Job seekers must find work faster or face a universal credit cutoff: We asked some jobseekers what it could mean

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Job seekers who apply for Universal Credit will have to look for work outside their desired area after a month or may face penalties under the new government plans.

Starting Thursday, people will have to search outside their chosen fields after just four weeks, instead of the current three months.

If they turn down the job, or don’t seem to be making the effort to find work, their benefit payments may be reduced.

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The proposal called “Way to Work” implies that those interested will have to broaden their job search outside their previous occupation or sector.

The measure is intended for those who can work but are unemployed or use the universal credit to supplement a low income.

As job openings hit a record 1.22 million between September and November, reporter Louisa Gregson asked job seekers how they feel about the new plans.

The first man I spoke to outside the work center in Prestwich says the new sanctions won’t affect him as he can’t work for health reasons and is therefore not looking for work.

The man is still upset about the new proposals and is willing to speak, but wishes to remain anonymous.

The father of one says he is also a full-time caretaker for his wife and has experienced the struggles of job hunting in the past.

He says, “I think it’s terrible. It’s a lot of c*p.

“How are people supposed to live if you keep sanctioning them?

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“Even for minor offenses they are sanctioned.

“It is difficult to find work and people still have to live.

“For some people, a job that is offered might not pay enough to cover the cost of living.

“Once you take out bus fares, buy food at work, etc., you can exercise worse.

“That happened to my wife a few years ago,” he says.

“He was offered a job that would have made him £5 a week, but then he had to factor in transport.

“It was useless”.

Rebecca Ross, 20, lives in Prestwich and suffers from physical and mental health problems.

Studying to be a vocal coach, she suffers from a neurological disorder and has vision problems.

She says two workability tests were canceled, but then her universal credit was cut off because she didn’t show up.

When I approach her, she has just returned to the workplace to reopen her claim.

She said: “I can’t work due to my mental health.

“I was supposed to attend a job evaluation training, but it was cancelled.

“I was told another date would be set, then a loan officer from Universal called and canceled the second date.

“Then they cut off my universal credit; I felt like they were doing it so they didn’t have to pay me.

“It’s not right, it’s unfair.

“Even if I was fit enough to work, I’d like to work at something I’m comfortable with, but getting something close to what you’re looking for is rare.

“If I could work, I would, but you want a job that suits you instead of molding you to fit into a new job.”

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Eighteen-year-old Ben Walsh from Prestwich agrees.

He says, “It’s not a good thing, it’s going to affect a lot of livelihoods.

“It shouldn’t be a thing.”

Ben says he’s just out of college, where he studied creative media, and he’s not ready to go to college yet, so he’s looking for a job.

Currently, she says she lives with her parents, but says without their support she would be under a lot more pressure.

“I live with my parents, if I lived alone I would be under a lot more pressure,” he says.

“It must be hard for teen parents or teens who don’t live at home.

“I’m just looking for any job right now, but there are still certain things I don’t want to do because I’m not good at it, like retail.

“It would be better if people had a little more time to find work.”

Ben says he wasn’t aware of the new plans.

He said: “It hasn’t been spread widely enough, people need to know ahead of time so they can prepare and it won’t be as shocking.”

A 22-year-old from Radcliffe, who gives only his first name as Jamie, says he too thinks it’s hard for young people trying to find work.

He says he would like to be a chef and is interested in a culinary course, but has found that the workplace keeps pushing him toward day labor and warehouse work.

“I feel like I’m being forced to do something.” he says.

Jamie says she has registered her interest in a culinary course and will return to the workplace next week for an update.

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“I feel that young people should be given time to find the right job,” he says. “You’re in a job for much of your life.”



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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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