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 1415.

    This is just a back door method of introducing slave-labour.

    If people have to work for their benefits then they should be paid the National Minimum Wage, not the pittance they get on benefits.

    People are unemployed at the moment as there are no jobs for them, but suddenly, all this work will "appear" from nowhere when people are going to be paid a pittance of what they should be paid?


  • rate this

    Comment number 1170.

    Finally! Why should someone get money for doing nothing when the rest of us work hard to struggle to get by week to week.

  • 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 823.

    I'm on JSA at the moment looking for work, and have to agree that being expected to work 30 hours a week, plus looking for actual employment, is a ridiculous notion. Especially if that 30 hours is still only paying me the minimum JSA I recieve, which is less than 1/3 of the minimum wage for those hours. It's just another attempt at forcing cheap labour out of the desperate.


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