For the last 5 years January has tended to be a month of tenant depression and apathy. Casual work is near existent or thin on the ground, most were paid before Christmas so have had to survive an extra 1 or 2 weeks or, as in most cases, it was all spent during Christmas and New Year. Typically, I’ll have at least 3 tenants starting the month with “Err, can’t pay the rent because [delete as appropriate] I needed to get my girlfriend a very expensive present/I wanted a top of the range mobile/dunno, just don’t have any”. It’s OK, I budget for this and they usually catch up by the end of the February [if they want to stay!].
But not this year! Maybe it’s the winter sunshine, maybe it’s because no one can sink any lower in terms of job prospects or maybe they realise the Government training schemes won’t give them a job and they’ll have to do it all by themselves. The recession in 2008 seemed to hit my tenants first – no longer able to pass themselves off as builders, kitchen fitters or painters as they did in the boom years due to plenty of work and a shortage of decent, qualified people to do it. Four years of moaning about “this bl**dy country” and no jobs for the unskilled, yet not a peep about the rising cost of beer, they’ve had to learn to be more creative with their job search.
David has finally got himself a retail job in a health food shop (a complete antithesis of all he believes in!), Nadine has become involved in setting up a drug rehabilitation project to further her volunteering skills, Justin’s doing well at his new charity job selling subscriptions on the street and Zitomir (the mad Czech) has been working hard doing “security” and been very quiet after inviting my children to meet his non-English speaking children and “perhaps we could turn it into a date?” idea. Even Tom is fired up with a new project: having realised he’s not very employable but has some creative skills he’s going to renovate unwanted furniture and sell it on. I’ve given him a couple of pieces to start with and told him to research the local vintage shops (which are springing up all over) and Ebay. In fact, Ebay is a bit difficult due his lack of computer skills and, er, computer. I suggested he gave a house mate 10% of the profits to list any pieces for him.
Alas, the same cannot be said for my Romanian Border Guard. His command of English is outstanding, his work ethic beyond reproach and he’s always well presented. He’s desperate to get a card that allows him to work legitimately in the UK, rather than the 4 hours cleaning a day he does at the moment, his paperwork is in order, but the powers-that-be have refused to grant him the necessary permit. He says that, according to his compatriots in London, it’s because he’s Romanian and the UK Government have issued an order, just before Christmas, not to give any Romanian nationals the right to work here.
On another note: according to the tenants, CSCS cards (permits that allow one to work in the building trade) can be bought from a bloke in the pub for £110. Alternatively, you can be conventional by studying the Health and Safety manual and take it up to 3 times free of charge!