Free travel for Barking jobseekers

Cash-strapped jobseekers are being offered free travel on their way to interviews as part of a new scheme to help the unemployed in their search for work.

In what is thought to be the first offer of free rail travel to jobless people, train operator c2c will give people travelling to job interviews up to six free rail tickets as well as two months’ free rail travel when they land work.

The initiative is organised through the Job Centre.

Barking MP Margaret Hodge joined the train company’s managing director Julian Drury at Barking station on Friday to help raise awareness of c2c’s new JobStart scheme.

She said: “This is a great idea. Travelling to job interviews and having to find the money for train fares before you have received your first pay cheque can be a challenge, especially if you have been out of work for some time, so I welcome this initiative from c2c.

“It’s a good idea and I look forward to see people from Barking benefiting from it.”

Mr Drury added: “We are giving free train travel to help job seekers in Barking and East London return to work, potentially saving them �500 at a time when their money is particularly tight.

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“c2c has been part of the community for the last 16 years and we consider it our duty to make our own contribution to help local residents during these difficult economic times.”

The tickets will be valid on c2c trains only and there will be a �10 one-off administration fee for the monthly season tickets.

The company operates trains from Barking and Dagenham Dock stations to Fenchurch Street, Liverpool Street and Shoeburyness.

Similar schemes for free bus travel are known to have been offered by local authorities in the past.

While jobless Londoners are entitled to a 50 per cent discount on buses and trams, research conducted last year found that those in some boroughs were not taking full advantage of the benefit.

London Travel Watch found that Barking and Dagenham had the lowest proportion of jobseekers making use of the scheme.

Just 24 per cent of those eligible in the borough used it, while the London average was 65 per cent.