HIDDEN UNEMPLOYED: ‘I felt The Job Centre were looking for things to catch me out on’

Rob Leeming has spent five-years on the dole before setting up a new digital media business.

Rob Leeming has spent five-years on the dole before setting up a new digital media business.

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Twenty-four-year-old Rob Leeming from Penwortham was placed on a sanction after he was deemed not to have applied for enough jobs between signing on dates.

He said: “My argument was that all the jobs that were showing on my search I’d already applied for previously, but they stopped my benefits anyway.

Pete set up a car valeting business when he could not find a job

Pete set up a car valeting business when he could not find a job

“It wasn’t too bad for me because I was living with my parents, but for anyone living alone in a flat and having to find money for food or heating, I don’t know how they’d cope.

“I felt like every time I went to sign on they were looking for things to catch me out on and give me a sanction for.

“One time I was interrogated because I said I’d filled in a paper application form for RBS and they argued these didn’t exist anymore.

“They even went to the hassle of ringing the bank and checking. Half an hour later I got an apology when they found out they do still use paper forms.”

After five years on Jobseekers Allowance, he said he felt forced to become a self-employed graphic artist in December 2013.

“It was the only option left to me in this economy”, he said.

“I was going for retail jobs and warehouse jobs, but anything general that goes up on the Job Centre website is applied for by thousands of people and I didn’t get through. It’s not nice, I felt completely dejected.

“I’ve been interested in graphic design for as long as I can remember and so I thought that was the only way I could move forward and earn more than the £152 a fortnight I was getting on Jobseekers.

“I was lucky though because my family have been self-employed and helped me. The Job Centre doesn’t really help with that.”