Jobseekers' Allowance: Everything we know about new 'boot camp'

17/08/15

Picture outside job centre

If you're 18 to 21 and want to claim Jobseekers' Allowance, you'll have to do a series of courses to get benefits.

The government is calling it a "boot camp".

It is unlikely though that this 71-hour programme at your local job centre will involve crawling through tyres or polishing boots.

Instead young people who want to claim JSA will have to attend classes to be given tips for interview techniques and help searching for vacancies.

These courses will be compulsory and if you want to claim £57.90 a week - the maximum 18-24 year-olds searching for work are entitled to - you'll need to complete these courses in the first three weeks of unemployment.

It's being called the Intensive Activity Programme (IAP) and was tried out in job centres in North East Yorkshire, Humber and West Yorkshire in March.

Matt Hancock
Image caption Matt Hancock MP: The boot camp will be 'tough but fair'

Politician Matt Hancock, who heads a government team called "Earn or Learn" which is rolling out these measures to end youth unemployment, told Newsbeat it will be "tough but fair".

This new programme, which will be classroom-based, will condense all the training into one block at the beginning of unemployment instead of having a more "piecemeal" approach, he says.

Although acknowledging that 71 hours was a long time, he added: "If you are young and unemployed what else should you be doing with your time?

"You should be spending your time trying to get a job. The only alternative to that is living on the state."

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What we know

  • 71 hour programme over three weeks
  • Called the Intensive Activity Programme (IAP), it's part of measures being rolled out by an Earn or Learn taskforce
  • If you don't take part you'll lose your benefits: up to £57.90 a week
  • Will be mainly classroom based
  • Will help you with interview techniques and writing CVs as well as helping you search for jobs
  • Comes into force everywhere in April 2017, but is already being trialled in parts of Yorkshire and Humber
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Mr Hancock told the BBC: "We are penalising nobody because nobody who does the right thing and plays by the rules will lose their benefits.

"This is about giving young people more support.

"It's about having a dedicated work coach that can give one-on-one support to young people so that they can get a job or apprenticeship.

"After six months they are required to get a job or an apprenticeship or go into a work programme."

The plans are being criticised by the University and College Union as well as the Green Party and Labour.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, describes the plans as another "attack on young people" and says they "fundamentally fail to deal with the reasons that so many of them are unable to find work or are not in education and training. " She also says they are just a "short-term gimmick".

Meanwhile Stephen Timms MP, Labour's Acting Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary says the government needed to make sure that there were jobs or apprenticeships at the end of the "bootcamp".

Young people aged 16-24 are nearly three times more likely to be unemployed than the rest of the population.

Amelia Womack, the Deputy leader of the Green Party says: "The measures announced today are a damaging short-termist attempt to bring down unemployment figures by forcing young people into some kind of work or work programme as quickly as possible, rather than recognising the diversity of career paths and the importance of ensuring that young people choose one that is right for them. "

The idea of having to complete training to get unemployment benefits is nothing new. You can already lose your benefits for a period of time if you turn down a job or training course or take part in any employment schemes.

The Conservatives have also promised to scrap Jobseekers' Allowance for 18 to 21-year-olds and replace it with a "youth allowance", requiring young people to do some form of community work if they are out of a job for more than six months.

These changes to youth benefits will come into force in April 2017.

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