You don't need to sign on anymore. Register as a self-employed whatever you were before with the Inland Revenue and then find work that pays cash- Cabbie, gardener, caretaker, market staller, flat-roofer- anything and claim Working Tax Credit. You can earn £20 a week for free! and estimate your earnings for the first year as effectively zero. You will get just about what you get on the dole every four weeks and you can work without signing on. You will be able to claim Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit too. Next April do a tax return online (self-assessment) after registering for the online service and work through the return using the Help items on each section. It is easier than you think. When the tax is calculated if it is too much go back and see if you can't raise your expenses somewhat and fiddle around until you have a reasonable amount to pay. Submit the return and file the submittal receipt. If you have made zero then show this and your Working Tax Credit will continue at the full amount. If you have made a profit it will be subtracted from your Working Tax Credit and you will be paid the balance. You don't have to sign on every two weeks. You stay in the workforce. You can re-build and diversify your employment activity and quite probably end up as I did with a whole new income and a whole new career. All this pitiful stuff about the dole queue is nonsense. The answer lies in using the system properly and being flexible and entrepreneurial with your abilities. And remember it was Labour who put the system in place. Don't be fooled by the hype regarding the difficulties involved in Working Tax Credits; if you can't fill in a form then go and sign on and be miserable; if you can't do simple maths and see if you are getting the correcty amount without being over or under paid, then sign on and give up; if tax forms send you to sleep then get bookeeper to do your return every year, average cost at the moment in our town: £75 (take this off your gross as expenses!!). None of this is a fiddle and you can have an income of up to £52,000 a year and still be eligible for some WTC. Obviously not much but if you have a huge family and need help with your mortgage do the online check for WTC and it will tell you if you are going to get anything. If you get even a tiny amount it will almost certainly make you eligible for help under Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit so do it and get control of your life before you get so depressed that you start to believe the rubbish you will read about the world having ended because there are no nice little PAYE jobs anymore like the one you have just lost. Oh; and vote Labour because the Conservatives will want you to be one of the mass of sheep waiting until they have crap little jobs available for you at below the minimum wage, which they will have scrapped.