In 2003, under a Labour government, I claimed benefits for one month before starting work part-time and then coming off benefits once I was earning more than the £53 a week (incidentally the same amount paid out 12 years later).

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Quick quiz: whose real name was Royston Vasey?

Between 1994 and 1996, under a Conservative Government, I claimed benefits and was actively discouraged (such as a guy yelling at me ‘you should be looking for a job’) from pursuing the journalism work I was already getting, which lead to a place on a postgraduate course, an industrial placement and then full time employment for 5 years.

You only need to watch League of Gentlemen’s character Pauline to see exactly what this was like. The lady who ran the Job Plan Workshop in Holloway (not the prison!) was called Pauline too.

In the 1990s, I attended Job Club everyday, job plan workshop and when I disclosed 2 days work (not acquired through the Job Club but on my own esteem, but I wanted the kind lady running the Job Club to get credit) I was hauled into a backroom in the Job Centre to be threatened and grilled about taking work before telling the welfare state.

There are many things that the UK rail networks could learn from the French

There are many things that the UK rail networks could learn from the French

This is to point out what the emphasis was on during these 2 time periods. Only through my limited experience of course. It also shows that a working system could still now be created by focusing on employment instead of on unemployment.

Setting people impossible targets that they have no control over (especially with a system of rewarding companies for taking on, for instance, 18-24 year-olds for ‘apprenticeships’, while preventing employers from stating the criteria in the advertising, therefore wasting over-age applicants from wasting their time by applying, with age discrimination laws that work against their intended purpose).

Why not just reward companies for creating jobs by bringing industry into the UK? If tax law could be used for anything, it could be used for encouraging job creation. After all, do we want to be so dependent on other countries instead of increasing our own self-sufficiency.

What I have never understood is the arrogance of politicians that seems to prevent them from looking at what works in other countries and copying it in the UK. The first time this thought occurred to me was over the French rail network.

An increasing number of people are applying for each job, while the amount of vacancies is decreasing. This Channel 4 news report provides some figures.

By taking an overall look at today’s job market, it is clear that whole sections of society are not free to work, particularly those trapped in a benefits system that is so flawed that it achieves the exact opposite to what it purports to.

In 20013-2014, almost a million people were given 3 day emergency food and support. 913,318 according to figures. Food poverty is in the UK.

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Food banks are appearing all over the UK with an increasing amount of people becoming reliant on them.

With the staggering numbers of people who have had their benefits sanctioned leaving them without sufficient funds even for bare essentials, it is time to look at some realities about job prospects.

I will do this by comparing the job markets of the 50s/60s with that of today.

Here are some reports appearing in the nationals about the actions of Iain Duncan Smith and the Department of Work and Pensions.

How many people coming off benefits are finding work? – The Guardian

The Jobless are being punished with hunger – The Independent

Benefits Sanctions Bully Claimants – The Guardian, comment.

Benefits Sanctions – Radio 4, File on 4

Benefit ‘Hit Squads’ set up Claimants to fail – The Guardian

Let’s see if there are any helpful suggestions for the DWP (to ignore like they do much research, the CAB, law centres, press reports and numerous other people including MPs such as Debbie Abrahams, who all suggest that the system is a complete failure).

How has the job market changed over the decades?

With a broad sweep of the brush, here is a picture of the job market in our grandparents’ time (or 1950s and 1960s). It seems as if the UK government has not noticed any changes since these times:

Employment agencies recruited staff for large estates

Employment agencies recruited staff for large estates

The ‘upper class’ employed people on their estates, were often self sufficient for food and lived off rents and other means of interests, but didn’t enter paid employment working for someone else.

The ‘middle class’ contained both ‘business’ and ‘professions’. When my parents were setting out in life, people went to university to study law, medicine and religion (plus other ‘professions’ not mentioned here). Teacher training was not dependent on a degree. My mother entered teacher training after her A’levels.

The ‘Working Class’ were named that because they did all the jobs that people who needed to earn a living did. Private income was essentially required to qualify as a doctor or lawyer.

“In the early 1960s, only about one in 20 young people were going into higher education”

- BBC article

Employees ran the estates of the upper classes, manufactured, catered, farmed, mined, retailed and did just about everything else that needed doing.

Searches for factories in the UK on Google had few results, so had to go historically

Searches for factories in the UK today produced next to no images on Google.

The education system we know and (add your own word here) today was created by the 1850s – based on a German schooling model – to make the workforce compliant with the industrial revolution. That meant weavers, bakers, candlestick markers, knife sharpeners and everyone else had to be retrained to become an efficient cog in the wheel of industry.

(For the sake of argument on changes over decades in the core job market, I’m missing out Victorian child labour, the fortunes of disabled people before Victorian ‘philanthropists’ became squeamish about how they made a living and the whole slave trade, plus other aspects, all of which require more research and discussion).

Doctors and Lawyers. Stiff workplace completion. Click for more Kip Piper cartoons.

Doctors and Lawyers. Stiff workplace competition. Click for more Kip Piper cartoons.

My father did not have the academic requirement (or desire) to become a doctor or lawyer, fight in a war or go into the church, so he did any odd jobs he could find; hod carrying, sold beds in Selfridges and stationary sales and finally became a petrol pump attendant. One day a lady in a very attractive car tipped him off about advertising sales being a nice little earner.

In our grandparents’ day there were social confines and conventions at play. People in ‘professions’ looked down on anyone in ‘business’.

I’m sure you can see plenty of changes that have emerged since our grandparents entered the workplace. One clear pattern is that even people who don’t need to earn a living to survive want to do something with their lives.

The next blog will look at things as they are now and see what changes the government could effect (if it wanted to, but it obviously doesn’t) to put the pressure on employers, not workers (who have no control over recruitment processes).

Sneak trailer for next blog: much greater honesty and transparency in recruitment and employment.

What happened to ‘if you can’t beat ‘em join em?’.

This was my first response to the press coverage on this story about Maximus’ appointment of Sue Marsh, which did the usual thing of quoting responses from various people without much context or provision of facts. Please see Anita’s excellent comment below this post.

This refers to the Daily Wail article in which a previous campaigner, Sue Marsh, who had her own experiences of trying to claim Employment Support Allowance with Crohn’s disease, has been employed as the head of customer relations by the new company Maximus to carry out Work Capability Assessments (WCA).

Managing learning disabilities at work.

Managing learning disabilities at work.

If the company have chosen a campaigner with first hand experience of what they are dealing with, isn’t that better than another person like IDS who disregards the people whose lives he has effect over?

All the criticisms are based on assumptions, not on delivered outcomes and show a bias and a lack of listening to the intentions of the lady.

If more people who wanted to work and come off sickness benefits into well paid jobs in which they can exert change and show that a good salary does greatly improves their quality of life and changes misconceptions about people with disabilities to employers, isn’t this a good thing?

Sue Marsh is someone I would love to interview on my radio show to get the full and, probably, more interesting story then the usual arm-biting reaction from the press.

If two people were to have a running race along the beach and one person had to be waist deep in water while the other ran along the sand, who do you think would win?

Of course the person on the beach would win every time. Does that reflect the skills of the individual or their circumstances? I’d like to hear Iain Duncan Smith answer that one.

Determine

Although people applying for jobs cannot ever determine the outcome of any of their applications, all the onus on getting into work is put on the applicant, not employers. With far too few jobs to go round, the chances of someone on benefits being picked for a job is pretty slim, especially without rules for fair selection or incentives.

The other alternative would be to highlight the benefits of employing people who have been out of work. Everyone I know who is unemployed is desperate seeking work and one friend calls a job a “working holiday” from the oppression and stress imposed on them by the welfare state.

I read an academic paper which set out all the reasons why employers shouldn’t have to hire people off benefits. The reasons given are blatant discrimination and I will not give that link the air of publicity by sharing it.

Source

The New Economics Foundation is a fantastic source of research-based information, which includes an essential understanding of how people work psychologically, For some obscure reason the government doesn’t seem to think it the slightest bit relevant to understand the nature of human beings when making decisions that determine their very lives.

Here, the New Economics Foundation illustrates how the welfare state cannot possibly meet the aims it sets out to achieve and why.

Then and now. Tim Lott's article from 2010.

Then and now. Tim Lott’s article from 2010.

Last weekend, while bored I skimmed through the Daily Star and found a tiny, left hand page news item of about 10 lines. It reported how a benefits assessor had created and approved 6 fictional housing benefit claimants to steal £32,000.

Thousands

Apparently, if you are earning a full-time salary and take thousands from the public purse for your own enjoyment, you are not “scrounging” because you don’t need the money. When did “scrounging” to keep food on the table and a roof over your head become worse than “stealing”?

Meanwhile, Channel 4 seemed to think that the discrimination, economic barriers, the maze of the welfare state and the stigma attached to being on benefits is not severe enough, so they made Benefits Street to further entrench the misconceptions pedaled by fact-ignorant politicians into the public’s mind.

Here is the Daily Mirror on further challenges faced by people on benefits at the hands of the politician propaganda pedalled public.

Entitled

The Guardian even reveals how a “climate of fear” about the stigma of claiming benefits puts 1.8million people off money they are entitled to. Unclaimed benefits get mentioned, see this BBC report, but it certainly worries Iain Duncan Smith less than the smaller amount lost to benefit fraud.

Before I say Rant Over, my search for people who were unemployed before they were famous has not been very fruitful. The same list: Larry David, JK Rowling, Susan Boyle, Quentin Tarrantino keeps coming.

Although Tim Lott reflects on both sides of the equation, including shared attitudes that no one would dare express today, in his Guardian column from 2010, he does mention the creative response to being on benefits during the 1980s recession.

“…many musical acts that emerged from of the 80s, were recruited from, and were a response to, the lengthening dole queues.”

As I’ve said before, who is going to be wheeled out for the closing ceremony next time the Olympics comes to the UK? One Direction?

Rant over.

dairyofanonnymoose:

Thanks to Johnny Void for writing this.

Originally posted on the void:

dwp-benefit-fraudWith the amount of money lost to fraud and error in the benefit system reaching record highs under this Government, the DWP has issued a call for people to grass up their nieghbours if they suspect them of low level benefit fraud, or even going on holiday.

The latest boringly predictable campaign is not aimed at high level organised fraud, such as people setting up fake identities to claim benefits.  Neither is it aimed at landlords picking up Housing Benefit cheques long after tenants have departed, or exploitative employers paying cash to cut down on their National Insurance bill – or even dodge the minimum wage.  It is not just a fraction of a parcentage of claimants who benefit from working cash in hand, but often the latte slurping middle classes who are quite happy to look the other way if it gets them a cheap builder.

Instead this…

View original 588 more words

The BBC have just reported on the government’s advertising campaign (at what cost?) in their attempt to cut down on ‘benefit fraud’.

Here is that article.

The BBC doesn’t look into any factors which contribute to the government’s claims they lose £1bn a year. Why is the BBC so faithfully publicising the official line without any investigation into facts or proper research?

This BBC report is blatantly biased towards the government and against the people who fund it through their TV license. It lacks any sign of balanced journalism. It is probably a government issued press release faithfully reported without any editorial input.

Where are the journalists seeking truth who take the wider view to ask why there is a higher amount in unclaimed benefits that people are eligible to than the amount lost in fraud (see previous blog)? Surely the BBC should be asking, for all us license payers, why is the system is failing everyone so grotesquely?

Here is an article in the Guardian which gives a more researched and investigated look at the whole picture, by looking at figures, trends and behaviours, such as the strong work ethic found in people from families with a generation of worklessness.

A position of responsibility is needed to see why benefits are not reaching the right people. The government plumps the blame for its failures squarely on people who have no power over its methods.

Is the system more accessible to people with time, leisure, comfort of mind and a lack of urgency? Is this a state of being that a busy person, short of income, juggling family and work and struggling to make ends meet and focus on matters in their day-to-day lives, or is this the profile of the exact kind of fraudster who has worked out how to play the system to get more money?

Do conditions and requirements from people get clearly communicated so that it is fair on honest people, or is the system so tricky to navigate that it consistently catches out honest, trusting people and leaves the system open to people who are out to learn how to play the game?

The BBC quotes the Work and Pensions minister saying there are “new and better” methods of detection by police and officials. That sounds like increased bully-boy tactics to me.

What are these new and better methods? And why is the focus always on wrongdoing in a ‘guilty until proven innocent’ way?

None of the conditions of receiving benefits are helpful to people who are honestly and diligently seeking work. As it is so much harder to get from benefits into full time work, people need:

* Attention space to look for work.

* Enough money to live on without the distraction of undue stress and worry.

* Means to travel in order to reach interviews on time and to get to work on time and be able to get home without impeding their health.

* Confidence to do their best in interviews.

* Encouragement to seek out work that will sustain.

* The means to dress according to expected levels of smartness and dress codes for work applied for.

Where is any proof that these calls are done honestly? Surely a person committed to getting free government money is going to do whatever they can to protect themselves from detection, including shopping in anyone they think might report them?

The whole system is based on hearsay, not on proof. That means it is one person’s word against another’s. That could not be more open to fraud if it tried.

(If you want the gist, and can’t be arsed to read the following rant, to doubly check you are registered to vote and have given all (newly, quietly introduced) required info, go to www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and give NI number, date of birth etc).

MPs must have a laugh amongst each other on the District Line from Wimbledon on their way into work, about what they are going to do that day to squeeze more money out of the nation.

This is a result of the Electoral Registrations and Administrations Bill that has just passed through this year. Read more about the change from household to Individual Electoral Registration (IER) via the Three Rivers Borough website.

Betterment

You’d hope there would be betterment schemes being planned, problems being solved, funding being allocated into places that will save other costs across the board etc. But no.

Government departments and local authorities have become like the Sheriff of Nottingham, turning law abiding citizens into Robin Hoods by the dozen.

Despite the proliferation of media, social networks, technology etc, the recent introduction of a fine if you don’t register to vote is being so badly communicated that chaos is surely going to break out (and give ebola a run for its money).

To do councils jobs for them, this is what to expect:

1. If you are new to your address or a new voter, you get a generically addressed “household enquiry form”. This looks like the already (previously known) recognised quick, simple electoral registration process, which only asks for the names of the people over 18 in the household.

(There was mention on this form of a possible up to £1,000 fine).

2. Then (no publicity, no media, no awareness campaign) you get an individually named form asking for NI number, date of birth and optional contact details.

electoral registerThis is where councils should be sanctioned for their inability to choose the correct words to put on their letters. Therefore:

Mention

Even though this is the FIRST mention of wanting NI numbers, (NO publicity, NO media, NO advertising, NO awareness campaign) in italics in the first paragraph it says:

“If you have already responded to a previous letter inviting you to register, please ignore this reminder – there is sometimes a delay processing applications.”

This could not be more incorrect, misleading and confusing, therefore causing people stress and distraction. That’s what we pay council tax for? Cheers.

Why:

1. ‘Already responded”. Yes, to the household enquiry form asking for names of voters in the household. But this one is individually named and the names came from the “previous letter” (see below). Downright confusing, misleading and distracting. (Deliberately to collect those fines off the honest but unwitting?).

2. What “previous letter”. Could they not NAME or DESCRIBE it? Surely it’s a “form” not a “letter”? It could be anything. Is this deliberately misleading to rake in all those fines??????? The only “previous letter” I had was the  “household enquiry forms” (you only get this description when you PHONE UP to ASK)  which DIDN’T tell me that it would be followed by another step in the process in which new information is now being requested. therefore:

3. “Please ignore this reminder”. It’s a REMINDER is it? Reminding me what? I have filled in one form. (Should have said you will receive ANOTHER FORM, not act as if that is that, you have now registered to vote. NO. “We have changed the system and you will receive another form.” NO, OF COURSE THOSE WORDS WERE MISSING IN ACTION.

(Instead of the word “reminder” let’s call it a “form” and for clarity, the words “we have just changed the system and now want your NI number, so if you haven’t already provided this please fill in the form or go to the website.” should appear. Clarity? The only thing in common with councils and clarity is starting with the letter c, which is also the start of another word for councils).

4. “There is sometimes a delay in processing applications”. No. They are totally not on top of the paperwork they have caused by confusing, misleading and distracting EVERYONE. EVERYBODY. It also means “there is another step in this process when we come back and ask for more info, so your application isn’t completed yet.”

Then it says: “to make sure you stay registered to vote…”. No. What is means is (but could never in the fucking world say anything close) is “we now want your NI number and date of birth. We didn’t warn you on the previous letter and therefore now you need to give us those details.”

Why they now have to do this is in 2 whole separate stages is beyond me. In most people’s point of reference, there is one form that provides the names of people old enough to vote. If there IS more info wanted, why didn’t they send out the new form in the first place? We CAN ACTUALLY fill in our own details.

The problem is, we now have no power over the way the public sector spends our tax money. Had it been me, I would have written to each household saying:

Dear occupant:

We have introduced new rules to make everyone over 18 vote, using a fine if they ignore the electoral register.

Now we want you to tell us your name, address, date of birth, national insurance number and, if you want to but don’t have to, your contact details.

Fill in this form and return it in the prepaid envelope or go online and the system will walk you through.

Thank you for your time.

How much public money could THAT have saved us in time, postage, paper and printing?

None of this bollocks about ‘staying’ registered to vote (requiring more details) or a remind (compulsory form, first sighting too) or ‘delay in processing’ (you haven’t finished the process and we want more info but are incapable of saying anything remotely close to this).

And I expect an awareness campaign in the press so that councils are acting responsibly about ensuring the new information and changes to the system have landed in everyone’s worlds so no one can say they didn’t know, thought they were already registered, had ‘responded to a previous letter’ so didn’t complete the process or didn’t realise they had to register to vote or would be fined.

If these mailings have not reached everyone that is the RESPONSE to the council’s communication impact, and they need to grow the ABILITY to take this as evidence of a massive fail on THEIR part. That would be RESPONSE ABILITY. ABILITY TO RESPOND AND TAKE A RESPONSE. Not put the whole onus on the other person who had no control over what councils chose to do or say to correct their mistakes.

electoral rollThere is of course the usual concerned press about these quiet and sneaky changes that ripple underneath the skin of generally accepted public perception.

Rant over.

Actually, N.B. Are there REALLY enough people for this question:

Just shows how patronising the public sector is about the nation.

The Scotsman

As a music blogger, it seems to me that the music industry has been drying up, particularly since July just gone.

Please be aware this is only conjecture. My intention is to seek out solutions to get around the obstacles mentioned below.

Each week I visit a series of new music websites to hear and comment on releases as soon as I can find them on YouTube.

IMG_1216

Nick Mears, Frankie and Amy take to the stage in Falmouth.

There were some good ones such as Ella Henderson’s “Glow” and others by Gorgon City, Sigma with Paloma Faith, Kiesza and Charlie XCX, but these started to dwindle after mid-July to very few in the last 3 months.

People will continue to want to listen to, buy and play music, but what if it has become so difficult to make music in today’s economic conditions, such as:

  • Student fees.
  • Benefit sanctions.
  • Housing benefit limitations.
  • Abolition of council tax benefit.
  • Greatly raised basic living costs due to widespread new “basic essentials” such as mobile phones and Internet access, without which people would face a degree of exclusion.
  • Constant monitoring, requirement for travel, obligatory courses and work schemes for those on benefits.
  • Fierce competition for even the most basic jobs.
  • Lack of employment.
  • Lack of variety in employment opportunities to match variety of academic qualifications.
  • Lack of realistic or helpful careers advice.
  • The health, productivity and mental effects of stress such as constant distraction on people not meeting their living costs.
  • The distraction and costs imposed by the welfare state, which reduces time and attention spent on looking for work.
IMG_1170

Kosheen performs at Motion in Bristol, showing how stage presence, contemporary sound, good songs and definite arrangements rock.

Someone with creative talent leaving education today probably faces an assault course of barriers in the way of their path into a creative career that best meets their skills and abilities.

When you consider the constant demand for creative output by the general public, this seems disjointed and the backlash is very much against the economy because:

  • Many people are out of work due to a shortage of jobs.
  • Money spent, or even wasted, by the benefit system on unproductively dealing with the unemployed while not improving their employment chances.
  • Therefore the time, costs and attention required to be on benefits greatly reduces the same spent on producing and developing creative output.
  • Everyone is being forced to focus on the narrowing pool of opportunities to earn a living before getting involved with any other activities.
  • Lack of surplus income to get out and meet other people to be creative with.
  • Closure of places that gather people to carry out creative activities.
  • Closure of creative activity in the education system.
  • Emphasis in the education system on academic activities, even in the creative arts, which excludes the skills and learning styles of people with a creative profile.
  • The resulting loss of taxable income from the lack of opportunity for creative output.
  • The redirection of money away from the creative industries due to lack of creative output.

Out of these conditions, I would personally say that someone wanting to enter music, art, drama, film or any other creative industry may want to consider a life course by replicating the life conditions of those who have become successful from previous decades.

This could mean avoiding some of the widely accepted pathways, which won’t result in the best circumstances to pursue a creative path.

In the days of the Doors (pictured: Doors Alive) economic conditions were doubtlessly more helpful to young artists

In the days of the Doors (pictured: Doors Alive) economic conditions were doubtlessly more helpful to young artists

Unfortunately, it seems, a lot of learning is tied up in the formal academic process, with a huge reduction in City and Guilds, HNDs or apprenticeships. Even the Postgrad certificate I did in 1997 was skills based, not academic.

Therefore, how would the creative, non-academic person fare best today? How can we ensure we have a productive, creative industry for the future?

As Cath Kitson said in an interview, to paraphrase, while her friends were at college (this is before the introduction of course fees) she was out working in retail earning £100 a week.

I, personally, having thought about this a lot, would suggest:

  • Getting involved in your local radio station who might offer some free training and experience doing a radio show.
  • Fully exploring work opportunities to get into any job as soon after leaving education as possible. (Reading: Stephen King’s book on writing, in which he was doing 2 jobs until his writing started to take off).
  • Don’t just follow the herd to university. Seriously weigh up all the factors and ask other people for their ideas open mindedly. Don’t make your mind up because of peer or parental pressure. Become good at making your own choices best on what you find is best for you.
  • Finding places to meet other people with same interests and abilities to start working with.
Fab girl group The Eyelids return to Jakes to delight core fans in Falmouth.

Fab girl group The Eyelids return to Jakes to delight core fans in Falmouth.

Applying Yourself (list continued):

  • Applying yourself to your chosen creative activities.
  • Put any money you acquire into the things you need for your creative work (rather than spending it all on drink etc).
  • Don’t get sidetracked by too many fun but unproductive activities in your precious free time.
  • Have realistic expectations of your bread and butter job, but of course learn how to not be exploited or mistreated. (Useful throughout working life).
  • Tip for above: learn how to ask questions in interviews to find out about your employer and working conditions to see if you would like to work for them.
  • (When you get good at tip above, interviewers will start falling over each other to get you as they will be in the hot seat having to sell themselves to you).
  • Review the factual (not media) histories of established artists in your chosen area to look for clues on how to find your best way forward.
  • Become good at working with other people.
  • Become good at empowering other people to help you by finding out what they want to achieve/what they can get out of working with you.
  • Gauge the stage you are at accurately.
  • Stay humble and don’t assume anyone owes you anything.
  • Get good at doing everything as economically as possible. This doesn’t mean cutting corners or employing false economies. Learn the difference. This again involves team work.
  • Set up events, get people involved, publicise these events, create your own opportunities.
  • Have a steady output of work in 3 stages: 1. to get a reaction, 2. to widen your audience 3. to reach success.

Well that’s all I’ve got time for. Please send in comments as this is all just an open debate of ideas.

 

I’ve recently heard about sanctions, when someone has been kicked off benefits after 3 months, despite their efforts to find work and their circumstances.

There have been reports in the broadsheet and tabloid press about people who have starved to death in their homes due to having nothing to live on.

Here’s a fictional scene (from my imagination) of MPs being sent to the job centre.

INT. DAY. JOB CENTRE.

At first glance you might have thought you were in the recreation room in the House of Commons as several men in suits and ties and some plump women in twin-sets or skirt suits, all approaching or past middle age, fill all the chairs in the centre of the room.

AGENT: Montgomery. You’re next.

A dark suited man sits opposite a spotty man in his early twenties.

AGENT: I see you want to work in politics. We don’t have anything like that here at moment. What other experience do you have.

(A long silence)

MONTGOMERY: I cared for my elderly mother for a few years. I did cookery, electrical works, set up the home entertainment system for her and bought her groceries.

(A long silence)

AGENT: OK. That’s a start. What certificates do you have?

Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 14.50.41MONTGOMERY: Here’s my degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from King’s College Oxford.

AGENT: No, I meant Hygiene for cookery, CORGI, People Handling, that kind of thing.

MONTGOMERY: No.  How would I get those?

AGENT: They can be bought through the regulation bodies. You just need to prove your work is up to a reasonable standard to apply.

MONTGOMERY: Can we look at other options. I don’t have much money to live on at the moment.

AGENT: Let’s see. Retail…..Retail…….what about becoming a parking attendant?

MONTGOMERY: This is ridiculous.

AGENT: I would take it as there are plenty of others over there who will if you don’t.

MONTGOMERY: And if I hold out for something more suitable?

AGENT: You would run the risk of your benefits being stopped.

…..

See next blog on the effects of the welfare state on the creative industries.