‘Work For Your Benefits’
The long-term unemployed are to be told they must do an unpaid full-time job or be stripped of their benefits.
A dramatic extension of the conditions attached to unemployment handouts will be unveiled at the Conservative party conference next week, according to well-placed sources.
Ministers are convinced a new US-style ‘work for the dole’ scheme will help to reduce Britain’s vast benefits bill and curb the something-for-nothing culture.
It is expected that claimants who go through the Government’s main back-to-work scheme, the Work Programme, but fail to find a job, will be required to take part in unpaid community activities or work experience.
Those who refuse to do so face losing their welfare payments.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith told the Daily Mail: ‘It’s not acceptable for people to expect to live a life on benefits if they’re able to work.’
A poll today finds overwhelming support for stricter conditions for the long-term unemployed.
The YouGov survey shows most voters believe jobseekers should carry out work experience or community work in order to receive their benefits.
By a margin of nearly five to one – 56 per cent to 12 per cent – they support the introduction of ‘workfare’ for the long-term unemployed compared to the status quo.
Two thirds of those questioned – 67 per cent – felt workless mothers with children under four should be excluded from doing community work in return for benefits.
But only one in four – 25 per cent – thought those with mental health conditions who are capable of work should be excluded from workfare, and only one in five – 22 per cent – thought those with physical disabilities who are capable of working should be exempt.
However, the centre-Right think tank Policy Exchange, which commissioned the survey of 1,930 people, warned that forcing those with physical and mental health problems to work would be counterproductive.
In a report published today, it says the Government should pilot workfare schemes for specific groups of jobseekers, including those who leave the Work Programme without finding a job after at least two years of support, either through lack of effort or experience.
THE CITY WHERE WORKERS ‘JUMP QUEUE FOR COUNCIL HOUSES’
Those who work will be allowed to jump the queue for a council house in one city.
Would-be tenants with a job of more than 12 hours a week and voluntary workers will get priority in Stoke-on-Trent, along with members of the forces and foster carers.
The city council wants to reward those who demonstrate a ‘community contribution’.
Council house tenants helped draw up the proposed rules.
It also suggests that the scheme should cover under-25s with little or no work experience and older jobseekers who have been out of work for at least six months.
The Government has already carried out pilot schemes which suggest significant numbers of jobless claimants would rather lose their handouts than get out of bed and do a stint of unpaid work.
Officials suspect many of those who stop claiming are working in the black economy and would rather lose their welfare than give up their undeclared earnings.
Mr Duncan Smith said: ‘The welfare state rightly provides a safety net for those out of work. But in return, jobseekers must do everything they can to get into work, that’s only fair.’
Ed Holmes, senior economics fellow at Policy Exchange, said: ‘Making people work in return for their benefits is clearly popular with the public but workfare is not suitable for everyone.
‘These findings underline that fact that the public feel it shouldn’t be the responsibility of government to prop people up and find them work.’
Figures yesterday showed an increasing number of long-term jobless have found employment under the Government’s flagship back-to-work scheme.
More than 168,000 have been helped into a lasting job through the Work Programme to the end of June.
The figure is an increase of 37,000 in the three months to June, said the Department for Work and Pensions.