teach him some customer service skills andwould invoice el governmento accordingly – any money to be deducted from JSA ofcourse!!! Funny but I dont think they saw understood the joke….. You cant live on £60.50 a week. I was thinking of asking Tony McNulty to do so and see where it got him……..Keeping positive and was thinking about leading a revolution – any body want to join??Jillx

  12. Bob says:

    I\’m sure others have said it, but it is worth repeating….you don\’t \’manage\’. You exist. You stumble from one financial headache to the next. To really find out what it is like..don\’t do it for 2 weeks… do it for 2 months or 2 years. Then you would really understand the soul destroying bleakness of \’life\’ on the dole.

  13. barbs says:

    I\’ll second that Bob – you beat your head against brickwalls, rules, regulations and jobsworths. You feel like a criminal. You are often hungry often cold and often both. Many days when you wake up you wonder whether you can actually face another day. I\’m knackered now but will post my experiences tomorrow.

  14. barbs says:

    ps. Does anyone think a reality tv programme where some of our politicians are given \’new identities\’ and have to live on JSA for 6 months in a house with prepayment meters for gas and electric. Only a few quid in their pockets to start with of course and a not to brill credit rating? I reckon there\’d be fab viewing figure for it. Anyone got the right contacts?

  15. Nat says:

    Hi, im 23, i was made redundant in November 08, at the time i was renting a studio flat but had to give it up due to the redundancy, due to my age i am therefore not entitled to enough hosing benefit to cover my full rent or full council tax benefits. I get £47.95 a week JSA to live on and have had to move back to my mums. Some people may say im lucky that i have my mum but like you have all said you stumble through the financial worries. Its rediculous that just because i am under 25 i am entitled to less money yet still have the same bills to pay as everyone else. Ill join your revolution Jill. Things need to change with the country and soon.The Jobcentre doesnt help get people work, it doesnt give people adaquete help and advice they just want their figures to be correct to meet the government targets. Ive just had enough but theres nothing i can do about it.

  16. barbs says:

    Hi Jill, Natalie I\’ll join the revolution too

  17. janet says:

    after losing my full time job i was forced to claim jsa, but due to having worked all my life was entitled to contributions jsa, as a single parent with no financial help from my ex partner, no help with my mortgage , after 2 wks was forced to take on a part time job to get wtc and ctc,these two together are not enough to pay my mortgage and pay day to day living expenses, but due to the fact that i will loose my home due to arrears etc ,and being unable to make payments now, i thought i may as well achieve the same result working , i am constantly applying for full time work yet nothing as yet, i feel you are penalised for wanting to work , where as the lazy idol scum who sit on the social from when they leave school, and kids having kids of their own are living in luxury with everything paid, jsa is claimed by most people as a last resort, the sytem is a joke, hard working people receive decent amounts of help during hard times, not face losing everything they have spent years working hard for

  18. Susan says:

    After my husband\’s redundancy in October, and me not working, we received the princely sum of about £90!! I took temporary work over xmas, 16 hours for 4 weeks. My part of claim was taken away and our local authority also took half a month\’s council tax! Although my husband has insurance cover for the mortgage, interest only, the benefits agency has said anything over the interest payment will be classed as income. What else can we claim? All our savings have gone now, we still need gas,electric, phone,water. These bills alone come to in excess of £180 per month, leaving us skint. If I were younger and had kids we could claim so much more, or if we had never worked the state would provide. Get a grip government,you\’ve had our N.I now pay us!!

  19. helen says:

    Make sure you claim job seekers allowance stratight away. My first priority was to get a job when I was made redundant, not to see what handouts I could claim from the state. When my money finally came through, they would not back-date my claim, even though I had asked them to. I put a complaint in writing about this, but that was last September, to date I have had no response !So it would appear that as far as the Government are concerned, our first prority when we loose our jobs is to claim, claim, claim and not actually look for work !

  20. Unknown says:

    Two weeks on JSA won\’t give you a clue what it is like, you know that an end is in sight, for many in this day and age they will never get out of the benfits trap. Reality is when you have saved all your working life and find that all the scrimping and saving was for nothing, it must all be spent before any other benefits are available. It means not being able to pay in for a pension. That may not be a problem for those who are younger but for those over 45 it can be frightening, especially when we have politicians who may require all old age pensions to be pre-paid because the state can\’t afford it.Living on benefits is looking at marked down food and realising a 30p box of donuts is two and a half meals – never mind about healthy eating just get something – anything- that fills you up. This kind of lifestyle will cost you your long term good health – but when people have nothing they have to live that way.People staffing the jobcentres are paid not to give you what you might be entitled to – just remember that they are employed and you are not. There are discretionary payments around, it is up to the individual staff members to allocate these. This includes money for you to buy clothes for interviews – buy carefully so that things stay in fashion – for the more fashionable things buy in charity shopsIt is a disgraceful and disgusting situation, when I left the Jobcentre I felt unclean. I now get £53.10/week Carers Allowance to look after 2 elderly disabled parents 24/7 that equates to circa 30p/hour. There isn\’t a chance to look for a job, no chance for any real life, no future at all really. You learn how to live really cheaply, you learn to ignore the looks from others when you ask for discounts on everything, if anything needs replacing look to find something repairable – skips can be a happy hunting ground. Find out about free energy saving lightbulbs that the power companys give away – for many people they are useless as they only fit certain light fittings – many people have lots of them stacked away, just ask around.Above all try to keep your self respect – you have more reason for dignity than those in the Jobcentre or anywhere else, it is difficult, you can end up hating the world. The people who have mismanaged the world should all be made to live on JSA and the rest of us can shere their salaries!As for the training courses that they offer you, for the most part they are only useful keeping employees of the training company in a job – where are the jobs for the people doing the courses.

  21. Katrina says:

    My partner and I have been living on benefits and desperate for work, my partner lost his job November 08 as it was a seaonal job and they took back less people this year and he was one of the unlucky ones. I have just finished a course and there are no jobs for the career I want. In our local job center there are no jobs for unskilled work as we are only skilled in certain areas, I\’ve done 2 years of Hairdressing and my partner has done 4 years towards a drama/english career. It is impossible to live on £94.50 a week. We have had to take out 2 crisis loans and have to pay that back weekly so we get even less at the moment. We\’ve been homeless and at one point had to live on £47.50 between us for six weeks as the job center messed up. We are now in a run down 1 bedroomed flat, better than the b&b we were in before due to our homlessness. We usually live on 1-2 meals a day, forget healthy eating, it\’s whatever scraps are left in the cupboard that we can put together. We spend approximately £20 a week on food, all the cheap brands, and then we have to try and make up the rent which is difficult. No one has sat down and told us what options we have. We are living on bare minimum we are late teens very early twenties and have to look on when our friends are going out. When we tried to phone up to correct our benefits we found out that out of 20 staff at the benefits office in St Austell there are only 2 people that are qualified technicians that can change anything on your file and all the others can only take claims and then fob you off saying it should be ok next week. But finally after 6 weeks we got through to someone who could do it and that was that. Pure luck. The system is broken and we appreciate the influx of claims within the past 6 months due to the recession, but we are hungry, bored of being stuck in, and cannot even afford to buy a printer cartridge to do the next lot of CV\’s. The stress is constant and affects our everyday life. I definately thnk it would be a good idea for a few politicians to try this for 6 months, but they know we can\’t live on this so none of them would do it. This needs to be reviewed and action needs to be taken.

  22. Simon says:

    I\’ve been on JSA for over a year now, with the exception of a 2-week work trial and a 4-week temporary xmas job. Before that I had spent 3 years at University gaining studying computing, believing that it would help me to find a decent job. Despite countless job applications, interviews and assessments, I\’m still out of work. I get the equivalent of £60.50 per week, so I can\’t afford my own place, therefore I still live with my parents. I rarely go out, since the money I do get tends to go on food. I often wonder why did I bother spending all that time and effort earning the qualifications when there doesnt seem to be any jobs out there for me, which often leads to feelings of bitterness and resentment.As for the governments handling of the economic crisis and rising unemployment, I seriously doubt that they have even the slightest idea about what to do.

  23. derek says:

    JSA is definitely not enough for anyone to get by on. I was self employed and the credit crunch has decimated my business. I have paid my stamp all the time but now I come to claim alowance for being out of work for the second time in my life, ( the first time was for one week!) I find that i haven\’t paid enough to claim. however becuse I am living with a partner I can\’t claim anything! She is fantastic but is now paying for everything even though she can\’t afford to and if I was living alone I would be able to claim for lots of help, supposedly. I have lots of outgoings and have no way of paying them, not even the measly £60.50 for looking for work which I can assure you I am doing. I can only hope I strike lucky with a job application soon as it might not be only my job I lose as the pressures on peoples relationships in these situations are immense. Good luck to everyone on here and maybe government officials should take note of these postings and get a dose of reality.

  24. michelle says:

    im on jobseekers allowance as i lost my job in september 2008. i was on minimum wage then £5.73ph, but now im on only a mere fraction of that. if i was near pensionable age i would be looking forward to it as the current pension would be a payrise. apparently the average wage in the uk is £25,000per annum. the poverty line £16,000 per annum, the minimum wage is about £12,000 and yet the unemployed are expected to live on less than £10,00? for a start, why doesnt the goverment raise the minimum wage to bring everyone up to above the poverty line? fair enough my £55per week rent is paid by housing benefit, and council tax for a 1-bedroom flat is paid, but i pay for gas, electric, water, food, catfood, tv licence, and internet out of £60.50per week. i dont have a landline but use a pay as you go mobile which i rarely use. i have gas and electric meters: i put £20 credit in each every fortnight but it never lasts more than about 10 days. i am paying direct debit for water weekly, tv licence and internet monthly. food budget is whatever is left, about £10 a week, so i live off tescos vaue range. yes i have to buy the 43p toilet rolls etc. i am so skint i have to walk the round trip of 4 miles to the jobcentre tomorrow because i cant afford the busfare. i cant afford to go out; i really am not living, just existing hand to mouth. i have just about managed to keep my head above water since september but last week there wasnt enough in my account when a direct debit came and now i have had to pay late fees, bank fees, and payment failure fees. i can see i will have to give up the internet connection, although i dont think it should be a luxury in this day and age. its not that im bad with money, i just havent got any. its like running a car on empty and only putting a tiny amount of petrol in; it will only get you so far before everything grinds to a halt again. the jsa is going up by £5 to £65.50 per week in april, and that will make a difference (when youre on such a low amount, £5 is 12.5%) but i urge employment minister james purnell to consider raising it even more. they say that if you spend more than 10% of your income on utilities you\’re in fuel poverty; well i definitely qualify for that. i cant wait for the warmer weather when i wont have to spend over £10 per week on gas-heating.

  25. michelle says:

    spot the deliberate mistake! jobseekers allowance is going up £5 in april to £65, which is 8% (or 1/12) of £60. also theres a sentence that should read: tescos value range box of 4 toilet rolls for 43p.

  26. Susan says:

    Having worked all his life, getting employment although made redundant late 80\’s and again in 95 and in 2004, this time there appears to be no hope for my partner,ageism at its best, he applies relentlessly, no replies, no interviews, no feedback, NOTHING!! Yes, he is 54, yes he has a life-threatening illness,yes he s hard-working,honest,a good timekeeper,diligent etc but to no avail. His industry has collapsed, noone needs senior autocad architectural technicians with 36 years experience. No-one needs him – except me – and it\’s destroying me watching him get more depressed.We try to stay positive,turn the heating down,only use the car when absolutely necessary eg hospital appointments, now a radiator has gone "tits up". Luckily hubby has managed to isolate so we can still heat the rest of the house. A replacement is out of the question as it would cost over £200 just for the radiator!I had a temporary job,now ended, so we are both looking, desperately looking, jobcentre,job web sites,shop windows,word of mouth. We tried to put some money by less than £10000 but this has all been used against us when claiming. £1 off weekly benefit for every £250 over the £6000 limit, in our case, a clawback of over £15 per week, untl the money fell below £6000. We do not have private pensions to fall back on in 10years time, we have never had foreign holidays and have always been frugal and cautious with debt etc. Buying basics ranges in the shops has always been our mantra, but now everyone is doing the same so we usually miss out on short dated or reduced items.It is like living in Dickens\’ time. Message to Brown and Co – PLEASE SIR CAN WE HAVE SOME MORE!!!!

  27. Linda says:

    I would just like to agree with all the previous comments about having to live on 60.50 a week expecially about having to put money in the gas and electricity meters. When it was cold over Xmas time I was living in my front room only under a quilt with my cat and even he was shivering!!! Also if it wasnt for being able to borrow money from my mum I would have starved along time ago. What I would like to know is who set the rate of 60.50 a week to live on and just how precisely, did they get that figure? Is there a breakdown for it anywhere at all because much as I have searched on the internet I am blowed if I can find it!!!

  28. Linda says:

    P.S. I was also told by my jobcentre when I enquired about help with bus fares etc for interviews that that was what I was paid my jobseekers allowance for! So God only knows what you are supposed to actually live on!

  29. Unknown says:

    Redundancy strikes & i find myself on the dole for the first time in many years.Earlier experiences of the DHSS came from growing up in a single parent family in the 80\’sThe pro\’s & cons haven\’t raelly changed though.Living on £60.50 a week is dependent on your circumstances…Provided your single, without children, eat cheaply, dont need much heating, do own your house, but don\’t have a mortgage – or dont mind losing your home, don\’t need a car, dont smoke, dont drink, & really dont care for music, computers & moblie phones, fashionable clothes, make-up, you do have a confidence made of stone, a will of iron, & your health, then you\’ll be ok….for a while. (no i dont know anyone like that either).As far as JSA are conscerned, you should only need your interview suit, your c.v. & bfh (bus fare home) anything else is a luxury.Having said that the staff are a lot more frendly than they were in the early 80\’s, back then you were lucky to get £10.00 a weekSince then the system used is pretty much the same.The measley £60.50 is crap, especially when you consider how much of our taxes went to rescuing *ahem… "Bankers".But the argument ( probably from the daily mail mostly) would be that we shouldn\’t be comfortable on the dole, & we should probably be quite literally "hungry for work" as well as actively looking for it. (Easy to say when you have a job & can afford to buy the rag in the first place).Just as people like to splash out when they get a windfall, or a promotion, so we have to cut back when the fan gets all Gordon Brown. (mind you those of us who did put something away now have the unenviable experience of watching the interest dry up, as well as eating into thier life savings in order to maintain some sort of dignified lifestyle).Either way i hated being on the dole as a kid & i hate it now (& so do my kids), so it can teach people to go & into the world & make something, rather than waiting for handouts. & like the Vast Majority of the victims of this fiasco, i am "Hungry for Work", unfortunately, reaping the harvest from the perishing crop of vacancies has proved more difficult. Still, we can\’t just give up now can we……P.S loving the blog pipa

  30. david says:

    I\’ve been on JSA since Sep 08 and have to say that I am bewildered by the system that has been created. I have a wife and 3 kids so I receive the princely sum of around £86.00 per week, and have recently qualified for assistance towards my mortgage interest, but as with all things related to any claims; I\’ve been entitled to it since the beginning of January and am still awaiting my first payment. In essence the benefits systme is a great idea and having never had to claim before, I never really begrudged paying taxes because I assumed (wrongly) that I would be looked after should the need ever arise. After navigating the over complicated and unecessarily beuraucratic nonsense that has been devised by our Government, since last September, I have to say that the only people who get any real benefit from the system are those that play it; and it seems that because the people working within it have been conditioned to deal with the many individuals who are ded set on never working and getting some money for nothing, that when confornted with an individual who is actually looking for a job, they don\’t really know what to do. (and I\’m not saying it\’s just me who\’s looking for a job at my local JCP, but I think I\’m in the minority)What is further depressing and frustrating is that the system simply cannot cope with or offer any real meaningful support or advice to people looking for jobs above lower management. If you want a job working as a warehouse operative for example, they will let you use the phone to arrange your interview, pay for you to travel to the interview and offer advice on interview techniques, applications etc. But when it comes to seeking executive level work, one is greeted with a blank look and always told \’well the jobs on our system aren\’t really the type of work you\’d be looking for\’. Not a single person has even asked to see my CV, never mind offer any advice on improving it. As a result I\’ve loaned money from family and paid a private consultant to help me prepare a good CV and market myself effectively, will the government pay me a penny towards this? Of course not. Will they assist with stamps, envelopes, paper, ink etc? Of course not. Will they pay for you to travel to meet a Director of a company that may be recruiting in the future? No! To get payment for travel under the travel for interview scheme you have to get the companyyou are visiting to confirm to the job center that (a) you are being interviewed for a vacant position (speculative meetings out of the question then); (b) the job is permanent, and; (c) the job is over 16hrs per week.Looking for an executive level job in the current market is a case of a lot of effort for little reward, but you cannot get any assistance to help with networking or marketing. The Job Centre can only help you look for a job in the paper and apply for it; ask for any more than that and you just get funny looks.In answer to the main question; it\’s highly unlikely that you can survive on JSA if you have a family and a mortgage. If you don\’t have any savings then things will be bleak, we were lucky in that we had some savings put aside. My incoming benefits are far below my essential outgoings (mortgage, utilities, tv licence, house insurance) and I do find that there is a real need to put food in the mouths of my children, so that cost has to then be added to the already negative balance, never mind the constant demand from schools for £10 per child for a trip to a museum or just travelling to the JCP to sign on, or god forbid – actually trying to take the kids somwhere for a day out.Money is tight for everyone out of work and everyone\’s situation is slightly different, I would guess though that anyone with a mortage and 3 growing boys will have the same things as me to say; the money isn\’t enough to almost scrape by and without the help of the extended family and savings we would be in huge trouble.

  31. V. says:

    Just want to say that everyone reading these comments should remember that not everyone on JAS gets the huge sum of £60 a week. Despite the changes to the weekly allowance meaning everyone should get close to £50 at least, there are no end of loop holes allowing them to pay people less than that, and I, like a lot of other people have been stuck in that trap and am only recieving £45 a week instead.

  32. Linda says:

    Hello again. Just wanted to add that if you were unfortunate like me when the snow hit at the beginning of February to not have any decent footwear (my one pair of boots had a massive hole at the back and I was quoted £45 by a cobbler to repair them!) or decent winter clothing then I had to resort to a budgeting loan and am now having to repay it back at the princely sum of £7.26 a week! So that means an £14.52 short every fortnight now. I also because of losing my job had my house repossessed last year. That was before the government changed the time limit to thirteen weeks before you got help with mortgage payments. I put £30000 deposit down on that property and paid 6 years worth of mortgage payments on it before it all went horribly wrong. I have always worked since I left school and have only been unemployed this last 15 months and I cant see myself ever getting back on my feet properly again!! I am sick of the jobcentre NOT being interested in me because I can read and write properly!!! Sorry for having a rant but there it is! So good luck to ever it is living on jsa for a fortnight or so, just think if it was a year or so down the line…

  33. Unknown says:

    Been unemployed since September and currently claiming JSA. I worked as a Business Development Manager and was sacked due to failing to hit deliberately impossible targets. It was better for the company (a small firm struggling at the time) than making me redundant, and saw two service engineers suffer a similar fate in the same month.Because of this the JSP argued I had been sacked and was not due any money for six months, I fought my corner writing my own accounts and supplting supporting evidence and received a letter on the 6th February telling me following review I\’d receive £60.50 a week and thought I\’d won. I signed on again on Feb 9th, but 5 days later there was no money in my bank. I then went into the JCP to investigate, and was told I\’d been sanctioned from Feb 6th and would receive no money for 10 weeks. When I asked what do I live on and that I was relying on the payment that had been due the reply was \’You\’re lucky, they could have given you six months!\’ I finally received a letter informing me of the sanction in early March, five weeks after my money had been cut!I\’ve since appealed for the 10 week sanctioned period, but the first form was returned with a snotty note telling me I\’d used the wrong form (the form was given to me under specific advice from my JCP), I\’ve filled in the right form but two week\’s later I\’ve heard nothing – and I\’m nearing the end of my 10 week period! I\’m about to sign on today and you can be assured they\’ll hear something from me!To be fair the JCP I use does try, and I\’m always civil even when complaining (never get angry in the JCP, it\’ll get you nowhere), but as hard as they try the system behind them is broken and unfit for purpose. Luckily my partner found a new job in the private sector last year and is doing well in one of the few jobs that\’s secure in the current economic climate, if she was still working for the NHS we\’d be screwed. As it is I have to borrow from family to keep on top of the mortgage and bills, and can\’t pay any support for my 12 year old son. As for jobs, I apply for every suitable vacancy, scour the web, talk to agents, network but my skills went west eight years ago with the collapse of any large scale semiconductor manufacturing in the UK and since I\’ve jumped from pillar to post to stay employed. I don\’t have a trade, my core skills are redundant, and I\’m relying on more generic skills. account development, managerial experience etc. Problem is a hundred other applicants have similar skills in every job I go for. Still, summer\’s coming, the sun\’s shining, and I hated (and I mean HATED) the last job I was working. I have a little motto for times like this.. Ne te confundamant illegitami – don\’t let the \’bar-stewards\’ get you down!

  34. Unknown says:

    Hi! I am very much annoyed and angry of how the government react to our economy situation, nothing much is really going on other than plan this and plan that and those people responsible for the economy are getting away with pretty much all our taxes and here we are suffering from over £60 job seekers allowance. Governments are straight-away to the rescue with all our taxes to boost banks and other banks, giving away our taxes earnings almost throughout our lives, and once we are un-employment £60 per week is like going through a tunnel with so many questions, intimadations and forms to fill-in before you actually even get this money and this is not even close half to your earnings.And when you go to the bank, they are not even supporting your situations, when it\’s your tax that saves their business in the first place!!! You missed one payment and you are already on bad credit and it seems like you owe them big time!! I DONT UNDERSTAND!!!! I\’ve been made redundant and worried that my landlord will kick me out as they dont accept housing benefit!! just praying for the best! I sympathise will everyone here! at least i\’m not alone!

  35. Nicky says:

    The amount clawed back on savings is huge & the £16,000 limit is very different from the reality. You would only get the full amount on the much lower threshold which varies between benefits (if you qualified) and then for every £250 they assume an interest gain by you of £1/week.So if you had £250.01 they would remove £2/week off each benefit and so on. Also you are lucky you aren\’t long term sick as ANY attempt to enjoy the sunshine, God forbid keep fit on a "good day" eventhough you could be bed/housebound much of every day on average, and you risk being accused of being a cheat…as a result you hide away lacking basic sunlight & your teeth start to crumble & your bones weaken & then when they re-assess you the process will take a good, hell-filled EIGHT MONTHS. Welfare Reform WILL , like the CSA, cost people their lives due to the unbearable stress & bullying we endure.BTW … at least being house/bedbound much of the time on average my goose feather duvet keeps me warm since I couldn\’t afford ANY heating. Another way to cut costs is to turn your hot water on only once or twice a month, otherwise use the kettle for hot water. Add to this the stress of having a slum landlord (the Council turns a blind eye since it would put the rents up if conditions were improved leaving tenants vulnerable) who CAN kick you with a few days notice & being increasingly outnumbered by Poles & Russians blocking stairways, filling halls with rubbish & increasing the fire risk by smoking on the stairs & this existence is hell.

  36. Paul says:

    Hi I have been working for the past 10 years up until 6 months ago when I had to leave work due to illness. I was told that I had to claim incapacity benefit, so I did only to get told that they would not pay as I have not paid enough national insurance ! which I told them that they were wrong as I have been in work for the last 10 years solid. Anyway I had to claim income support instead so I did, and all I got was £60 a week. 8 weeks later I received a letter stating that I had to go for a medical to see if I was entitled to income support. I attended and 7 days later I was told that I was no longer entitled to claim income support as I was fit to work !and that I had to claim JSA although I had been in and out of hospital and had 2 operations in the last 5 weeks and told that I could not go back to work at all as my illness was progressive !!. I went do to the local job centre and asked to claim JSA and the reason why, as we were going though the form etc I was asked about the illness I was suffering from and the effects and any treatment I had. So I reeled it all of, theen I was told that I could not claim JSA at all and that I had to claim incapacity benefit. Now I was told that I could mot reclaim incapacity / income support for SIX MONTHS !! as I had failed the medical.So i was stuck in limbo could not claim JSA or reclaim incapacity / income support, so what do I claim ?? nothing at all !!!!In the end I had to apeal against tne desicion reguarding the medical assesment, I sent all the letters I had from the hopital including all the addmissions , discharge, and any operations I had undergone to the appeal. in the mean time I was givern hardship alowance of only £44 a week !! which was crap as I live in a privately rented 3 bed house at £650 a month rent to pay !! Yes I get housing benefit and that is only £415 a month so I have to find £232 thats with out the other bills (gas / water / electric )I had to live on £44 a week for 5 months before the appeal was concluded and I won !! and the Jobcentre / DWP was told that they were in error and were order that I was givern to benefit I was entitled to and to backdate it from when it was stopped !!If which the jobcentre did after they deducted what I already had been paid.I now get paid £86.50 a week and that is crap when I have to pay the bills the gas. electric and water are £50 a week !! that leaves me £36.50 to pay for shopping, phone, tv licence. it just not enough !! And now 4 months later My illnes had had a devasting effect were I can no bearly walk and in constant pain. I now get DLA and I use that to pay £232 to the rent which leaves me £30 a month – not good. I would move but cant afford it. even tried getting a place from the local council but they say the current house I am renting it ok and do not need to move !! although the stairs are a F**king nightmare.Bottom line the Jobcentre /DWP are useless and they offer no help to the people that realy need it !, I have been in work for years and paid taxes, then had to stop due to illness. I am now disabled (although I hate it) and what help do I get ?The truth is I get no help or support at all !!! and its really depressing,when theres people the do not want to work at all and sponges of the jobcentre / DWP and get what they want ! and theres people like me who desperately need the help and support just get ignored.why dont the government wake up and give the help and support to people who really need it especially to the peaple that have been made redundant and own there own houses etc, instead of bailing the banks out !!

  37. Unknown says:

    Update here…I\’ve just lost my sanction appeal as my partner works more than 16 hours per week, and when I hit 6 month\’s of claiming JSA in April and have to re-apply for Income Support I will receive nothing in my current situation. So, no help with the mortgage, I\’m having to pay full council tax at well over £100 per month despite the house being a 2 bed mid-terrace and have no personal income whatsoever. This despite providing hard evidence that under these conditions after paying the essentials I am over £150 a month short. Even if I just got the £60.50 a month it would bridge this gap, but no chance. However I did get to speak to one of the people processing these claims, and here came the revelation… After an initial stalemate in the conversation where although he agreed our income wasn\’t enough to cover costs but there was nothing he could do \’as he was governed by the rules of the system\’ he finally admitted he was taking calls like mine all day long and that the system was not set up to deal with people like those of us on here and the current economic conditions. I just wish I\’d taped the conversation (not that I\’d ever do that) as that admission from a DWP employee would be priceless. Don\’t worry though, I have a plan. I\’m going to learn a foreign language, something exotic, and spend my last JSA payment on a return trip on the Dover-Calais ferry. Then I\’m going to chuck my passport in the Channel on the way back and bingo! Let the cash roll in!

  38. David says:

    I know someone very close to me who is on Jobs seeker allowance and NO it is NOT enough to live on. The biggest problem for this person has been to keep warm becuase of the extremely high cost of energy coupled with these "pay as you use" meters. It beats me how some people make a career out of it and still manage to drive around in flashy cars, these people HAVE to getting income from other sources. The government can greatly assist the unemployed in two keys ways:Allow people to take a temporary job and then slip straigh back seemlessly into the benefits system once the end ends, at the moment it death to anyone on benefits taking on a temporay job, it just isn\’t sensible to do so.Stop the all or nothing culture, there should be a sliding scale allowing people to take low paid work and claime some benefits. My friend can only take a job paying so much because once in work ALL benefits stop, therfore ALL low paid work has to be rejected. Why for example could the government not pay half of everything, e.g. council rent, council tax, that way everyone wins. Also it would stop the "I won\’t take th e job because I\’m beter of on benefits culture", maybe it is just too simple for Gordon and his chums.As it is likely that long term unemplopyment will rise, changes will HAVE to be made, Gordy over to you………………….

  39. jan says:

    i am a 48yr old single women who as worked all her life, i got laid off 6 wks ago, and to recieve £60.50 a week to live on is so cruel, out of that i have to pay, gas,electrc, water rates, t.v lic, my life insurance, telephone,then i\’m suppose to be able to go out shopping, nah i dont think so, when the stuff in my cupboards are gone thats it, as someone says below, how\’s that work, all these no goody\’s driving round in flashy cars, bling hanging off them, where they get the money from, its got to be change, then you wonder why so many people go to dr\’s with depression over aving no job, not been able to support themselves never mind a family,the goverment means to sit up and get it sorted, how would they like to lose their job and live on £60. but then again, why dont they all try it,

  40. Dean says:

    Ive just been made redundant – 30 years old, two kids, a wife, the bills and a Mortgage to suit.Signed on over three weeks ago and received not a penny to date….although to be fair its not even going to pay for the weekly shop and thankfully ive got an overdraft that is looking very dim. Is JSA enough to live on? The whole systems a JOKE and the government couldnt organise a pxxs up in a brewery.Well positively for the time being Im one of the lucky one whos managed to secure his own future with a new job with no thanks to the system that put me here.Best wishes to thoes searching.

  41. suzanne says:

    I am 19 I and I lost my job on the 6th March I went in the Jobcentre last Friday to see if I could claim Job Seekers. They told me that I could be but I would only get like £43.00 something or £47.00 something every two week or however way they work it. I now have to ask my mother and father to help me pay my bills as this amount would only just cover like one of my bills if I am lucky. ( I hate asking Parents!!!) I personally am sick of people telling people there are no Jobs out there because there are a few! If you are qualified in Admin your laughing because you stand a chance at getting a job. I personally agree with what everyone is saying the money you get after all the years of paying tax is crap. I have worked since being 14 and never been out of work and now I can slowly feel my sanity going. Its a hard life at the moment but I dont think the goverment are doing a right lot to do about it. In fact I dont think they care as long as they are still getting there big bonus and leeching from us for their mistakes it doesnt really matter. I think something needs to give or else I suspect anarchy will break out soon enough and I will be one of the many people backing that all the way!!!

  42. brian says:

    if you earnt 40k a year and your wife earns enough to pay the morgage and you have not saved for a rainy day you are an idiot i get by and save a little on 16 k a year.

  43. Nicola says:

    I think it is a joke to live on job seekers, my boyfriend gets £50 a week! you cant buy food, gas and electric with that! assylum seekers and the rest prob get more!!!!!!!

  44. Maurice says:

    Due to redundancy, I\’ve been out of work since November 2008. I recieve Jobseekers allowance of £60.50 per week but that only covers the first 6 months of unemployment. When that payment stops I will recieve nothing at all from the state, except a National Insurance credit. My partner works full-time and she is expected to keep us both on her earnings. Contributory based jobseekers allowance ?? Dont make me laugh. Iv\’e paid my National Insurance Contributions for 47 years and in return my entitlements are ZERO

  45. ashley says:

    I\’m as livid and as educated as the next person (AT LEAST) about this whole issue of how LITTLE people are paid on JSA, the scary reality that a couple making a joint claim; perhaps with children too are getting a similar amount to a single person with none, the crazy process of actually making the claim and the actual stupidity of those working in the Jobcentre helping us to find new employment! However, I\’m sure that if you\’ve taken the time to read my contribution then you\’ll want to come away with something that may actually help you as opposed to an agreement in opinion. Something I have done is visited my local shop/supermarket etc. and done so at the time of day when fresh produce is being discounted by 50%. This means I can still eat the good food I\’m used to without the high prices we all know they are marked up at. It also stands to reason that in a recession more good/expensive food is being overlooked for cheaper items and that more is needing to reduced before it passes its sell by date!

  46. nick says:

    im 33 and live in a small town with no job centre so it costs me £6 to sign (nearest is 10 miles away) ive been unemployed since july last year, living on 60.50 is imposibal where i live as there is only 1 super market and they charge accordingly (same supermarket in northampton hase more veriaty and a lot cheeper and no "value range" products are sold in my local one), gas and electric are stupidly high and rising (even though they made 55 billion profit last year) and food prices are no better but jsa doesnt seam to rise accordingly. dont know what im going to do really im getting more and more in debt every week. im going to be made bankrupt in a few weeks because i cant pay my bills. i have 1 finance debt the rest is mostly utility bills and some money i borrowed when i first lost my job. (only about £600 in all)i hate it how cockup bankers are getting million pound bonuses and mp\’s are getting rises, have a home in every town incase they have to visit and im suffering and going to lose everything ive got over a few hundred pounds. Wish i was polish then i could have a big house car and full bennefit and a translater for when i cant be arsed to talk or when im in the "sorry i didnt understand" mood. any millionairs reading this lend us £600 sort myself out 🙂 thanxsomthing needs to change or very soon

  47. ashley says:

    Message to the last post – If what is happening to you were happening when the world were spinning freely instead of grinding to a halt around us….it would hurt so much more my friend! We\’re all in this shitty sinking boat together, and we all feel like the captain if you follow?!

  48. Unknown says:

    The contributory JSA is only paid for six months at the same rate as the Income Based JSA @ £60.50 per week. What annoys me is that if a couple do not work or one works less than 24 hr per week, then they can qualify for help with mortgage or rent and council tax and also apply for WTC (Working Tax Credit). But if neither are on benefits and one loses their job and the partner works 24 hours or more and earns £16000 per year they would not qualify for WTC or help with morgtage payments etc. How is one person alone able to keep up with mortgage re-payments, buy the food and pay for the rest of the household bills like gas, electric, water, council tax etc? The benefit system also favours people who have children where as they can claim both WTC and CTC and have an income of up to £50,000 per year, not forgetting Child Benefit on top of that. This is a big differance from up to £16000 for a couple with no children. OK they would not qualify for Income Suport/JSA if their Income is £16000 or above, but if their Income was less they would get all the help from the benefit system. Also did you know that WTC is taken into account and classed as income for benefit purposes but Child Tax Credit is not! But what sort of benefit help is there for the couple with no children who fall on hard times? Absolutely nothing. Surely that seems very unfair and totally wrong.

  49. shaun says:

    hi my name is shaun jones i\’m from south wales i was made redundant in november so decided to make a fresh start and move up with my girlfriend in mansfield but before i did i spent most of my redundancy doing my house up so i could sell it i struggled with selling it so i put it up for rent through an estate agents someone moved in on friday anyway i moved up to mansfield in early feb but not before applying for over 300 jobs within a 30 radius anyway it started getting desperate so plucked up the courage to go and beg these jobcentre people for some help well god wish i havn\’t bothered cos i had an interview with this horrible woman who just talked down to me i\’ve worked all my life and worked damn hard i\’ve paid thousands and thousands in tax and insurance and helped pay these peoples wages for the past 25 years and i resent being treated this way way should i be put in the same cattogory as these people who spend a lifetime unemployed.after a few weeks of struggling and getting further behind with my bills i recieved a letter from the jobcentreplus saying-i am pleased to tell you that you quailify for contributions based jobseekers allowance of £60\’50p per week and said i wouldn\’t be getting anymore as i have more than £16000 in savings i wish if i had savings i wouldn\’t have gone to these idiots of course they mean my house but as i said if i could\’ve sold it i wouldn\’t have bothered with dole my girlfriend has 2 dependant children and was getting over £50 before i turned up so effectively after everything i\’ve paid into this country and after all my efforts i get less than £10s a week to live on thank god i had an interview today and it sounds like i might have it\’keep smiling shaun 59 beech tree avenue mansfield woodhouse 07791018194

  50. MATTHEW says:

    Hi, I\’m Matt, been on jobseekers for about 16 months now. I have 10 GCSEs and the equivilent of 5 A level. Educated in English, Mathematics, Psychology, Media and ICT, I still ultimately fail to obtain substantial work. The amount of JSA which I receive is £92 every two weeks which is obviously not an adequate amount of finance. The issue that impedes me is that although equal oppotunities policies or laws are supposedly in effect many employers still disregard them in particular situations. The situation that I myself am unfortunately afflicted with is an acute stammer, I have applied to many positions in Admin and similar roles to fill my inexperience in the work world, but am always informed that due to my stammer I am unsuited to the job because of this flaw. The Jobcentre itself, which shows itself to be unreliable at best shows me very little interest for which I myself am partly to blame, being dismissive of certain jobs. A while ago I did a very brief stint within a central Argos warehouse, unloading trailers and the like, I soon became clinically depressed, always being susceptible this and left at the first oppotunity deciding that I was highly incompatible to this type of employment supposing that I would prefer a Job which I would be more content and better appreciated. The Jobcentre however insists that I consider Warehouse positions despite my frequent protests that I fear that my depression would return in such a mindless role. My hope is to consider writing, which I enjoy, receive speech therapy and continue my education at University in Sepember, this means though that I am forced to receive JSA for another 6 months if I do fail to gain work in an already competitive market. I will have to endure endless demeaning training courses, filled to the brim with imbeciles and look towards a hopeful future horizon from the dreary depths of a condescending and mundane Jobseeker habitat.

  51. sarah says:

    got made redundant end of january by a small company who wanted to keep me on but literally couldnt afford to pay me (no thanks to the sheer idiocy of the banks and useless government who stood by and let it happen). i found a job through an agency who stressed it "wasnt a sales role" and was "more admin based" (if anyone is least likely to be a good salesperson its me). job turned into a salesrole so i left. probably not a good idea in hindsight, but i was really unhappy there and felt like i could have been on the verge of depression. so i went on jsa which was no problem, ive done it before (4 years ago when i left uni for a gap year went to connexions who told me they "couldn\’t do anything" for me as i was planning to go back to uni on a different course the following year, and told me to go on the dole)…i got fast tracked onto new deal 18-25 and sent on loads of different courses, got an ECDL qualification, saw the same advisor every week, had my own mentor etc etc. fast forward to this time round, the forms are even more confusing, ask,ing about what i pay in rent, bills etc which i was later told wasnt relevent as i live at home with my mum. first time i went in, really snotty patronising woman looked over my form, crossing bits off, including the bit which asks if youve recently completed any courses. i graduated last year from uni so i put that on the form and she crossed through it. dismissing it as "not relevant". i coul;dnt beleive i\’d worked my butt of for three years to get a good grade in media, only to be told it wast "relevant". so a week later i go to sign on, have the signing form literally chucked at me by the so-called "advisor" with another pile of papers chucked at me without explanation as to what they were. when i asked he mujmbled it was "some relevant jobs" he\’d printed off…and then told me to sign more forms and take them to another part of the building and that was it. he didnt even bother to ask me what i\’d been doing to find a job (i had an interview later that same day, but it didnt even get the chance to point out i was trying) i read the pile of job printoffs he\’d chucked at me on the train to my interview – 2 were for manager roles which i dont have any experience in and were prerequisites of the role, and another was for seasonal work 13 weeks of the year for the jobcentre call centre, meaning i\’d still probably be claiming the rest of the year. it put me on a right downer for my interview and i didnt get the job. 2 weeks later i go to dsign on again, this time with a different person and they say theyre changing my appointment time because theyve "changed the system" – no letters or advance notice or whatever. he was a bit nicer than the last guy, but didnt bother asking me what i\’d been up to either. just that they were sorting out new appointment times and wouldnt be doing any job stuff that week. that was last monday. ive applied for over 300 jobs with 3 interviews out the lot and about 25 rejections…the rest didnt even bother to respond. i\’m degree-educated with three years experience in retail, service and marketing but from what i gather, i dont have the right experience for the graduate TRAINEE jobs (i thought the whole point of trainee was to learn something, not come in a readymade employee) ive applied for, and for the other jobs i\’m "overqualified" and they think i think i\’m above it due to my solid education (10 GCSEs A-C, 3 Alevels grade C and a 2.2 bachelors degree in media). essentially all i am supposedly good for is comission only sales roles and call centre jobs (i didnt work hard for three years to end up in a sales job i didnt even need a degree to get in the first place). i\’ve since found a new job through an agency and start tomorrow. but the experience ive had with the jobcentre this time round has been so appalling, i never want to have to be in this position again. something really needs to be done. being 22 i was only eligible for the £47 odd a week (why the governemnt thinks we under-25s can live on any less than older people is beyond me). living at home, i wasnt in as bad a position as some people, but i still had bills to pay – phone internet car fees etc. ive always bought my own food because my mum has her own money worries, but by the time ive paid bills and other expenses, i could barely afford to even shop in aldi for a couple of days worth of food. i also really rely on my car for the sort of jobs i\’ve applied for – in admin on industrial estates where theres no public transport at all – but i was really aware that if i didnt find something in a couple of months, it would be even harder for me to find work as i\’d have to give up my car. whatever your circumstances though £47 or £60 odd is just not enough to cover it all. but can we really see the government doing anything about it? they probably only bailed the banks out with OUR money to protect their own interests anyway. they go on about creating jobs in the future, but they dont seem to grasp the fact that people need jobs NOW, not when theyve run out of money and lost their homes and everything else.

  52. Christine says:


  53. Funky says:

    I stupidly went to university to train to be a teacher (£21,000 worth of student debt woop!). As my parents earn over the threshold I wasn\’t eligible for any bursaries to help me out like my friends had. My family then went through a financially difficult time due to a booked holiday and the airline then going bust, my sister going to a college far away and then starting university and numerous appliances like washing machines and ovens breaking literally days after the warranty ran out on them. Then my university cocked it all up on the last thing I had to do at university. Luckily I got to graduate but I had to do a retake in September this year, meaning I wouldn\’t be able to get/start a teaching job til next January. In the massive gap between the time I graduated in July and the current day I started looking for a part time job to tie me over until I started my new teaching post on January 4th. However every place I applied to (and I wasn\’t picky about the type of job as I needed money to pay for food) said I was over-qualified due to my degree. I then was getting so desperate for money despite the fact I haven\’t gone out for the last 2 years even to celebrate my graduation or 21st birthday and was living off canned food that had been in my kitchen cupboard from the day I had moved into my student digs. So I thought I would start claiming Job Seeker\’s Allowance as I was actively seeking work and was a short way off running out of food. As I\’m 21 I can only recieve £50.32 per week (apparently the Government claim I can live off of that …). I didn\’t want to claim for ages as I apparently have too much pride and I\’m aware that the staff seem to talk to you like you\’re stupid. I am now still waiting after 2 weeks for the first payment to go through even though I have recieved a letter and attended an interview saying I am eligible and will be recieving payments. I\’m very aware that Christmas is coming so any money I do recieve (when it finally arrives) will go on christmas presents (however if it doesn\’t turn up within the next 2 weeks my family will only be getting hugs off of me at this rate!). I have had to scrounge unwanted tinned goods/left over pasta/frozen food from friends and family to live off of over the last few months.So even though I have this degree and a job lined up for January I\’m still treated like scum by the people at the Job Seeker\’s office (and I could probably do their jobs quite well) and am referred to as a stastistic by the government as one of the many unemployed. The system doesn\’t provide nearly enough for people to get by (thank christ I don\’t have a mortgage or rent to pay cos I would well and truly be screwed over) and any money I will recieve will have to support me until my first pay packet arrives at the end of January.2009 has been shit.

  54. Lee says:

    It is impossible, it is middle of winter I can’t afford to have the gas on or electric or to cook food. I can’t apply for jobs because I can’t afford the internet or have a phone to call jobs. Traveling to job interviews is a decision between going for interview or going without food that day. I have found myself eating dandelions leaves and wild berries for food in the summer. I feel myself getting ill.

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