Tag Archives: Jobseekers Allowance

“If they give me a chance, I can prove what I can do.” – #100days100stories

Georgina, who has learning difficulties and two children, spent 15 years out of work. Support from Scope gave her the confidence to start volunteering, update her CV and prepare for interviews. Georgina shares her story as part of Scope’s 100 days, 100 stories campaign.

Georgina holding her CV
Georgina spent 15 years out of work

Last May I started working in a factory. Before that, I hadn’t worked since 1997, when I had my daughter.

I planned to go back to work when my daughter started school, but by then I was pregnant with my son, so I stayed at home with him. He has learning and behavioural problems, and it has been very difficult. It wasn’t until 2011 that I could start to look for work.

Looking for work

I have a slight learning disability, so my brain doesn’t process things as quickly as someone else’s might in certain areas. In my new job I haven’t struggled, but some things are difficult.

Since 2011 I’ve been on Jobseeker’s Allowance. I got put in touch with Scope through the disability officer at the Jobcentre in 2012. I worked with Jan, an employment advisor.

I had no references, and there was no way I was getting a job without one. Jan and I decided that we’d write me a CV and drop them in at charity shops – do some volunteer work to get a reference.

One of them, a Red Cross shop, got back to me, so I started volunteering there. It was meant to be just for a reference, but two years later I was still there! I learnt a lot, and I still go back to help out sometimes.

Georgina and Jan, Scope employment advisor, working at a laptop computer
Scope employment advisor Jan supported Georgina to update her CV and prepare for interviews

Gaining confidence

Jan would either make appointments to come into the shop to see me, or I would come to Scope’s office in Eastbourne. We would meet once a week. We did work schedules, talking about what I’d done in that week, and I did my job search.

My confidence and self-esteem weren’t that great for a long time, but it’s better now.

At the charity shop I learnt to do basically everything. The manager, Michaela, said I should apply for Assistant Manager jobs in charity shops – I have all the skills. I’m pretty good at saying, ‘Oh, I can’t do this, I can’t do that’, and then finding that I can do it after all.

Getting the job

Someone at Scope saw this job opening and said I should go for it, and Jan went with me to the interview.

I am a good hard worker, if given the chance, but if I hadn’t have been with Scope when I’d gone for that interview, I know that the shop wouldn’t have offered me the job.

Not everywhere will give me a chance. If they give me a chance, then I can prove what I can do.

If you would like to talk about employment support for disabled people, we have a recruitment advisor from the Business Disability Forum on Scope’s online community now.

Read more of our 100 stories, and find out how you can get involved in the campaign.

Behind the figures: what do today’s sanctions figures mean for disabled people?

New figures out today show the scale of the Government’s new sanctions regime. In total, over 90,000 disabled people have had their benefits suspended for anywhere between 3 weeks and 3 years. Here’s four things you need to know:

How many disabled people do sanctions affect?

Since November 2012, when sanctions were tightened, 90,004 disabled people have had their benefits suspended.

This breaks down as 82,860 disabled people on Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) – the out-of-work benefit available to everyone – and 7,180 disabled people on Employment Support Allowance (ESA), which is meant to be for those who face the biggest barriers to work.

This means that 1 in 7 of the total number of JSA claimants who’ve been sanctioned are disabled people, and 4 in 5 of the total number of ESA.

How does this compare to previous years?

It’s hard to say exactly, because DWP haven’t published figures specifically for disabled people before last year.

But looking at the figures for those on ESA – the majority of whom are disabled people – we can get a sense of how many more people are being sanctioned under the new regime. The increase is pretty shocking.

Since December 2012 the number of ESA sanctions was 11,400. For the same period in 2011/12, the number of people sanctioned was 5,750. This is an increase of 50%.

Compare this with an 11% increase for JSA sanctions year on year, and it’s clear that the regime change has had an even more dramatic effect for those who face the most barriers to work.

Why are people being sanctioned?

What the stats show is people being sanctioned for things like missing interviews with advisers, or not engaging with the Work Programme, or sending enough job applications.

What they don’t show is the reality for disabled people: interviews with advisers clashing with medical appointments; inaccessible transport; advisers without specialist understanding of conditions and impairments; a lack of jobs with the flexibility disabled people often need.

Do sanctions work?

No. Disabled people face a wide-range of barriers to work. Lack of available jobs, fewer qualifications and even negative attitudes from some employers can make the workplace daunting.

So simply taking away benefits from a disabled person really doesn’t help – as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation have repeatedly pointed out. In fact, suspending benefits can make things worse: stats from the Trussell Trust show that increasing use of food banks is linked to the tightening of sanctions.

Instead of simply suspending benefits for no reason, we need a system that actually works for disabled people, that supports them to find a job they want, and that takes seriously the barriers they face.