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Job seekers benefits, with a bit of financial venting

I had a bit of a financial saga this morning. This post briefly chats about what has happened, and goes on to propose a replacement to job seekers benefits. Feel free to skip the first section, its just a bit of a vent

My Saga

I am right in the financial shit. I last got a student loan payment in April and have managed to stretch that meagre sum over 6 months. However no amount of budgeting and careful spending can protect me from the dreaded unauthorised overdraft. I rang Nationwide to beg for an overdraft extension, and was told that overdrafts are managed automatically and there was no way i could get it extended. There is nothing that angers me more than having elements of my life ruled by a machine.

Actually, i can appreciate why they manage their overdrafts like this. Everyone would like a bigger overdraft, but the banks have to protect themselves. The front line staff just read the data from their automated systems and have no discretion, regardless of the circumstances. Its unfair to blame decisions like this on the individuals, but the consistent dehumanising of large institutions leaves no room for compassion and its something that we need to challenge.

Anyway, when the shit really hits the fan i know i can always rely on my dad. Despite us all being in a desperate financial position he has been able to lend me some food money...thank god i'm getting a bit of student loan on the 3rd, i can pay him back within 7 days.


I have been faced with this dehumanised and discretionless approach when dealing with the Department of Work and Pensions, and Student Loan Company. At every stage i have been dealing with teams of people who have had their most human attributes smothered by technology and rigid policy. The very institutions that we rely on for support when we are at our most vulnerable choose to treat us like serial numbers and not human brings. In my circumstances i am left with literally no money with which to buy food. It reminds me, once again, of the weaknesses of our welfare state...something needs to change.

What should change?

There are two groups of people that need to be supported in some manner by the welfare state; those who cannot work, and those who do not work.

Those who cannot work should be supported, i don't think anyone would disagree with that. The controversial and most complicated group is those who do not work. I feel let down by the benefits system because i know that there are a lot of people who can work, but choose not to because they can rely on benefits to support them. This is unacceptable.

I want to see the 'job seekers' benefit system totally reformed. It must no longer be a benefit, but state sponsored temporary employment. Example; say i lose my job due to redundancy. If i cannot find a new job, i take myself down to the job centre and apply for 'state employment'. By the next day i am back to work as a council employed street cleaner, earning the same amount of money as Job Seekers Allowance. I am required to work 3 days a week in 'state employment'. Two days are reserved for 'employability' courses. Example; say my biggest weaknesses are time management and communication. Every week i will attend these classes in order to make myself more attractive to employers. The remaining two days are my own, its important that job seekers still maintain a social life and do the things they want to do.

So, i'm working as a street cleaner. I really want to find a new job, the state employment doesn't pay well, and the job isn't really to my liking. While in 'state employment' i will still receive council tax benefit and housing benefit, but only for a limited period of time.

Benefits of 'State Employment'

The benefits of this system are wide reaching. Firstly, we no longer pay people to sit in front of the TV all day, we expect them to be giving something in return. The 'state employment' jobs will all be jobs that improve our communities, for example; street cleaners, maintenance workers, community centre staff etc. The system is designed to encourage people to seek their own jobs that pay better, and may be more to their liking. It gives structure to the lives of those who are out of work, and maintains the work ethic. The training provided equip our job seekers with skills and knowledge that will keep them employed and off 'benefits'.

Over to you

So, have i solved all the worlds problems with this article? You tell me...did i get it right? did i get it wrong? did i miss something? Over to you...

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