Force claimants to work for benefits, government urged

A person passing a Job Centre Plus Benefits claimants should show real commitment to finding a job, TPA boss Matthew Sinclair said

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A US-style "work for the dole" scheme could save £3.5bn a year in welfare costs, a campaign group has said.

The Taxpayers' Alliance (TPA) said only the "extreme sanction" of stopping claimants who refused to do 30 hours' activity a week from receiving benefits would force them to find work.

In the absence of such a reform, the government's flagship universal credit would have "limited effect", it added.

But opponents of the idea have labelled it "unrealistic" and "demeaning".

The TPA, which campaigns for lower taxes, said individuals claiming the new universal credit should have their payments automatically suspended if they declined to take part in prescribed activities.

Already a failure

For most claimants, that would mean 30 hours a week of community service, charity work, approved training, work experience or "meaningful" job hunting with officials.

Parents of those under four-year-olds, those caring for someone with a severe disability, and pensioners would be exempt.

Those claiming incapacity benefit or employment support allowance would be expected to take part in "activity that they are physically able to do".

TPA chief executive Matthew Sinclair said: "The government is improving the incentive to work, but they need to go further and remove the option of sitting at home and claiming benefits entirely.

"Taxpayers rightly expect something back for the enormous amount they pay for out-of-work benefits, at the very least a real commitment to find a job as soon as possible."

Former Labour welfare minister Frank Field - who proposed a similar idea in 2009 - urged his party to "seriously look again" at the idea.

"The next Labour government must ensure that claimants are not simply left drawing benefit rather than having an offer of work," he said.

But one group which campaigns against forcing those looking for a job to work for free said the idea had been tried and had not worked.

"These schemes are already in place and that's why we can say they're already a failure," Joanna Long from Boycott Workfare told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"Study after study comes out from the DWP (Department of Work and Pensions) showing that these schemes have zero effect on helping people find work."


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  • rate this

    Comment number 859.

    The problem with this is giving those really trying the time to search for jobs. I graduated at the end of June this year and have been searching for employment ever since. 306 jobs applied for, 5 interviews (across country) and it has actually paid off, just got confirmation yesterday!

  • rate this

    Comment number 858.

    If the unemployed do work say for charities then they need to employ fewer people which leads to more unemployment which also means that employers can get away with paying less. Another example of right wing organisations blindly following everything American. The US uses Mexicans as cheap labour the right wing here want to use the unemployed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 857.

    Oh well, can't have a war then back to poor bashing.

    Isn't it time Ozzie gave the rich another tax break, its' tough at the top.

  • rate this

    Comment number 856.

    There needs to be focus on what is right to get the individual back into work.
    If someone with good skills has just lost their job and spending their time applying for others then this is sensible.
    If someone is doing courses to get work related skills, then this makes sense.
    If the person is doing nothing, been unemployed for a long time and doesn't want to work then this idea makes sense.

  • rate this

    Comment number 855.

    Why is this showing in the Editors ' Picks yet the moderators have removed it ? ? ?

    60.Graham A
    2 Hours ago
    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

    Yes, please explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 854.

    If you're going to force people to work then surely they should be being paid minimum wage, otherwise you're breaking the law. That would be 3 times your basic jobseekers allowance, so there goes any savings.

  • rate this

    Comment number 853.

    The majority of people on benefits don't want to work why would they , council tax paid, rent paid, free school meals, uniforms for kids, I've known some to buy a house on benefits, people just continue to have children to avoid going to work.
    I would love the choice and say where my tax goes cos it wouldn't be going to the job dodgers.

    This country is a joke

  • rate this

    Comment number 852.

    552. Andi2011

    You would only need to spend a few hours after a few weeks of this to get a full time job because you'd have demonstrable experience and willingness to work.

    It's not wine tasting, you can't tailor a job to suit your needs. I can see what you are trying to say but do you know what real slave labour is? Paying just under a fifth of my wage to people who have the wrong attitude.

  • rate this

    Comment number 851.

    If the jobs were there, paying a living wage, then I would wholeheartedly agree. Minimum wage is a joke, I did it, due to travel costs I was working for £4 per hour. Is that fair? I think not. Frankly one would be better off in prison. Why aren't prisoners forced to work? After all the tax payer is supporting them as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 850.

    Will this will be like the prisoners, working for a private company at below minimum wage, will they end up making more local Gov. workers redundant (and therefore re-employed below min wage) or will they make up for staff shortages in the border agency and other Gov. services. Either way they will be given non jobs or they will be used as underpaid labour by a Tory Gov and their backers

  • rate this

    Comment number 849.

    ....I am not talking about those simply on the £70 per week job seekers, I am talking about the people on £400+ a week, for whom welfare is a 'rational' decision because it pays more than work...."

    The people on jobseekers are the ones this is aimed at.

    The lions share of the benefit bill supplements low income workers.

    A total rethink of the entire system is required.

  • rate this

    Comment number 848.

    Ah yes the TPA such a bunch socially aware people?

    Just were are the jobs supposed to come from?

    JOBS yes you know the things that these people are going to pressed ganged into, to work - where are the JOBS.

    There must be a reality disconnect in TPA’s members minds.

    If there are not enough jobs to go around then there will be unemployed people unless of course you’re considering - slavery?

  • rate this

    Comment number 847.

    How many more times are we going to be subjected to this tired old ideas of demonizing the unemployed. I would imagine that if the jobs were out there the vast majority of those signing on would jump at the chance.

    Turning them into slaves is not the answer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 846.

    Great idea if correctly applied. We could save millions on community maintenance. Grass verges being cut, lamposts being painted, rubbish being picked. This will lead to a greater respect of the community and environment people live in, something if you go through suburban areas is usually a massive problem

  • rate this

    Comment number 845.

    Has anyone in the TPA actually found themselves unable to work for whatever reason?

    I am lucky in that I am self employed at the moment, but if I lost this work, I would be back to claiming ESA as with my ME I am physically unable to do the majority of work. I wouldn't be able to do 30 hours a week , with anything. Clueless is what these people are! Shame on them

  • rate this

    Comment number 844.

    While I agree something should be done to stop the 'lay-about' culture, forcing people to work 30 hours a week for effectively less than minimum wage is not the answer... If these jobs are available, then why not actually employ the people out of work?? Radical thinking I know...

  • rate this

    Comment number 843.

    @726 - you say "there are a lot of people who (and who can blame them?) stay on benefits because they would only recieve (spelling?) the same amount of money or less, for working."
    The answer to this isn't forcing people on benefits to work, it's ensuring the benefits and credits system is skewed so that people do not lose those benefits by taking up paid work. Paid work = more tax, govt. wins?

  • rate this

    Comment number 842.

    The sheer greed of this pressure group astounds me. Just another scheme for cheap labour similar to what is now happening in some private prisons. The amount of money spent on unemployment pales into insignificance when compared to tax avoidance and evasion. I see Wonga announced record profits yesterday.

  • rate this

    Comment number 841.

    Forced philanthropy from the billionaires/millionaires should do the trick. Leave the poor alone for goodness sake you big bully.

  • rate this

    Comment number 840.

    Generally people don't pay a person without receiving something in return (goods / services), yet oddly seem happy for the state to do just.

    Clearly there will be justified exceptions, but what is wrong with asking a claimant to attend a "job warehouse" for a few hours each day so that they can either look for work or be available to help with community projects?


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