George Osborne extends 'work for benefit' for jobless


George Osborne: ''No-one will get something for nothing''

The long-term unemployed will have to undertake work placements in return for their benefits, under tougher rules unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne.

Welfare must be "fair for those who need it and fair for those who pay for it", he told the Tory conference.

Mr Osborne also announced that he hoped to freeze fuel duty until 2015 to help people with the cost of living.

While the UK was on the right track, he warned people their family finances would not be "transformed overnight".

The chancellor insisted the government's economic plan was working but was "far from complete" and turned his fire on Labour - accusing them of "declaring war on enterprise".

In other developments at Conservative conference:

  • Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said he was "proud" of the planned HS2 rail link and urged critics to stop "moaning"
  • The UK Independence Party said it was open to local deals for its candidates to stand aside in seats with Eurosceptic MPs - but the Tories reject the idea
  • David Cameron announced the Help to Buy mortgage scheme would be launched next week, three months earlier than planned
  • Home Secretary Theresa May and Justice Secretary Chris Grayling address the conference later on Monday

In his speech Mr Osborne described Labour's policy to freeze energy prices for 20 months as "phoney" and compared Ed Miliband's political philosophy to that of Karl Marx.

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He has pledged that even when the nation's books have been balanced he will keep the lid on spending in order to put aside money for the next rainy day”

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He said he was optimistic about the future, saying the "sun had started to rise above the hill" but much more needed to be done to raise living standards for this generation and the next.

"There is no feeling at the conference of a task completed or a victory won," he said. "The battle for turning Britain round is not even close to being over."

He said he hoped to freeze fuel duty until the end of the current Parliament if savings could be found to pay for the move. Fuel duty has not risen since January 2011.

The RAC welcomed the announcement but called for a more fundamental overhaul of motoring taxation.

Mr Osborne also pledged to continue to keep control of spending even after the economic recovery was secured to avoid repeating the mistakes of "deluded" predecessors who believed they had abolished boom and bust.

Cleaning up litter

By running a budget surplus in the good times, he would "fix the roof while the sun was shining".


There is nothing new about making jobseekers work on pain of losing their benefits.

The government began what it called Mandatory Work Activity back in 2011.

Under the scheme, JobCentre advisers sent people on four-week placements on pain of losing their Jobseeker's allowance. It was down to private contractors to source the placements.

There is nothing new in the policy affecting many thousands of people.

Between May 2011 and February 2013, there were 146,810 referrals to Mandatory Work Activity placements.

Although government figures show there were only 53,720 occasions on which people actually started the placements.

Those who failed to begin may have got a job, decided not to claim the benefit or simply refused to take part.

And there is nothing new in putting some people on work placements once their time on the Work Programme has finished.

Plans to do that were announced in May. George Osborne is changing the system, though, by extending the placements from four weeks to six months.

Only about a third of the 200,000 Jobseekers Allowance claimants affected will be on the work placements.

The other two thirds will either have to attend a jobcentre every day or undergo programmes to address the reasons they cannot find work like illiteracy or mental health problems.

The new system will affect people completing the Work Programme without finding jobs from April 2014.

Labour said Mr Osborne could not be trusted to deliver a surplus, having had to backtrack on his earlier pledge to eliminate the structural deficit in 2015.

"By opposing the measures Labour announced last week to freeze energy prices and expand free childcare for working parents, the Tories have shown once again that they only ever stand up for a privileged few not for hard working families," shadow minister Rachel Reeves said.

On welfare, Mr Osborne said that while the government would not "abandon" the long-term unemployed, no-one would be able to get something for nothing.

Those who had not found work after two years on the existing Work Programme - where contractors are paid a fee to get people into a job - will face a new scheme called help-to-work.

To still qualify for jobseeker's allowance they will have three options - work placements, such as cleaning up litter; daily visits to a job centre; or taking part in compulsory training, for example, to improve their literacy.

People would have to remain on help-to-work until they found employment - unlike the current scheme which is limited to six months.

Those who breach the rules will lose four weeks' worth of benefits. Anyone who breaks the rules a second time faces losing three months' worth of benefits.

'Useful work'

Mr Osborne told the conference: "We are saying there is no option of doing nothing for your benefits, no something-for-nothing any more.

"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 support. No-one will be ignored or left without help. But no-one will get something for nothing."

A Department of Work and Pensions assessment of mandatory work activity - a similar compulsory work scheme introduced by ministers in 2011 - found it "had no impact on the likelihood of being employed". And on the work programme, DWP figures suggested one in 10 of those seen found a long-term job.

Unions said the help-to-work plan was an admission that existing schemes had failed.

And business groups said "warm words" on enterprise and wealth creation must be backed up by a "relentless focus" in the years ahead.

"Breaking government addiction to debt and achieving a surplus in public finances is the most important ambition any administration can have," the Institute of Directors said.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 473.

    How can litter-picking be the right way to go for job seekers? Firstly, schools and parents should teach children it is bad to drop it. Secondly it is already being done by criminals on community service and neighbourhood watch volunteers. Thirdly, it is not a training course, so those forced to do it should be paid at least the minimum wage. Mr Osborne is bent on creating a poor wage economy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 472.

    Attacking the poor and needy, ignoring energy cartels, tax evaders and reckless business - what a thoroughly nasty party the Tories are.

  • rate this

    Comment number 471.

    Osborne is talking sense as long as there is some common sense applied to single Mother situations. I wonder about Camerons leadership with the knee jerk reaction on Syria and some immature tweeting. The press seems to have gone very quiet over the Coulson affair. Perhaps the leadership battle is an 2014 thing....

  • rate this

    Comment number 470.

    Dealing with the long term unemployed should be more tailered to the individual and the local circumstances. If people need skills, help them get them. If in one region there is high unemployment, produce simple incentives for businesses to create work, such as low business rates. If a person clearly does not want to work, then fair enough that they pick litter or loose their benefits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 469.

    It should be after 1 yr. Germany only give benefits for that time. I see no problem with picking up litter, cleaning up dog mess, gardening at nursing homes etc. If they don't like doing it I am sure they will find something better. For the EX LibDem to say people who are on the dole are just "asperational" for better jobs is nonsense. After a yr benefits halved then stopped within 3 yrs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 468.

    Listening to Radio 5 last night on my way home, people saying there are no jobs in some parts of the country. I understand this and whilst many will hate me for saying this. Then move to somewhere where there is work. If so many migrants come to the UK leaving not only their familes behind but also their language, surely it is not unreasonable to expect someone to move within their own country?

  • rate this

    Comment number 467.

    I have done free work whilst unemployed with the hope of work at the end, did i get work NO, was there any chance of work NO, was it so I wasn't classed as unemployed YES!

    I bet you also people would not be able to continue with any volunteer work as both set of volunteer work combined is over 16hrs a week and therefore classed as having no time to jobsearch.

  • rate this

    Comment number 466.

    ..people should start working for their benefits after 6 months. This is no longer post WW2 Britain. There should be government run projects and factories producing hardware for national projects - think transport and energy infrastructure, that will employ people on minimum wage. I would guess this be less than the equivalent welfare bill...

  • rate this

    Comment number 465.

    whats worse than the scroungers getting away with it for decades,is the many people on here defending them.

    truely a nation in decline when those that choose to scrounge are heros.

    remember the incapacity benefit,of thsoe claiming it,33% failed the test and 33% decided not to take it.
    so for decades 66% of those claiming it were scamming the system, and peole on here worship them as heros

  • rate this

    Comment number 464.


    The difference between corvee and this is that the people on welfare receive money from the state. They are being asked to do something in return for that money. It's not unpaid. It's people like you that make me think most people shouldn't have the vote in 2015

  • rate this

    Comment number 463.

    So what about those unemployed who have paid into the system?
    A lot of the unemployed have paid a LOT of money in - to be able to take out when needed.
    So now you work to pay into a system to be able to get help when needed, then have to work again, for free, to be able to take out!
    The Tories WRONGLY perpetuate the myth that every unemployed person has NEVER contributed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 462.

    What happened to "bonfire of the quangos"....????

    The rich little Tory boys promised less bureaucracy yet every time they come up with any sort of idea (good or as is usually the case bad.....) they seem to end up employing more people to run it at tax payers' expense..... of a Government, devoid of decent ideas, utterly incompetent in the implementation.....

  • rate this

    Comment number 461.

    I'll beat up George Osbourne for a giro, or even better a job

    just putting it out there

  • rate this

    Comment number 460.

    When you have a Selfridges towel folder becoming chancellor you know this country has had its day.

  • rate this

    Comment number 459.

    Job vancancies versus unemployed gets touted a lot but these are not static numbers, new jobs are advertised and applicants found. One does not cancel out the other

    The fact that one is higher than the other means your unlikely to walk straight into another job, it may take a month or two but its no excuse not to find one at all which means you need help. Whether its training or just getting up

  • rate this

    Comment number 458.

    If they worked for more 11 hours at minmum wage they would be past there jsa of £71, so over 11 hours is slave labour as it will be unpaid, unworkable nonsense from Gideon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 457.

    I recently had to attend a compulsory 4 week work programme. This involved sitting in a room all day with nothing to do. I had previously spent two days a week doing voluntary admin work for a charity but was forced to give this up to attend the programme.

  • rate this

    Comment number 456.

    Chain gang the bone idle and those hiding behind dubious medical conditions (AHAD etc) Whip them into work. I only wish their sense of shame matched their sense of entitlement

  • rate this

    Comment number 455.

    The company I work for advertised for two cleaning jobs. We got only one applicant and she was Romanian.

  • rate this

    Comment number 454.

    I have no problem at all with this scheme. It is only right that people who are long term unwaged and being funded by taxpayers like me should do something for their dole. I am an OAP on a meagre pension and still have to pay tax to fund these people. There are several people who live near me who have never worked for years and are considerably better off than I am.


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