More than Money: The Value of Work
The ‘benefits trap’ is real and many claimants who can only find, or who are only ready for, a few hours a week’s paid work will find they are not much better off money-wise to start with. If you’re on Jobseekers Allowance, for example, the first five pounds you earn is disregarded but then for every pound you earn, a pound is deducted from your benefits. So, if your first step on the jobs ladder is a small one, think about how to make the most of the other reasons to start working.
In 2012, Clean Slate surveyed every jobseeker who signed up to find work with us and although most were interested in making more money, they had other reasons for wanting employment.
- Two thirds of jobseekers wanted to get active again and to feel more independent
- Just over half said they wanted to feel useful
- Half knew that work would increase their confidence
- 54 per cent told us a lack of experience or training was holding them back and finding work would help them overcome this
We understand that going out to work only to be no better off feels like waste of time but we really don’t believe it is. By taking control of your life, you are starting to get independent of hand outs. Our workers repeatedly tell us how their sense of pride and self-esteem has grown. Once you feel better about yourself, you’ll find you are more able to sell yourself to employers with more hours and better pay, working your way up until you’re better off than you are on benefits.
We don’t believe claimants should be forced to work for private companies or face sanctions. For Clean Slate, it is really important that employers pay workers for the work they do – and pay us for finding them good workers in the first place. Even if you’re not better off, you’ll feel valued and you’ll grow your skills and experience, boosting your confidence as well as your CV.
To be fair, the Government recognises the problems with the way benefits currently keep people trapped in unemployment. Universal Credit, when it finally comes on-stream, is promised to mean that you won’t lose pound for pound from your benefits as you start to find work. Everyone, they say, will be better off in work.