Joe Thorne introduces an anonymous testimony by a young unemployed person, in the context of the government’s plans for further ‘welfare reform’.
This is an account by a ‘customer’ of the Department for Work and Pensions – that is, an unemployed person seeking work. In particular, the account describes their experiences at the hands of DWP subcontractor Action4Employment, or A4E as they are better known. A4E administer elements of the New Deal Program; their treatment of working class people is something we can expect more of if the Welfare Abolition Bill goes through. They also treat their staff appallingly.
The account is also valuable because it shows how different aspects of the ‘welfare state’ can intersect to create a labyrinth of abuse for disadvantaged working class people. One example of this, rarely mentioned, is the poverty trap of temporary accommodation, in which parents of families who are housed by local authorities are penalised for working to the tune of hundreds of pounds a week. For the testimony of some Hackney temporary accommodation residents, see here.
I have been a client of A4e and was appalled by how I was treated. I will start by telling you a little of my background. I had hit rock bottom in my life, lost my job and was living in a hostel with a lot of debt and was trying to rebuild everything I’d lost. I was waiting to start university and had already been accepted. Because of the situation I was in at the time I could not afford to take a minimum wage job and was waiting for council housing to become available. I was in a supported hostel for young girls and if you start work while living there the weekly rent is extortionate.
Regardless of my personal circumstances I was forced to go to A4e and told I would lose my benefits if I didn’t attend. I already had low self esteem because I hadn’t been working for the previous 6 months and had tried to get a job that would cover all of my bills. I had even voluntarily taken up typing courses and had got my level 3 qualifications in the hope that I could get a job that paid enough. I was also waiting to start voluntary work at citizen advice but I couldn’t start there because of attending A4e. Continue reading “‘giving jobseekers the support they need’”