Applying for jobs is my full time job. It has been almost a year since I last had a paid job and in my darkest days, it sometimes feels like I am never going to get out of that cycle. I recently took part in a project called BBC Generation 2015 and talked about how it felt like I didn't have a future. A lot of what you take for granted is dependent on having a sustainable income and career path. In the hope that you never end up in my shoes, I still want to tackle some of the misconceptions that I frequently hear about the unemployed.
1. The unemployed sit around all day and earn more than I do!
Jobseekers Allowance is roughly £57 a week. I am 23 and it would take me only 9 hours on minimum wage (£6.50) to earn more than what I do now. It is true there are other benefits out there that would increase that amount but that is dependent on individual circumstances. If I had children to look after or living in a flat, I would need more to cover rent or expenses but it still wouldn't be enough to live comfortably. Budgeting is a necessity if you're living on benefits.
2. You're only young and living at home with no responsibilities. Why do you even need that money?
It's true, I can manage just fine on £57 a week as I do not have children to look after or lots of bills to pay. I certainly would not ask for any more. I would very much like to be able to stay at home and apply for jobs in my own time without claiming. It is not like I would apply for any less but the recession hit our family hard. My dad is a self-employed decorator and the breadwinner in the family. The work dried up and things were tough. At the time, I was at college claiming Educational Maintenance Allowance (£30 a week) and I never saw a penny of it because it was money that needed to pay the bills. While things are slightly better now, my parents still require £20 a week rent from me to go towards the bills. Not claiming is not really an option and it also has the added benefit of being able to claim travel expenses for interviews I would never have been able to afford to go to were that safety net not in place.
3. There are lots of jobs out there.
Unfortunately, there are also lots of unemployed (and employed) people applying for them.
4. They just waste their money on drink and drugs. They should be paid in vouchers instead.
Personally, I'm teetotal and would never touch drugs. That's not to say that there aren't people who do have these problems but creating a system that punishes the majority for a minority makes little sense. I am poor and need financial assistance but I am perfectly capable of spending money sensibly. The vast majority of unemployed people do not want to be unemployed. It is boring to not have somewhere to banter with colleagues, meet new people and the sense of accomplishment when you've completed a particularly difficult task. I wouldn't wish it on anyone.
5. They just watch Jeremy Kyle.
Being unemployed is bad enough without having to watch that crap.
This blog was written Michael Abbinnett, who's a BBC Generation 2015 contributor. His views are entirely his own.