So, Markies have joined the list of companies expecting people to work for free in order to win the privilege of a job interview: four weeks’ work receiving only unemployment benefit (paid out of the public purse), and just the promise of an interview at the end. And, of course, with lots of people working for free, they should actually need to employ fewer paid workers. The young graduate who told us of this offer from the jobcentre was far from impressed, but others will no doubt be persuaded that they have little choice, either through fear of saying no to the jobcentre – although this scheme is not actually mandatory – or through lack of other opportunities.
And last week we also talked with Paul, an angry and frustrated man with serious health problems, who had been on ESA and PIP but had had his ESA claim stopped when he went into hospital for six days. He had been made to reapply through the Universal Credit system, and had thereby lost hundreds of pounds in disability premiums. The ending of these premiums in Universal Credit is a major cut for disabled people that is rarely talked about. In Paul’s case this should also never have happened, because the original ESA claim should not have been closed. Paul was already getting help to appeal, but we also came across a couple of people with complicated problems who weren’t getting help, who we sent to the Shelter drop-in.
And talking of limited job opportunities – the army was in the jobcentre again, carrying out their economic conscription.