Humbled Maxwell finds out where to sign on

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The Independent Online
KEVIN MAXWELL, 33, bankrupt and owing pounds 406m, drove his silver Mercedes to the Oxford JobCentre yesterday.

Last week, after the hearing, he declared: 'Bankruptcy is a very public humbling.' Yesterday he still had the beard that first appeared then, the symbol of his newfound humility. What he lacked was the address of the office he wanted.

He went first to a Department of Social Services building he must have noticed through the Mercedes window in happier times. But many things in his life have changed in the past five years, and the building is now disused. A policeman directed him to the JobCentre he wanted, opposite the city's pensioners' club.

After his 15-minute interview with a job counsellor, while others went off to watch a video or sit in the sunshine, he went to London for a meeting. It was not clear whether he had actually registered as available and willing for work; the staff respected his confidence as they would anyone else's.

Signing on is a necessary first step if he wants to claim unemployment benefit. The figures have fewer noughts on than he is used to: if his stamps are paid up, his entitlement would be pounds 43.10 a week, plus pounds 26.60 for any dependent adult.

At his home near by in Hailey, his wife, Pandora, said: 'If he's been to the JobCentre I'm pleased to hear it. I expect it was to sign on.

'Of course he would like to find himself a job, but who would employ him? He would very much like to work but at the moment I think he's effectively unemployable. If he could find a job to fit in with his meetings and interviews with the police and various authorities then I'm sure he would consider it seriously, but he really hasn't got the time right now.'

It will be encouraging for the Maxwells that even in these recessionary times, there is work out there. On the boards at the Oxford JobCentre were several that might suit a man of Mr Maxwell's experience. One advertised opening read: 'Sales Associate with financial services agency. Commission only. Duties will include helping people with finances eg pensions . . . . Training will be given.'