I know that "dole" means "benefit paid by the state to the unemployed". But I wonder how it is related to the following context.

‘I wish you didn’t have to go away,’ she blurts out and although she doesn’t cry, her face contorts into anger and sadness and she punches the wall of the bus shelter three times, hard. She feels strong with Katie. All the rest of it doesn’t matter when Katie’s here. When she’s with Katie she thinks she could go robbing from one of the empty houses like the men do and steal an iron bar or something and bash Tony and her ma and stupid Daniel in with it. Sometimes she sees it in her head. Her doing just that. Katie watching and laughing and clapping.

‘Me too, me too,’ Katie says and wraps her arms tight around her. ‘I hate not seeing you.’ She breaks away and rummages in her bag. ‘But it’s only two weeks. It feels like forever but it’s only fourteen days.’

‘One dole cheque,’ I say.

‘Exactly.’ Charlotte knows Katie doesn’t understand dole cheques any more than Charlotte understands music lessons, but she loves her for pretending.

From Cross Her Heart by Sarah Pinborough


‘But it’s only two weeks. It feels like forever but it’s only fourteen days.’

‘One dole cheque,’ I say.

Dole cheques are paid every fourteen days. Therefore ‘One dole cheque,’ re-emphasises fourteen days.

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  • I'm not sure the dole would ever have actually been paid by cheque - not least because many claimants wouldn't even have had a bank account. And I more than suspect payments in Britain were always made weekly, but searching Google Books for "fortnightly dole cheque" seems to show a strong bias towards Australian sources (despite the fact that OP's cited author Sarah Pinborough is British). – FumbleFingers Aug 14 at 11:00
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    @FumbleFingers - The following link gives an account of employment problems in Birmingham, particularly referring to two unemployed young men who receive a £100 dole cheque every two weeks to pay their rent, food and any other expenses they incur. ft.com/content/d83fe49a-f4cd-11e0-a286-00144feab49a – BeatsMe Aug 14 at 12:36
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    "Dole cheque" has been common in Britain for at least 40 years. Even that long ago almost everybody had a bank account, or an alternative such as post-office savings account that would accept a cheque. In my admittedly limited experience from that far back dole was paid by cheque and every two weeks. – DJClayworth Aug 14 at 13:51
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    Normally the negotiable instrument used to pay benefits in the UK is/was informally called a "Giro", short for Girocheque - one of the 1964 Wilson Labour government's innovations was the National Girobank which used Post Offices as branches. A Girocheque could be turned into cash at a named post office. In 1978 Girocheques were redesignated 'cheques' but the Giro name stuck. – Michael Harvey Aug 14 at 18:11

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