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Do ‘useful work’, or lose benefits – Osborne

Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants will face stricter conditions from next April – or risk losing their benefits. Chancellor George Osborne is set to announce the plans at the Conservative Party Conference today in Manchester.

The new help-to-work scheme will ensure that “no-one will get something for nothing”, he will say.

People who have been unemployed and claiming JSA for three years, and who have been on the existing two-year work programme, will be moved onto one of three options. 200,000 claimants could be affected.

The new scheme will see people either taking work placements – 30 hours a week for six months of community work plus ten hours of job search activity, undergoing daily visits to the job centre to search for work, or a mandatory intensive regime for those with underlying problems including mental health issues, drug addiction and illiteracy.

People will remain on the scheme until they find employment and breaching the rules could lose four weeks worth of benefits. A second breach may lose three months’ worth.

Osborne will say: “For the first time, all long-term unemployed people who are capable of work will be required to do something in return for their benefits to help them find work. They will do useful work to put something back into their community; making meals for the elderly, clearing up litter, working for a local charity.

“Others will be made to attend the job centre every working day. And for those with underlying problems, like drug addiction and illiteracy, there will be an intensive regime of help. No-one will be ignored or left without help. But no-one will get something for nothing.”

But shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves, said: “It’s taken three wasted years of rising long-term unemployment and a failed work programme to come up with this new scheme.”

And Joseph Rowntree Foundation chief executive Julia Unwin told The Independent: “We don't know enough about the long-term impact of conditionality and sanctions in the welfare system. 

“There is a risk, though, that those threatened with destitution will make poor decisions in terms of the jobs they take. Stricter conditions may even lead to some people dropping out of the system entirely.”

Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice, warned that caring responsibilities or transport costs could make daily jobcentre or community work visits “very difficult”.

“It's vital that the Government provides proper support for those who face extra barriers to work, such as mental illness or mobility problems, and understands that these conditions will sometimes make participation in this scheme impossible.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at [email protected]  

Image c. HelenCobain


Bernard   30/09/2013 at 12:49

This is too little, too late. No one who is fit to work should ever have been allowed to languish on benefits in excess of about 3 months without having to undertake some work for the community. No immigrants should be on benefits; why are they here if they have no job ? We need to sort out the nonsense which allows people to travel across Euroupe to sign up for our soft benefits. Even more criminal or pregnant Rumanians will be coming after Christmas !!

Lou Scales   30/09/2013 at 14:18

Generally a good idea but we have to bear in mind that some parts of the country do not have work available. What matters most is we enable those who want to work, which is the majority, are given useful work to do of which there is quite a lot in the public sector. Public sector organisations will need additional resources to ensure this is properly supervised. It will maybe also be necessary to help people to get to work. Bus fares will exhaust job seekers allowance in some areas getting to work for 30 hours each week leaving them little to live on. Those who aren't keen need understand the public won't support shirkers.

Mark W   30/09/2013 at 15:23

Great idea! Its about time people who claim benefits give something back to the tax payer (who pay their "wages"). What worrys me is the Government won't be tough enough with the penalties... "People will remain on the scheme until they find employment and breaching the rules COULD lose four weeks worth of benefits. A second breach MAY lose three months’ worth." May? Could? Should be WILL!

Jim   30/09/2013 at 15:36

Here's a radical idea. If there is work that needs to be done, whya don't the government pay an appropriate rate for it and call it a job

Jean Averibou   30/09/2013 at 21:13

To be fair to those who will be affected, why not respect the unemployed as fellow citizens who need equal treatment by paying them a living wage, that will encourage and motivate them to stay on the 30 hrs. per week jobs. Most of them will give quality skills and job performance as those who are actually employed. It will be fair to treat them equally if we are to encourage rather than humiliate and discriminate against the present unemployed. Anyone can become unemployed at anytime, at any place and under any circumstances. What goes around comes around! If the Government has work, then they should respect the unemployed and pay them and encouraging wage for their work. In the first place unemployment is a result of poor governances and poor distribution of our collective resources.

Hannah   01/10/2013 at 13:59

It's about time the government are taking action against people that wrongly claim benefits because they cannot be bothered to work. I'm sick of paying high tax etc for these people to sit on their behinds and literally laugh at the working class people for paying their benefits. Our tax money is better spent elsewhere! I agree though with the other comments that people who are to work 30 hours community service should actually be paid for their work and not just the standard 'benefits' pay as surely this will give them more incentive to do the job and do it well. I do not understand though what is to be acheived by people having to attend the job centre daily....this is surely just going to add further strain on the already busy job centre?! Britain is too weak on crime and benefits and housing compared to other countries.

Barrie   02/10/2013 at 11:44

This is the best thing since sliced bread. Why should we pay people to sit at home if they are fit to when they are fit to work. I now hope that the government cuts aid to the country's that to the country's that don't need it.

Karen   02/10/2013 at 21:01

whilst the proposed steps by the government to force long term unemployed into doing meaningful work or face sanctions appears to be a move in the right direction it is not the answer, as it will create more serious problems for society. most long term unemployed come from families where not working is a way of life, and benefits are used to subsidise drugs and alcohol and petty crime subsidises the remainder. what should be done is to find a way to change the fabric of the society that we live in. cutting benefits will lead to more crime more shoplifting etc, thus putting up the already extortionate prices in our shops making it more difficult for the less fortunate to survive. so before the government make proposals that could raise the crime levels out of control they should be considering ways of changing the drink and drugs culture of the young, then wanting to work and be decent citizens will follow.

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