Letter: Out of work, but `jobless' no more

Sir: The "sharp fall in the jobless"(report, 19 December) need not "refuel rate fears" if my experience is anything to go by. I was registered as unemployed, and would have remained so if the rules had not been changed when the Job Seekers Allowance was introduced.

While the Job Centre did not pay me anything, my National Insurance contributions were kept up and I benefited from concessionary entrance prices to venues ranging from my local leisure centre to the Natural History Museum.

I was allowed to "sign on" fortnightly by post, as I live some seven miles from the Job Centre in Watford. This saved me time and money, and reduced road pollution. With the Job Seekers Allowance came a new rule that postal clients could only remain so if they could not reach the Job Centre by public transport in under one hour.

Not being prepared to go through the inconvenient and slightly tacky process of signing on in person, this, my first encounter with the benefits system, has ended as part of the alleged "reduction" in unemployment of 95,800 in November. Of course, the reality of my unemployed state has not changed.

DEREK S ALLEN

Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire

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