The reality of life on the dole

At a time when politicians talk about ‘strivers and skivers’ or ‘workers and shirkers’, a north Northumberland man wants people to be aware that life on the dole isn’t easy.

Jeff Wake, of Amble, has had his benefits – Jobseekers’ Allowance (JSA) – put on hold as a sanction and now faces several weeks without any money.

He was told that it was because he hadn’t searched online for work for several weeks, but he claims that he had looked, although he didn’t fill in the required notes as to why the vacancies were unsuitable.

The 46-year-old cannot borrow any cash from his family, as they can’t afford it, and his girlfriend only has part-time work.

If they get into arrears, they could end up losing their home.

Jeff has been without work since the demise of Cheviot Foods in Amble in 2010, a major blow which saw the loss of 250 jobs in town.

And he wants people to know that receiving benefits is not the easy way out, as some in the media make out, and what’s even tougher is the hunt for jobs in the current economic climate.

“I have done everything in my power to find work, but there’s nothing out there,” he said. “There’s about 10 people to every one job.

“Who are they going to take? They are going to take the people with A-Levels and GCSEs and I haven’t got them.

“It seems ridiculous, getting your money stopped for this, that and the other.

“They said I haven’t done enough to find work, but I’m just gutted that they’ve done it to me, I have got nothing to live on now.

“I’m not the kind of person who likes living off the taxman. It’s not for lack of looking for jobs, it’s because there’s no work.

“I’m trying everything in my power to find work. I will do any kind of work. I will do anything to get off the dole.”

The Department for Work and Pensions website explains that JSA can be stopped as a penalty (known as a sanction), for example, if you: don’t go to a Jobcentre Plus when asked; turn down a job or training; don’t apply for any jobs; don’t go to any training booked for you; leave your job or training without a good reason or because of your behaviour.

Claimants may also have to sign a commitment and benefits can be stopped if they don’t do what has been agreed.