Bleak Times

Hey! I’m back! Did you miss me?


Sod you then…

As many of you will know, Nevermore died (well, fell into a brief coma) because my job hunt became too much for me and I felt I had to put as much of my time and energy as humanly possible into getting myself back off the dole. It’s not easy right now and things are only going to get worse. For all of us.

I’m being such a prophet of doom because I and everyone else on benefits have been hit hard by the recent economic downturn. I’m not sure how often the sum of benefit payments are reviewed but it’s annually at best, so far as I can gather. The amount one is given while claiming Jobseeker’s allowance is based on what the government believes you need to live on plus a little extra based on National Insurance contributions. To put that in perspective: I have worked and paid National Insurance for four years and paid income tax on about a year’s worth of those earnings and I am still only getting the basic rate of Jobseeker’s. Yup. Not a penny extra. Furthermore, of the £47.95 each week the DWP gives you to live off, a portion of that may well go towards paying your rent. I pay fifteen pounds of my £47.95 towards my rent each week. And I don’t have a large rent – the council like to pay as little as possible in housing benefit, it seems. So here I am with £32.95 each week with which to buy food and pay my bills. T.V. License, gas, electricity, telephone line rental… it all adds up. So I eat as cheaply as possible. I buy in bulk where I can and buy the special cheap supermarket ranges (Tesco Value, Sainsbury’s Basic – you know the ones) that taste like shit and make no concessions to health. This is a thorn in the side of a guy who is trying to do the “eating properly and getting more exercise” bit. And heaven help me if my shoes wear out.

Okay, maybe the idea is that you’re supposed to be on Jobseeker’s for as little time as possible. Maybe it’s meant to just tide you over while you get yourself back to work. It’s taken me six months to get a fortnight’s stint from a temping agency. And as the economy slows down, jobs are being shed, leading to more people on Jobseeker’s and fewer available vacancies. Meanwhile, the cost of food and fuel is spiralling so that that £32.95 buys less and less as the year rolls on. Bleak, isn’t it?

Do I have a point to this maths lesson? We’ve all got to tighten our belts right now, I suppose. But for those of us on benefits and low incomes, the bare minimum the government thinks we can live on is becoming unrealistic in the face of spiralling prices. Would a quarterly benefits review hurt?


~ by Scary Rob on 1 September, 2008.

3 Responses to “Bleak Times”

  1. Yes i remember being on benefits about 2 years back (only for 3 months admiteddly but its not good. BTW get a CRB and look at educational supply work or TAing, cud be a plan?

  2. Actually, there is light at the end of the tunnel for me, but I’m not willing to shout about my real work situation in a public forum as it’s too personal. The only reason there are actual numbers on this post is that it’s the money everyone gets from the DWP. I wouldn’t even consider putting my earnings up here under other circumstances.

  3. Yeah having the fun of lookig for a job as well.

    though i have the added advantage of working 16 hours in a supermarket at weekends to help me get by.

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