I was made redundant once in my early working life, during one of the UK's seemingly frequent recessions. Do they happen every decade?
The thought of looking for a new job, where I lived, did not thrill me at all. The opportunities weren't numerous. I also realised that the only way to avoid debt, and be able to continue paying the mortgage was to move out and let my flat. A friend was renting a room at the time, he had to go aswell! It was shortly after the UK's exit from the Exchange Rate Mechanism, the precursor to the Euro. During that period interest rates shot-up just prior to the exit.
Where to go? What to do? A friend who had also been made redundant suggested that we should go to France for six months, to learn French. So we did. For me, it ended up being for 18 months. It was a good time.
We signed on the dole in Annecy, as we knew from the UK dole office that we could claim UK dole money and receive it in France. I cannot remember exactly but we received the money three months later. We were elligable for three months money only. We were not entitled to money from the French Government. And with time we got established and found jobs. The jobs we got were not very well paid, but we got by.
I mention this experience from my early days of working because there is something I do not understand about what David Cameron is trying to achieve.
My understanding is this; the current EU treaties we have allow for free movement of people, capital and goods throughout Europe. This principal is supported by national governments not being allowed under EU law to discriminate between national and foreign workers with respect to unemployment benefits. In addition, in work benefits apparently apply aswell. But.....
The value of benefits is determined by the national governments in member countries.
The Conservative government in the UK won the 2015 election on a manifesto that included reducing the cost of the welfare bill.
So what is the point of David Cameron trying to introduce something to differentiate between foreign and national workers?
Surely the two main issues are:-
1) change the unemployment benefits structure, to reduce the welfare bill. Are the in-work benefits too generous? It would be interesting to know how much of this part of the welfare bill goes to foreign workers. This area is completely under the control of the UK government. If the percentage of cost relating to foreign workers is relatively small then why expend political capital trying introduce discrimination which is not allowed under the EU treaties?
2) change the factors that are pushing people to follow the jobs....slow growth in the Euro area countries. From the little we know, this is apparently a feature of David Cameron's negotiations.
It will be interesting to look back at these issues when he does go public on the detail of his negotiations.
...the Undecided Voter!