You may remember that back in March, I underwent a challenge to live on the equivalent of the Jobseeker’s Allowance – or £60 a week (now £64.30 for the over 25s). It was, it has to be said, only for a fortnight and of course, unlike a real jobseeker I wasn’t spending time and money on travelling to job interviews and printing out CVs, but it was shock enough.
I knew things were tough out there, but I learned from all the comments and messages from many of you who have lost your jobs just how little people have to live on, how difficult it is to get what you should be entitled to under the National Insurance system, plus your struggles with the Jobcentre Plus system.
Anyway, at the time I was struck by a comment on the guest book saying we should do something about it instead of just complaining about it on the blog, so I asked what you thought about launching a petition to raise the Jobseeker’s Allowance and demand that the Jobcentre Plus system is overhauled. While some of you were against increasing the allowance, many of you said you would be happy to sign a petition to raise it.
I thought I’d wait to see what the government would come up with in this year’s Budget first before acting. But as – predictably – there was little to get excited about last week, especially for older workers, I have decided to go ahead with a petition.
Here’s what it says and here’s a link to the petition if you’d like to sign it:
UK taxpayers have seen billions of pounds of their hard-earned cash poured into the banking system and watched as government ministers claim thousands more for second homes and other questionable ‘expenses’. Now we call on the government to return the favour and assist taxpayers, workers and families who have fallen on hard times due to no fault of their own.
Unemployment is 2 million and rising. As the economic crisis deepens, many unemployed workers face the loss of their savings and homes as they struggle to survive on the £64.30 a week Jobseeker’s Allowance for the over 25s. Despite paying into the National Insurance system – often for decades – many have been shocked to find they aren’t eligible to receive the full £64.30 a week or additional payments, such as housing benefit, because their partners are in work. Others are forced to commute many miles to ‘sign on’ to receive payments which barely cover their travel costs. The Jobseekers’ Allowance makes no allowances either for the cost of travel to job interviews or other expenses incurred in the job seeking process. In addition, Jobseekers complain that Jobcentre Plus staff are often poorly trained and unsympathetic and that the system is currently incapable of helping white collar workers find skilled positions or providing relevant training schemes.
The system has to change. We, the undersigned, call on the government to increase the Jobseeker’s Allowance to £120 a week and provide more help for those struggling to keep up with rent and mortgage payments. We demand that Jobseekers’ financial circumstances are assessed on an individual basis, regardless of their partner’s circumstances, and that the Jobcentre Plus system is given a serious overhaul.
We need a 21st Century Jobcentre Plus system in which genuine jobseekers are treated with respect and which provides useful job search advice for all, targeted training courses and apprenticeships.
Hope you’ll sign it! Feel free to forward it to your friends and colleagues/facebook/twitter it etc. to get other people to sign it too, if you can. It’s easy to be cynical and think it won’t make a difference, but it’s worth a try. Here is the link again and let me know what you think. Cheers, Piper
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