This is an essay is about the effects of unemployment on Londoners that claim jobseekers allowance(JSA) either directly or indirectly through JobcentrePlus(JCP). At the time of writing there are around 2.16 million unemployed people in the UK, with 1.09 million currently claiming JSA (BBC News, 2014). The social stigma attached to the unemployed is one which does not appear to be reflected in the psychological literature, meaning that more research into the structure of the system is needed in order to generate a reform of the culture of welfare-to-work. The sample of welfare claimants qualitatively researched for this article has been taken over a 2yr period through my work as an employability trainer specialising in teaching employability skills to the long-term unemployed in both 18-24 and 25-50 categories. Those researched have participated in employability trainings, work programmes and were in the first stages of claiming JSA. Many JSA claimants report feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, of interest in daily activities, Appetite or weight changes, Sleep changes, Anger or irritability, Loss of energy, Self-loathing and Reckless behaviour; these are also the symptoms of clinical depression (Helpguide.org, 2014). The lack of employment and constant rejections from job applications may result in increasingly lower self-esteem that contributes towards this state of being. The mental resources of jobseekers may increasingly become used up by the relationship with their advisor who assess how much effort they have put into actively searching for work. Beliefs about the availability of work become negative. The longer the jobseeker is out of work, the more they may believe that there IS no work out there that will accept them and value the contribution that they are willing to give. Another factor that can contribute towards a jobseekers lack of ability to find work is low ability in job s
eeking skills. If a jobseeker doesn’t know how to construct a CV
, use jobsearch websites or understand covering letters, their ability to find work may be greatly limited.
The average jobseeker is expected to wake up early and spend their day searching for work opportunities, as well as be at the Jobcentre on specific dates and times as dictated by their advisor. There are times when the jobcentre initiates an intervention by sending the jobseeker on courses or forced training that the job seeker may or may not be interested in. The jobseeker, if they wish to continue receiving their allowance, is not able to refuse this, as it would contravene the social security act that governs the receipt of JSA,. Each jobseeker will have a different emotional reaction to the events out of their control, leading to a projection of hatred towards the Jobcentre, advisor and the benefits system as a whole. Framing effects cause many jobseekers to see JSA money as a wage, or payment, which doesn’t help as this causes the money paid into their account as being
something that is an ‘entitlement’, leading to a certain type of behaviour that is contextually relevant when their ‘entitlement’ is not received, or is lower than
expected. In conclusion, there are various factors that contribute towards continued unemployment, and these are important in the consideration of what may be preventing a claimant from returning to work, especially the mental health dimension.
BBC News. (2014, June 11). Retrieved July 15, 2014, from Economy tracker: Unemployment: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10604117 Helpguide.org. (2014).
Depression Symptoms & Warning Signs: Recognize Depression Symptoms and Get Help. Retrieved July 15, 2014, from helpguide.org: http://www.helpguide.org/mental/depression_signs_types_diagnosis_treatment.htm
The welfare state of mind: By Darren Shaw(2014)