Jimmy Stirling’s DWP Diary: The hassle of taking a small break


61-year-old Jimmy Stirling signs off from his Jobseeker’s Allowance to enable him to take a short break to visit friends

I AM Jimmy Stirling, a 61-year-old unemployed graphic designer, photographer and musician, single grandfather and social housing tenant living in Glasgow.

I receive Jobseeker’s Allowance of PS50 per week and have a very small pension payment of just under PS25 per week. I do voluntary work for my neighbouring community and look after one of my granddaughters for two days per week.

I was recently conscripted to take part in the UK Government’s Community Work Programme, where I would be forced to work for my Jobseeker’s Allowance, which I see as slave labour.

This not volunteering, this is not being paid a wage, this is conscription.

I am against this terrible programme and this is my experience in trying to avoid a six-month, 30-hours-per-week sentence just to juggle the government’s statistics to make them look good.

Below is my latest diary update. You can read the others here.


1 February 2016

Sometimes you need to get away from it all and follow things that matter in life. This week I will be doing just that. Courtesy of friendship, frugality and a financial bonus of a very small PPI refund, I am taking myself across the pond to visit some dear friends.

However, when I sign on on Wednesday, I immediately have to sign off from getting my Jobseeker’s Allowance. This is due to the fact that you cannot receive Jobseeker’s Allowance when you are out of the UK, because it would be seen as not actively seeking work or not being available should a job turn up; this mythical fantasy that a job just right for you would suddenly be handed in to the jobcentre.

So, I have to forfeit two weeks allowance as I will not be in the country. I will have to make a rapid reclaim on my return. With the DWP working in closer harmony with Revenue and Customs, it is not worth the hassle of trying to slip out of the country.

This is just a small sacrifice to be reunited with people who made a large impression on me and looked after me in the past and who, like everyone, are not getting any younger. There will be much music and laughter and love.

I am aware that the battle is not over with the Jobcentre and the next line of Tory Government sanctions is yet to be thrust upon us but, until then, I will try to put them out of my mind.

Jimmy’s diary will return on CommonSpace in a fortnight.

Picture courtesy of Andrew_Writer