A YOUNG jobseeker has had her unemployment benefit suspended after missing an appointment – because she was having an over-the-phone job interview.
Lauren Arrowsmith, 22, from Burt Close, Peterlee, says she tried numerous times after her interview with a Sunderland call centre to contact the Peterlee Jobcentre to tell them the reason for missing the appointment.
But she said Department of Work and Pension (DWP) bosses still cut her £51-a-week Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for six weeks.
Lauren said: “I’m trying my best to get a job, and I thought the interview should take more priority.
“I want to get out and work again and not stay on benefits.”
She has been jobless since January, after finishing a six-month call centre contract.
Lauren added the phone interview came “out of the blue” and she did not realise how long it would take.
As part of her claim, she must attend the Jobcentre monthly to get help to look for work, as well as sign on every other week.
When she got through to the Jobcentre, she was asked to attend the next day and later told her money was being stopped.
A decision after a hardship meeting is not expected until next week, and she said that as she is not pregnant, a carer or disabled, her “chances are slim”.
A DWP spokesman said: “It’s only right that people should do all they can to find work if they want to claim JSA and that they let us know if they can’t keep an appointment.
“We make it clear to people at the start of their claim what the rules are and that they risk losing their benefits if they don’t play by them.
“Sanctions are only used as a last resort and those in genuine need can apply for hardship payments.
“If someone disagrees with a decision made on their claim, they can appeal.”