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Housing, Benefits & Jobs

Comment 3rd July 2010

Having had the misfortune of being made redundant through ill health last November and also being made homeless for part of this year, I have had to hunt high and low for somewhere to live and it has been far from being easy!

The biggest problem with being unemployed, is the simple fact that a great many landlords do not accept DSS tenants. Look at most adverts for property that is available to rent and you will see the words NO DSS attached to the end of the advert. 

Having researched the problem myself, I have discovered that there is a serious level of discrimination towards those who are unfortunate enough to have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. A good place to view what I mean would be to visit this website and view some of the opinions of landlords regarding their views on DSS tenants and also their opinion of legislation surrounding the way councils continue to play around with paying housing benefits. 

Your government may be looking to cut benefits in order to reduce the national debt, but for someone like myself who is desperate to get back in to work and also done their damned hardest to get off the street, benefits are vital until new employment can be found. By councils delaying benefits or constantly messing people around, they are adding even more stress to what is already a difficult time.

Yes, the benefits system needs a re-think and yes, there are people who abuse it, but there are a hell of a lot of people who need it, that are struggling to survive! 

I am on Job Seekers Allowance of £65 per week. £7.65 per week  is deducted from that because I had no choice except to apply for a Social Fund Loan in order to be able to get the house I am now living in. This leaves me with just over £57 a week to survive on. Once I pay for electric, gas and food, I am left with virtually nothing. I do not own a television and even if I did, I would not be able to afford a licence! I have no car, and yet again if I did, I could not afford to run it! 

What I am asking is that the government start to look at the reasons why the people on DSS are struggling to find employment…. is it because of a lack of jobs? A lack of skills? There could be any number of reasons. 

In my particular case, I was made redundant through ill health last year, since making a recovery, I have applied for over 180 jobs since March this year. Out of the 180 jobs I have applied for, I have had exactly 8 letters telling me I was not suitable for the position or was not qualified enough and I have been asked to one (1) interview! The rest I have not heard anything from! So as a part of looking at the reasons why people are struggling to find employment, look at the jobs which are being advertised! 

I have been registered with Jobs Today, Monster and several other websites. Since registering, I have checked them daily and all I see is a repeat of the same adverts by the same companies with very little difference elsewhere. Many of these companies when you read their adverts often talk about career prospects within the company and how you can advance through the ranks. If this is the case, how come so many of the companies advertising these claims of fabulous career prospects are advertising elsewhere…why are they not promoting their current staff to the managerial jobs which dominate the Jobs website pages and replacing the staff who are promoted?

Why does this matter?

The reason this is so important is simple! 

Until something is done to address the situation unemployed people are facing, then the problem is never going to go away! 

There is an old saying of you have to spend money to make money, which I am sure many politicians are aware of 🙂 This being the case and taking my personal example of the current financial situation I am in, then explain to me how on £57 a week, I am supposed to buy food, pay gas and electric, pay bus fares into town and back at £3.80 a time, pay to do my laundry and pay for excess travel should I ever be offered another interview? 

There are a lot of conditions surrounding jobs which are available and one of the biggest problems is travel. Without a car, I have found that the work I originally wished to apply for as a care worker was out of the question as a car is needed for the job…. so how about a scheme where if a job is secured, that an interest free loan to purchase a cheap second hand car is made available (regardless of status considering many people who have to live on benefits are probably struggling with debt!) and is made available immediately without red tape delays!

To sum everything up…

1, End the difficulties facing finding suitable accommodation for DSS tenants by introducing a ruling that ends the NO DSS adverts… address this by looking at the reasons why so many landlords are against DSS tenants… its not hard to do if you just take the time to look! The problem in my opinion is not too difficult to fix and not too hard to discover should you type DSS Tenants into Google!

2, End pointless advertising of jobs which do not exist. Ensure that the companies who are advertising genuinely have a job available and insist on the fact that in order to advertise a job and waste peoples time and effort with pointless job applications, that a response is returned to the applicant for their records and also to be able to prove they are applying for work! A simple mail shot to all the applicants through Royal Mail would not cost a fortune! I know… I worked there long enough!!!

3, Take a serious long hard look at the benefits available to those who are seeking employment. I know that I myself may not be flushed with offers of interviews, but someone in a similar situation to me, may get a lot more offers and the cost of travel mounts up. Having to pay out for this before being able to claim travelling expenses back through the Job Centre may force some people to miss out on interviews through not having the money for travel…..especially if they are only surviving on the £65 per week J.S.A. 

4. Ensure jobs which a advertised are available to everyone and not just to those with "a minimum amount of experience". Many people who are redundant have spent many years working in the same industries and now they are unemployed, their skills are going to waste, as employers are so precise with their choice of future employee's past work history and experience! Provide incentives to businesses to provide training for potential employees who have worked in other industries who have relevant skills, but have not necessarily worked in the industries which are advertising the jobs. 

5. Re-think the way unemployed people are dealt with. On a recent Return to Work session with the Job Centre, it was claimed that a large percentage of those made redundant were back in work within 3 months! If this is the case, then why are so many people unemployed? Target the newly unemployed to discover why they have been made redundant and get the job centres to actually work with them to find a new job…. this can be through creation of a data base to match relevant claimants to certain types of work or alternatively contact employers on the persons behalf like it used to be done. An introduction by a third party is one of the best ways to meet someone and the same applies with jobs….. not everyone has the ability to make a good first impression through a written, faceless job application! 

For the more long term unemployed, work with them to find out what problems they have faced when searching for work. Do not just rely on the piece of paper with "3 different ways you have searched for work!" This is pointless and achieves nothing other than justify paying someone to authorise a J.S.A payment once every two weeks! 

If someone has been unemployed for such a long time, there MUST be reason! 

This also refers back to my suggestion regarding employers responding to all job applications! If someone spends several years unemployed and has a complete history of rejection letters, it goes a long way to prove that the individual is seeking employment and questions can then be asked about how it should be tackled…although it should not take several years to get to this point! 

This will also be a good indication of which employers are genuinely offering employment and how many people are applying for the vacancies. The success rates of the company finding an employee and the job seekers patterns of work applied for would be available for review and help provide a more detailed and simple way of monitoring employment statistics around the country.

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