Unemployed march against 'oppressive' benefits rules
JOBSEEKERS in Derby took to the streets yesterday to highlight the often impossible task they face of meeting tough rules to qualify for benefits.
More than 50 people marched from the Job Education Training (JET) centre in Normanton Road to the Jobcentre Plus office, at the opposite end of Normanton, yesterday afternoon.
The protest was organised by the Derby Unemployed and Claimants Group, which was set up by Derby Trades Council to campaign for those out of work.
Secretary Keith Venables said: "We are marching to Job Centre Plus with claimants who have been set tasks they cannot complete. The tasks require high-level language, literacy and computer skills they haven't got, and if they don't get the tasks done, their benefits are stopped."
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Many of those on the march were from Eastern Europe.
Mr Venables said: "A lot of people don't have computers, their only means of access to computers is via libraries or other publicly-available internet access, without which they are unable to carry out the set tasks.
"Of course, over the Christmas period, these public access areas are closed, preventing claimants from completing their tasks and, as such, they've been told they will lose their benefit."
The protesters presented a letter to Jobcentre Plus calling for change.
Mohammed Sharief, executive director of JET, which offers help to people looking for work, said he was "appalled by the oppressive measures that are being imposed" on the unemployed.
He added: "JET feels that such box-ticking, standardised measurements are often futile and counter-productive. They do nothing to recognise people's differing situations and potential. They simply demoralise the genuine jobseeker and are likely to have little effect on anyone who may be reluctant to find work."
During a workshop at JET yesterday, one man revealed the hoops through which he was required to jump to receive his benefits. Josef Sana, aged 52 with a child under 16, said he was required to carry out 52 job searches in a fortnight to continue claiming his Jobseekers' Allowance.
Mr Venables said: "There aren't many jobs and pathways to training are limited. Support agencies like JET that enable claimants to seek for jobs and do their tasks are under-funded and at breaking point."