Sunday, May 02, 2010

Lets cut benefits for those who refuse work

Oh look it's another bullshit Tory poster:

You know what?  We already do!  *prepares to use previous experiences as an example*

Having been recently made unemployed I have now had 1st hand experience of our nation's delightful JobCentres.  Some advisers were helpful, some weren't. When I rang up to register so that I could sign on and claim my benefits I was told I could claim contribution based Job Seekers Allowance (JSA).  This means that because I have been working for the past two years and have been paying National Insurance (NI) I have been contributing to the system so am entitled to claim JSA.

I got approx £64 a week.
I am not entitled to Housing or Council Tax benefit because the boyfriend (who I live with and own a hosue with) works more than 24 hours a week - what he earnt was, I believe, irrelevant.  They also aksed about our savings, and again, we had too much.  But I'm not sure what benefits this 'too much' related to.

£64 a week will not pay the mortgage or the bills (and remember that I didn't get any redundancy money).
I was given 13 weeks to look for a job on the same salary and of the same type as I was earning when employed.  After that period I would have to broaden my search.
If I didn't carry out 3 job search activites a week, my JSA would be stopped or reduced.
If I didn't approach at least one company a week to ask for a job (by application form or CV) my JSA would be affected.
If I refused any job I was offered my JSA would be stopped.
After 6 months my JSA woudl be stopped outright and I would only be able to get my NI paid.

You can also claim income based JSA - for those who haven't paid enough in NI and are on a low income.  The same rules for job searching apply to incoem based and contribution based JSA.

So you see, when you claim JSA, if you refuse to work you get your benefits stopped.

Maybe he's talking about other benefits?
Incapacity Benefit is for those who are too ill or disabled to work.  This began to be phased out a few years ago - new claimants can now only get Employment Support Allowance (ESA).  To get this you must go through a health assessment, which is pretty difficult and is not done by your doctor.  Then you get 6 months of support to find a job, if you don't attend the required job search meetings/activities your benefits get stopped.   After these 6 months you then don't have to attend any more meetings and your benefit continues for life - but remember these are people too sick or disabled to work.

Maybe he means Disability Living Allowance (DLA)?  This ranges from about £18.95 to £71.40 a week and has two components - care and mobility.  It's designed to help with the expense of adjustments you may need to make for your disability, e.g. a carer, or a flashing smoke alarm.  You can still receive this even when you work, so I don't think Cameron means DLA.

Maybe he means Income Support?  This is designed for those on a low income, with less than £16,000 in savings, working less than 16 hours a week, are lone parents, refugees, carers or on maternity/paternity leave.  So it's not really linked to job seekers.

So, I believe that Tory poster is spreading disinformation and playing on people's fears.  If you are able to work it is actually really difficult to get money for doing nothing and that which you do get is pretty much fuck all.

Incidentally, when I went to register in person for the first time I asked for confirmation of what I would be paid.  The adviser I saw couldn't tell me and said I'd have to ask the benefits department about that.  I was under the impression the Job Centre was the benefits department.
I have also heard of terminally ill people being forced to attend job search appointments.

Our welfare system is not as generous or easy to play as people would have you think.  Don't be fooled by Tory propaganda and bullshit.  Vote Labour, Liberal, Green, SNP or Plaid Cymru on Thursday.  Please.

Currently listening to: Manic Street Preachers - Lipstick Traces

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