How would you feel about 117 unemployed people being told not to work as it will jeopardise their placement in a homeless hostel?
I am currently claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance and trying to get on my feet. You make a declaration to look for work and sign a legal contract between yourself and the government. Once a fortnight you attend a meeting and show what you have done to actively seek employment.
My Jobseeker’s Allowance agreement says I must look for full-time work, else I may be sanctioned and lose my entitlement. So when I sit in a meeting with a support worker at the hostel, the last thing I expect to hear is: “Don’t, whatever you do, get a job – get housed and then look for work.” You must claim Jobseeker’s Allowance to enable your claim for Housing Benefit. The maximum stay here is two years. So for two years the homeless hostel is tacitly, indirectly asking us to commit fraud against the government.
If you are found to be not actively seeking work, your benefit is sanctioned. Your suspension period is determined by how many times you have been sanctioned previously and your overall ability to abide by the rules of your job-seeking agreement. Let’s say it’s two weeks. So for two weeks you lose your Housing Benefit, which means for two weeks there is no rent paid by the council for you staying in the hostel. The hostel looks at the fact you can’t pay and they will have someone behind you that can get straight on benefits. So more than likely you will be facing your 14-day notice period.
For two years the homeless hostel is tacitly, indirectly asking us to commit fraud against the government
I have to look for work and to be honest, I want to work. Sat in here looking at four walls all day is soul-destroying. I may be old-fashioned but if you go out to work, does it not give you confidence? Does it not help you to have self-esteem, make you feel good when you treat yourself because you are working hard and earning money? To me, working creates a sense of positivity. Cleaning toilets, factory work, vegetable picking or any other work may not be your dream job but it makes you feel valued as a human being. You gain new and wonderful friends, rather than the fortnightly meeting at the job centre.