they only pay your entitlements from when you contact them.
Not true! You can currently get 3 month's worth back paid, but Cameron said the other day that the government will reduce this to 1 month. The forms for this are unbelievable.
Signing on is a not fun! You have to go every two weeks to sign a bit of paper. I suppose it's to stop immigrants signing on, then going back to their home country. I haven't had any useful help or advice from these charmless people yet and they declined my application for jobseekers. They advised me incorrectly on which benefit to apply for, but either way I don't qualify. I have a partner earning etc.
You need to apply for "contributions based" job seekers allowance if you have been full time employed and have been paying class 1 national insurance contributions. (I was self-employed paying class 2 which won't qualify).
There are a raft of other benefits to which you may be entitled and the questions you answer when you call the jobseeker's line will determine what you might get.
My firm advice is: Find a job, any job, then think about holidays!
Sorry to hear your story! All too common these days - firms selling out on UK people in the pursuit of cheaper labour and lower costs elsewhere in the world.
I blame banks for lending too much and inflating prices here. I also blame governments for their incompetence in controlling the banks and big business! And for the ludicrous bureaucracy and taxes on UK businesses! I'm sure the welfare system and overbloated public sector is placing a big burden on the tax system. Shame so many people can't see the need to reduce this.
Big business began to manufacture in China a few decades ago, so we simply can't compete unless we have high import duties. As the world is a now a global village, we UK workers will have to find non-expendable occupations that cannot be exported to the third world!
Personally, I would go all out to find a job utilizing your skills and experience and not waste a moment.