Just over a year ago I was made redundant by my employer after working for them for over 15 years. The job had been comfortably well paid but nothing to get too excited about.
I immediately started applying for a new job but, possibly as I am the wrong side of sixty, although I still have a few working years left nothing came of the applications and the few interviews I had were unsuccessful.
I did not take jobseekers allowance for two reasons
1 - when I tried to apply I found the whole procedure totally demeaning and I was asked enough questions for it to qualify as identity theft. I did not complete the application but gave up before we reached the one about the colour of the underwear.
2 - I did not want to be considered a scrounger even though I was, according to the rules, entitled to it. The effect that those who decry 'benefit scroungers' have is probably deeper than they realise.
My wife and I survived by using up our savings (my son's inheritance), by doing without heating, holidays,travel and by buying only basic foods from cheap supermarkets and spending virtually nothing on anything else. We did not claim any assistance for essential bills, council tax etc. The in-laws helped where they could.
A year later I was offered a basic manual job by an agency and accepted it without thinking twice. It is paid a fraction of the previous job and involves anti-social hours but I am just so pleased to be working again.
I am not proud of what I have done, I don't think that I am righteous for doing it but at least those who come in these columns sounding off about fraud and cheats and who might have seen me, a fit man capable of work, standing in line being given handouts will be unable to include me in their venomous attacks. Well done lads, you've saved the country some money.
But perhaps everyone assumed I was getting benefits anyway.