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.

Start Quote

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 1013.

    I'll work in a placement programme. Whether it be 10, 20, 30, 40 hours per week. The more the better. As for the type of work I don't care (I'll clean peoples poo if needed) as I just want to get back onto the swing of living again.

    Plus minimum wage should paid for every hour worked under a work programme.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1012.

    These poor long term unemployed, they'll finally have to DO SOMETHING in return for their sponging existance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1011.

    I have an idea.

    George Osbourne (and all cabinet ministers) should do 2 months "work experience" in a job centre (at least 20 miles from where they live), hell I wouldn't even mind if they claim expenses for that. (although they shouldn't as we can't)

    Then they could see those that want work from those that don't!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1010.

    TwinDad, if you divide the Jobseekers Allowance of £60/wk by the minimum wage that works out at 9 hours work a week.

    The most important thing to get jobs is get economy going whereas we have had cuts which have held the economy back by 3 yrs and massive tax cuts for the top1% while the other 99.5% have seen a fall in living standards. Stupid economics by a govt of trustafarian rich kids

  • rate this

    Comment number 1009.

    964. eConundrum
    So why should you get something for nothing, while they work hard to support you? Please explain.

    My uncle has been out of work for nearly 2 years. He genuinely can't find a job. Hes 63, no one wants him. Having paid in all his life, hes now having to face up to that fact. On top of this, he's also going to have to face the indignity of picking up litter for pittance.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1008.

    If there are real jobs to be done, then why not offer them to our long term unemployed and pay them a decent wage rather than expecting people to work for less than the minimum wage. Isn't that slave labour?
    Oh yes, and he's forgotten to mention the not insubstantial costs of training, administration, supervision etc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1007.

    Lets hope the spinless lib-dems do not scupper this

  • rate this

    Comment number 1006.

    918. KirstyKaye
    The Work program has nothing to offer if you are literate, can wash yourself and have marketable skills already."

    I'm sorry, but if you've been out of work for 2 years, then you can't really say that you have 'marketable skills'

  • rate this

    Comment number 1005.

    Yup as predicted the slave labour chants have appeared as per usual. I have noticed that a lot of people have a hatred for those that are successful in their lives. Just remember that those people you hate are the ones PAYING for your FREE benefits through their taxes!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1004.

    To make it fair, employed people should also do their fair share of litter picking

  • rate this

    Comment number 1003.

    Either the government is completely clueless over the way to tackle long-term and youth unemployment - The ''Flagship" Work Programme seems to be sinking fast and this new programme doesn't look very promising: or they have some creeping agenda they're not telling us about. Or both!

  • rate this

    Comment number 1002.

    @28,,it is unreasonable to ask people to work for £2 an hour,,its outrageous and unfair,,bet u have a job and vote torie,,y hit the unemployed when u should be hitting the banks? its making no difference to the economy to do this.the people of england voted in this bunch of criminals, hope u are happy

  • rate this

    Comment number 1001.

    A bit torn, as a tax payer i want to see something being done whilst searching for a job to benefit the community than just sitting around.

    At the same time this sort of "labour" will eventually take away from real jobs and i feel that this system could be heavily exploited as i have seen with low paid apprentices chucked after 6 months to avoid keeping them on full time with higher pay.

  • rate this

    Comment number 1000.

    This shower of misfit multimillionaire parttime politician clowns seem to be returning you to the Dickens era of workhouses & extreme poverty whilst the toffs at the other end of the scale are raking in billions Congrats Gideon you've made an enemy of William Wilberforce! Utopia UK it's got its head so far up its own backside with Etonian hooray henrys rife tax evasion & mass immigration. FARCICAL

  • rate this

    Comment number 999.

    2 Hours ago

    ssshhhh Common sense means nothing in todays morning for nothing culture

  • rate this

    Comment number 998.

    Once upon a time governments used to bring in policies to directly help people, now, they are content (and with the rabid knee jerkers allowing them to do it) to introduce policies that are aimed at directly punishing people for things that, for most, are not their fault at all.

    So the bloke who's paid £1000s in tax for 30 years now has to work for the benefit that he's worked 30 year for. Nice.

  • rate this

    Comment number 997.

    Unfit and unqualified for government - sack Osborne now

  • rate this

    Comment number 996.

    Two years long term unemployed - counting from when?

  • rate this

    Comment number 995.

    There does seem to be quite a few problems with this, that I can see...

    1) Where are all these 'job placements' going to come from?
    2) Surely if it's for private companies, they can afford to pay them too...?
    3) What about those with kids/those who'd be worse off working than otherwise?
    4) Relevance to career seems lacking, voluntary work has some, job placements don't.

  • rate this

    Comment number 994.

    Jack Napier #979
    Couldn't agree more


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