Long-term unemployed to work six months for free
A new Government work scheme could mean almost 1 million long-term unemployed people being forced to work unpaid for six months to keep their benefits, a think tank has warned – though ministers have said that figure is “pure guesswork”.
A pilot of the DWP’s Community Action Programme (Cap) has now finished and its national roll-out is expected to be announced this autumn. People on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) for longer than three years would have to work for six months unpaid, or risk losing their benefits.
The Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion (CESI) estimates that over five years, starting in June 2013, around 1.78 million people will be unable to find work through the Work Programme. Of these, 1.35 million will be claiming JSA.
In total the think tank predicts that between 2013 and 2018, 972,000 people who have been completely out of work for more than three years will stay on JSA and so could be sent to work unpaid for 26 weeks.
Dave Simmonds, CESI chief executive, said: “These numbers speak volumes about the nature of long-term unemployment in a recession, where those with the greatest barriers are often pushed to the back of the jobs queue.
“Jobcentre Plus and the Work Programme will have already tried to find jobs for these people – with sanctions hanging over them all the way through. We have to be careful about a one-size-fits-all solution for the very long-term unemployed by requiring them to work for their benefits.
“It could prove to be a very expensive failure if it doesn’t get people into jobs – and past evidence on this is mixed.”
Responding to the CESI forecast, employment minister Chris Grayling told the Guardian: “We believe that full time community work should be a part of the support we provide to the very long term unemployed. But we are at an early stage of trialling different options, and so these estimates are pure guesswork.”
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