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Page last updated at 06:53 GMT, Friday, 24 April 2009 07:53 UK
Surviving the crunch on 50 a week

By Fiona Graham and Jim Reed


Suada Hamidi who is unemployed, explains how she survives on 50.95 a week

The latest official figures show one in every six young people in the UK is now unemployed, the highest rate in over a decade.

438,000 people between 18 and 24 are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), a number going up by more than 500 a day.

The Princes Trust reckons the real figure could be much higher at 1.5 million because the official statistics miss out 16-18 year olds who are not in a job but have already left school or college.

Under 25s with no children get £50.95 a week in JSA to live on, paid fortnightly usually by direct debit.

Newsbeat spoke to 19-year-old Suada Hamidi from Sevenoaks in Kent. Five months ago she lost her job as a waitress and has been looking for work ever since.

"The right word isn't even 'surviving' really," she said in her video diary. "It's really, really hard for young people at the moment."

After paying her bills and travel costs, Suada is left with around £5 a week for clothes, going out and other expenses.

"When you are running out of money, you really don't go anywhere. I don't see my friends and family or go and get drunk" she said.

Suada has been offered one job as a waitress since going on the dole but the work was only part time on the minimum wage of £4.77 an hour.

Jobseeker's Allowance
The maximum weekly rates are:
Single people aged 16 - 24: £50.95
Single people aged 25 or over: £64.30
Couples and civil partnerships (both aged 18 or over): £100.95
Lone parents (aged under 18): £50.95
Lone parents (aged 18 or over): £64.30

Taking it would have meant losing her council tax benefits and some of her housing allowance, leaving her out of pocket.

She asked for time to think about it but when she called back to take the job the manager had given it to someone else.

"I want to be working every day I can. I would love to see myself owning my own hair salon and not worrying about the next bill and what people say about me," she said.

Support package

In the budget, the government said that under-25s who are unemployed for more than a year will be guaranteed at least the offer of either work or training.

Chancellor Alistair Darling promised to sit down with employers to "create or support as many as 250,000 jobs."

But the details of the plan are still unclear and it is unlikely to come into force before September at the earliest.

Expect to see an increase in benefits for young people who go on a training course and more job offers from local councils.

But economists still expect to see more under 25s sign on over the next 12 months as the next set of young people leave school, college and university into a tough jobs market.


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