The Truth of Part Time Work
This past week I was offered a two month part time, paid internship copywriting for a website/app. I'll get £400 a month and the experience I'll get by having my reviews published is invaluable. You might think great, well done; you've managed to land that elusive thing - a paid internship! More than that, it's also in an industry that I'm passionate about, which adds bonus points. The truth, though, is that if I wasn't getting paid I likely wouldn't be able to take the job, due to costs that I'll incur travelling to and from the offices, going to restaurants and cafés in order to review them and so on. Luckily I'll be getting £100 a week, which, whilst not extravagant, should cover these things.
This, however, is where I ran into a problem. In the eyes of the government, as I am going to be earning more than the amount of Jobseekers Allowance I usually get each week, I am deemed as being 'above' the line of needing any additional money from them, even though I am only working part time. Because of this, the amount of housing benefit which I receive, to help pay my rent, will decrease. This leaves a shortfall which I have to make up from my wages, as well as paying for bills, food, travel, and other incidentals of my job.
Of course I understand that there has to be a cut off point for providing people with help, but on the money which I am going to be bringing home, after paying out the extra towards my rent it's going to be tight. I'm incredibly lucky that I will still have more money than I currently do on JSA, but a lot of others aren't so fortunate. Especially amongst young women, the rise of part time, low paid work which leaves them no better off than when they were unemployed is a real problem. When you're faced with the choice of either taking such a job, or remaining in the arguably more stable benefits system, some will prefer the safety of knowing how much they have coming in. Zero hour contracts are still legal, and used to exploit a large percentage of workers, adding extra stress to the already fraught realities of being poor.
Right now I am borrowing money left right and centre from friends, just to keep up with my bills, make essential trips across the city, and put food in my cupboards. Once again I realise how lucky I am that I have friends who are able and willing to loan me money which they won't see back for a while, and it is with a lot of hesitation that I ask to borrow from them. However right now it is my only option to survive.
It is with great hope that I take up this internship, and I will be budgeting carefully to ensure I am not left worse off because of it. There is a possibility that it could lead to a full time position, but I can't count on that. For now I will keep searching, and make sure I keep using my voice to let people know the realities of life for young women today.