I will kick off Help Me Investigate Welfare with a topic that is close to my heart as a long-term unemployed – JobCentres Plus and Travel for Interview Scheme, or TIS.
Until earlier this year jobseekers receiving unemployment benefits from the JobCentre used to be able to claim rail warrants for travelling to interviews as long as a) the location of the interview was at a reasonable distance outside their area of residence, b) they could produce evidence of the interview.
Sadly, the Travel for Interview scheme was closed down in April 2011 and funding of travel costs for jobseekers is now at the discretion of each JobCentre’s personal advisers.
In my particular case, the JobCentre banned me from claiming any further funding for travel after my fifth non-local interview, and drove their message home in a not-so-gracious manner too.
With soaring train fares across the country – in some cases said to be higher than a plane ticket, as reported by The Sunday Mirror – and no signs of recovery in the UK economy, the end of the Travel for Interview scheme is likely to end up penalising those jobseekers looking for work beyond their local area because there aren’t enough relevant jobs where they live.
In fact, in an BBC Newsnight interview last October, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith, said unemployed people should “get on the bus” in order to find work because yes, there were jobs, only not necessarily “in the town you are living in”.
Supposing areas in the country with fewer jobs, perhaps for being more rural, were the ones which needed TIS money the most but their JobCentres can no longer provide them as much financial assistance with travel fares? What is the impact likely to be for jobseekers after the end of the TIS? How much money used to be allocated to different JobCentres around the UK? What fund (if any) has now replaced TIS and how large a reduction does it represent?
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