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Should long-term benefit claimants do community work?

01:12 UK time, Sunday, 7 November 2010

Unemployed benefit claimants could find themselves litter-picking or gardening if government proposals go ahead. Is compulsory community work a good idea?

The Work Activity scheme is said to be designed to flush out claimants who have opted for a life on benefits, or those who are doing undeclared jobs on the side.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, who will outline plans for four-week placements, said: "One thing we can do is pull people in to do one or two weeks' manual work - turn up at 9am and leave at 5pm, to give people a sense of work, but also when we think they're doing other work."

Do you agree with this idea? Will the scheme help reduce welfare dependency? What tasks should be included? Would this improve your community?

Thank you for your comments. This debate has now closed.


Page 1 of 23

  • Comment number 1.

    Of all the announcements made by this government 2 things stand out:

    1/ the 155 billion deficit was apparently the fault, not of the international banking crisis, but the unemployed, disabled and sick

    2/ The solution to unemployment does not in any way include having policies to actually create or support jobs which is why loans to steel works and tax breaks to Computer Games companies are turned down and Sure Start centres that provide affordable child care allowing mothers to work are to be closed.

  • Comment number 2.

    If there is a job there to be done, pay someone to do it. Don't treat valuable work as a form of punishment. If the job needs doing, pay someone to do it so they can earn a living and hold their head high. When manual work is treated as some kind of a punishment for the sin of being unemployed, it demeans all manual work, shows that government has a poor opinion of workers, and belittles those "forced" to work who have in all likelihood been forced into the depressing state of long-term unemployment.

  • Comment number 3.

    Yeah those in half decent jobs want competition from 4 million people don't they.

  • Comment number 4.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 5.

    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]I think it's a fantastic idea.

    When Ian Duncan Smith's wife was idle, he got her to work for him at the taxpayer's expense. Newsnight described his expense claims regarding his wife as 'dubious'. We also wonder whether Mr Duncan Smith would recommend job seekers to claim they had a degree when they didn't as he did when claimed that he had attended the University of Perugia when he had in fact attended the Università per Stranieri, which did not grant any degrees at that time, and a claim that he had attended the prestigious-sounding Dunchurch College of Management turned out to refer to some weekend courses at GEC Marconi's staff college.

    All from his Wikipedia page and properly sourced

  • Comment number 6.

    Cost of direct bank bailouts: £850bn
    DWP estimated benefit fraud per year: £1bn

    What about the benefit lifestyle the banksters are enjoying?

  • Comment number 7.

    What is the definition of 'long term'?

  • Comment number 8.

    i think a 30 hour week is abit much for 50 pound a week however 16-20 seems fair if you take up all there time workin they will take longer to find a job. the hours worked will have to scale baised on ammount of benefits given.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hmmm, So my friends who have been trying hard for the last 4 months to find work but can not in this economy and are qualified experienced Architects, software engineers as well as the debt laden new graduates who can't get a look in; will have picking up litter to look forward to.

    The privileged treating the unlucky like idiots and assuming if one is out of work for a long time they don't want to work and would rather sit at home. If only some of these MPs could walk in the shoes of real people they would understand how condescending they sound at times.

  • Comment number 10.

    Erm, why don't they just pay them the minimum wage to do that work? Or is this just a ploy to get cheap labour?

  • Comment number 11.

    What's the point. There are not enough jobs to go round. How many times does this need to be explained to people. If they don't like paying for people on the dole, then buy UK made goods and create jobs - no one else can do it, not government, not employers, not political dogma, not the magic job fairy. It's down to YOU, not 'them'.

  • Comment number 12.

    What kind of compulsory community work is being considered?
    cos I can see it being street cleaning and litter picking
    so the paid council staff who should be doing those jobs turn up for work only to be told they aren't needed anymore, the 'unemployed' are being forced to do the work instead. Next thing they're down the jobcenter looking for work - with a fair chance that they could be back doing the same job they just lost, but for benefits instead of wages.

  • Comment number 13.

    Absolutely. It's disgraceful the way the towns and cities (and roadsides) are being turned into rubbish dumps. They should have to work for their benefit, it's akin to having a job. Who knows - perhaps some of them might even be tempted to look for a proper job

  • Comment number 14.

    i think its a good idea, its about time something was done to help the long term jobless back in to work, people will moan but i think in the long term it will be a good thing.

  • Comment number 15.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 16.

    This will do nothing to affect the behaviours of women who will have a brood of her children to set her up for a house and benefits for life.

  • Comment number 17.

    "Unemployed benefit claimants could find themselves litter-picking or gardening if government proposals go ahead. Is compulsory community work a good idea?"

    ...thus putting the people who are litter-picking and gardening at the moment out of work and onto benefits. If people are to be made to do work they should be paid at an actual real wage for doing it and not be used as cheep slave labour.

  • Comment number 18.

    The scheme as reported might have a limited impact if it is well designed and offers effective support alongside a requirement to participate in compulsory elements. However, I don't see the scheme making much difference as the real problem is a lack of jobs - until there are several million new jobs we will have high levels of unemployment.

    The only options to reduce unemployment and welfare dependency at the moment will require far more radical thinking than we are currently getting from this government. Possible options include:

    - moving many workers to a four day week and thereby creating many new (four day a week) jobs;

    - allowing benefit claimants to keep more of any money they earn from part time work. If claimants were allowed to keep £50 a week this would mean that they could work for one day a week at the minimum wage.

    Both these options would have very little, if any, cost to government as they are not job creation but are simply a redistribution of the available work.

  • Comment number 19.

    damn right, all those lazy folk, esp. the ones u see on tv that dont work cause they've some depressing story about why they cant, are the ones in particular that should come under this story.

    get them to work and make them do more than just 4 weeks for crying out loud.

  • Comment number 20.

    This seems similar to the "work experience" we undertook whilst nearing the end of our schooling. Looking back I do not think this was in any way exploitative as I truly believe that we benefited from the experience.

  • Comment number 21.

    It may make sense but I think it will be unworkable in practice. I don't see what it would achieve either.

    What genuine claimants really need is re-training at a local college for a range current vacancies, which should be totally free.
    If they don't agree without good reason their benefit should be stopped.
    Sorry but it's the only practical answer.

  • Comment number 22.

    If this is real work needing doing I can't understand why it is not proper jobs being offered.

    Duh! 30 hours work for £65 is £2.17/hour and considerably less than the minimum wage. I can see how a Tory would love this idea.

    Is the government going to guarantee that the people who are currently employed to pick up litter are not going to be made unemployed in pursuit of this? Nah, thought not!

    When someone is unemployed and has been unemployed for some time the boredom, humiliation, and lack of identity compels them to lie in bed until midday or later so that there is less of the day to bear. People don't do this because they don't want to work; they do it because their existence is torture.

    Such people will struggle to find work and some will have lost the will to even search for it. Something does need to be done here. Sure, there are not really any jobs for them anyway but the routine/structure is valuable and essential for the restoration of self esteem which unemployment robs people of.

    This is not the solution though.

    It seems to me that to require the people targeted by this scheme to attend somewhere at 9am, say, to do work is reasonable. Entirely reasonable.

    However, it does not seem reasonable to require them to do it for 37% of the national minimum wage. We should not be requiring people to work for more than 11 hours per week for £65 otherwise it is nothing but a source of cheap labour. Tory devalues all domestic labour and relishes it.

    "Flush out". Huh. The government can't even quantify it. They don't know. It's whims and speculations.

    Perhaps we are now to view anyone picking up litter not as someone who is in a viable job but instead as someone who is having their cage rattled. Law of unintended consequences, maybe. It is the people currently employed in a proper job to pick up litter that I am feeling for - there is a risk that their job will become devalued by this.

    This smacks very much of another Tory divide and conquer tactic.

  • Comment number 23.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 24.

    In a nutshell, if an unemployed person cannot do this, or is regarded by the government as refusing to do it, then they will get their benefits cut for 3 months. So essentially the government is saying "do as we say, or die".

    Regardless of any theoretical merits of this scheme, that are as yet unproven, it is the opening sonnet of fascism, worded to sing to an increasingly primitive and nationalistic audience, who are tone deaf from the tabloids anyway!

  • Comment number 25.

    I think this is a fantastic idea and applaud the government for proposing this in a white paper. It would definitely benefit those who have not worked for some time to 'get back into a routine' and as an employer I would rather employ a person who had some work experience recently. Obviously they still need to go to interviews but I'm sure it will take account of that.

    Why should someone be paid £65 pw for attending the odd interview and then sitting on their backsides ? Although I do have a job and am totally self sufficient financially it's my taxes that go towards the paying out of this benefit and I think that if you are an able bodied citizen you should contribute to your local community.
    With regard to what type of work there are so many charity organisations that are crying out for help plus general gardening / maintenance works that benefit your local area.
    Plus this would help prevent people illegally working and not declaring it but claiming benefit anyway.

    All in all an excellent idea and look forward to seeing how many people think it is too harsh !

  • Comment number 26.

    I'd say forcing people to work is the sort of things that should only be reserved for prisoners.

  • Comment number 27.

    I agree totally with the proposal, which I believe was (maybe still is?) used in Sweden. I would also extend it from unemployment benefit recipients to include an assessment of claimants of long term disability benefit. Some people are obviously unable to work and there should be no objection to them receiving benefits. However, when I lived in London a man a few houses away was supposedly unable to work because of a physical disability, but managed to build a new garden wall at the front of his house and carry out other home improvements. Such spongers definitely need to be weeded out...

  • Comment number 28.

    In principle, I'm in favour... I can see this working quite well in towns and cities but not necessarily in the countryside to the benefit of many communities.

    That said where I live, without a car, it is nigh impossible to get anywhere for 9a.m. let alone the nearest 'large' (all things are relative) town, where there would likely be sufficient work to keep a 'volunteer' active from 9-5 (or are we expecting such volunteers to go from village to villate?)

    Considering only the financial matters, I am not convinced any potential savings from catching the odd benefit cheat would mitigate the extra funding required for providing childcare & transportation (surely IDS does not expect these additional costs to be met from the sum the 'law says the claimant requires to live on').

    Further, in some circumstances, I can see such a scheme falling foul of the CRB system both financially and as a result of delays inherent in running checks. IF a placement falls under the auspices of tbe scheme the 'volunteer' could be prevented from taking part temporarily or permanently.

    While CRB checks are free for volunteers, a person is only deemed a volunteer if they are acting for no personal benefit (exluding transportation costs) for the wider good. IF a 'volunteer' is volunteering in order to continue receiving benefits would this count as directly attributable personal gain resulting in fees being due in any case where a CRB is required?

  • Comment number 29.

    No, forcing people into community work will only mean that they will have less time to concentrate on doing what they're supposed to do, and that is to look for work. If someone is busy looking for work they don't need to do this. It may not be their fault that the can't actually find work, and there (at least) were schemes to help people who needed help with looking for work.

    I have a moral objection in that if you expect people to work for 30 hours a week, you also need to pay them a decent wage to do so, in other words at least the national minimum wage. If they don't, people claiming benefits are clearly being exploited, and that is not something a government should do. This would be scandalous if 'community projects' are being run by the private sector.

  • Comment number 30.

    A lot of people will find this idea unfair, but I think this is a good idea.

    It isn't fair on tax payers to pay the benefits of someone who can, but won't work indefinately. Another, more extreme idea would be to remove benefits after 6 months. This would probably be going too far, so the idea of forcing longterm unemployed to complete work placements in order to retain their benefits is a fairer solution.

    There are always job vacancies, but there are some jobs that people don't want to do. There are also some people who don't want to do any.

  • Comment number 31.

    This is obviously a good idea. it only applies to long term unemployed. They are already getting paid by us, the taxpayers, so why shouldn't they do some useful work around the place for the benefit of the taxpayers? It stops them doing other (illegal) paid work, stops them using the system to do no work at all. I know that not everyone is out of work because they choose to be but many are. Those that want to work won't mind this and those that don't, will! About time!

  • Comment number 32.

    lagers wrote:

    What is the definition of 'long term'?

    In DWP terms it generally means anyone who has been unemployed and claiming Jobseekers' Allowance for six months or more. These days it may also mean anyone claiming Employment and Support Allowance for this period.

  • Comment number 33.

    I'm sorry but I think this is totally and utterly outrageous and disgusting. These people who have been unemployed for so long are not there to be your slaves. In my opinion that is the type of thing that should only be reserved for criminals, the true lowlifes of society. My partner has to attend a pathetic training group designed to get help him get into work, they do nothing for him. He sits there all day, going trawling through the same websites, the same newspapers and they leave him to it. No going through interview skills or helping him fill in application forms. My partner is a fully qualified carpenter, he can't even get work in that line. Not only that but in my area unless your a nurse or have office administration skills there is simply no work. What jobs he has applied for there is at least 500 other people going for the same position. We didn't ask to lose our jobs and yet we are being punished for something that is not of our doing and by god we are doing our best. Its not punishment these people need, its real help. Help in the form of being able to do NVQ's so they have at least a chance to reskill in another area. If only my partner could retrain to do office work, then I truly believe we would stand more of a chance. But as it is, if your above 25 then NVQ's are no longer free. I truly am appalled and agree with other comments about this being akin to WW2 behaviour. Shame on you for punishing us and shame on you for not helping us.

  • Comment number 34.

    Not only that but if you can create these so called jobs for so called community service, then you can ruddy well create these jobs for a wage and an employment contract, with paid holidays as with everybody elses jobs. I cannot wait to get this government out, you have ruined our lives, you are ruining our kids lives. For gods sake help us please, not punish us!!!

  • Comment number 35.

    6. At 01:46am on 07 Nov 2010, bujin wrote:

    Cost of direct bank bailouts: £850bn
    DWP estimated benefit fraud per year: £1bn

    What about the benefit lifestyle the banksters are enjoying?
    Why not put the bankers to work?

    Irony aside i like this proposal bankers run the country even if we do have to keep them in job least they have a job and pay tax.Make the lazy claiments work if they are willing it will look good on their cv and lead to pernmanant employment if they lucky...

  • Comment number 36.

    Wow and there was me thinking forced labour was punishment for criminals - or perhaps this Government sees the unemployed and sick as criminals?

    Things are so unjust right now and things are set to get worse - I can only imagine they are trying to force a riot so they can fully bring in the police state the establishment has been so busy building the last decade.

    I would give someone in need my last pound but I wouldn't blow on a politician if they were on fire, the lowest of the low.

  • Comment number 37.

    This is already happening in the NE. My friend who is a highly skilled CAD operator was put on one of these schemes working for his JSA which is £65 per week.A4E sent him to Tesco's to work for a month training as a cleaner. ASDA and Morrisons are also supposed to be in on the act. No job at the end. I can see how Tesco's can publish profits of 1.6 billion pounds in the first six months of the year. This is unadulterated EXPLOITATION OF THE UNEMPLOYED!

  • Comment number 38.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 39.

    37. At 03:11am on 07 Nov 2010, Lazarus wrote:

    "This is already happening in the NE. My friend who is a highly skilled CAD operator was put on one of these schemes working for his JSA which is £65 per week.A4E sent him to Tesco's to work for a month training as a cleaner."

    Thats because A4E gets paid £2k for every person they find a job for, irrespective of how long it is. So even if said work is only for a month, A4E gets paid £2k.

  • Comment number 40.

    This is slavery in a different rapper.
    Yes, there are those out there, that don't work just cause they can get away with it. There are those out there, like me, that are unable to find work . My last job was 16 hours contract, traveling 1.3 hours each way, to work a 3 hour shift. Spending most of my wages on the bus fair. As this was a temp contract, they kept me on until they no longer needed me. Back on job Seaker, believe me it is no fun to no have a job. I have so many friends with Uni Degrees that also cannot find work any were near them. It is a joke.

  • Comment number 41.

    Mandatory Work Experience is already here now and part of the Flexible New Deal set in place by Labour, so I'm not sure why this is announced.

    It requires some unemployed to do 4 weeks work experience. In my area some are sent to work at a Poundland store for 4 weeks without pay or they lose benefits.

    As they will be classed as "not employed" they will have no employment protection as a paid worker would have (discrimination maybe) and are not covered by Employers Liability Insurance. As they are not classed as a member of the public, Public Liability Insurance will not cover them either.

    So, who do they claim from if they have an accident?

    But really, work experience at Poundland?

  • Comment number 42.

    As an ex Jobcentre employee (15 years), I worked with those out of work for considerable periods of time. I suggest that 90-95% of those were "actively seeking work" but many did not have the qualifications and work experience to fill current vacancies. Many of the programmes provided did not give the qualifications needed to return many of these folk to the job market.

    If unemployed, I would be very happy to work for one of the many voluntary organisations rather than be left at home loosing my self esteem and hopefully it could help me to find another job. I believe that being isolated from everyday routines allows unemployed people to slip into a different way of life and this pattern is doubly difficult to shift.

    4 weeks compulsory work - or loose your money! How is this going to prevent those self-employed black market workers from going back to their previous activities?

    Some of your other correspondents are right. Where are the jobs? Where is adequate and certified training? Where is there encouragement and real help to get back into the job market when public bodies are disappearing, jobs are being cut and private employers are not taking on? Private employers rarly wish to take on people who ahve been unemployed for any length of time and need a great deal of persuading.

    This is not the solution to long term uneployment!!

  • Comment number 43.

    If you go on to the Guardian website there are some ridiculous comments, comparing this to "nazism". Probably comes from people who know the game is up.

    This is a measure only for long term benefit claimants who don't seem to be making an effort to get a position.

    It's not for free enough. You get housing benefit and jobseekers allowance permanently.

    It's only for 4 weeks. It is like work experience.

    Meanwhile there are comments else where on the internet about how they are unemployed and apply to 3 jobs a week. I mean 3 jobs a week? If you are serious you should apply to 3 jobs a day. Also what is with the internet - can't be that poor.

  • Comment number 44.

    I thought the object of the exercise was to reduce DEBT, this is probably best acomplished by pursueing the debtors, and not spending more money on hairbrained schemes which simply cause more competition for work,. it helps if you can concentrate for more than ten minutes,.

  • Comment number 45.

    Been reading a few of your comments, and as a long term unemployed person I will say this. I do not just sit back on my ass, I look for work, always have, but the simple fact is I only have limited experience and a few small qualifications to start with. These qualifications were gained by some "Work Experience" courses that I was forced onto.

    Now if the proposals actually allow the person to gain something then it will benefit the persons taking part in it, but 4 weeks ?? come on .. to get an SVQ2 qualification in anything takes 6 months of on hand experience and training.

    Now when I was younger, the rules changed regards to unemployed 16-18 years old. We were informed we were now unable to receive benefits if you stayed at your parental home, so then I went and done some community service as a volunteer for 6 months. No qualification at the end of that, but it was work experience for the same money as I would have received if I was getting benefits.
    So the test has been done before, and it can work if it is long enough to actually count as work experience and be of benefits to the persons involved, to not give it that amount of time is to basically call it "Forced Labour" and then our country becomes a dictatorship.

    There are many on the dole system that are a complete drain on the economy system, and many of them are on "special" programs like methadone or even worse, the kids with kids one that we see all the time but say nothing about it. For me, a guy who was on DLA due to mental and physical health problems, with this new proposal am thinking "about time!!!" I just hope we can get some decent experience/ qualifications out of this, cause if we don't, then it belittles everything else.

    Wayne Leiper

  • Comment number 46.

    I guess perspective has a part to play here. I work 48 hours a week, I earn a decent living for the lifestyle I have, I obay most laws and respect my city and the people around me. Personally, I feel this is an excellent drive from the government.
    On the other hand, if I was living in a council house, living on benefits because I wasted my school life and avoid work like it has leprosy then I'd think that this is an awful idea.
    What about the people in the middle? Those with daughters (who're perfect in every way of course) who just happen to have failed at life so have got pregnant for a life on the dole, or what about genuinely disabled people who really can't find work?
    Well, Let's have another read of the article shall we?
    "Under the plan, claimants thought to need 'experience of the habits and routines of working life' could be put on the month long, 30-hour a week placements."
    Translation: If they think you're a work-shy sponge, then you're in for 120 hours of litterpicking.
    Moving on:
    "Anyone refusing to take part or failing to turn up on time to work could have their £65 Jobseekers' Allowance stopped for at least three months."
    JOBSEEKERS. Not Disability, not Housing, not Council Tax, not Childcare. Just your iphone/cigs/vodka/Sky TV allowance. (So before blathering on about the disabled or otherwise genuinely unemployable, let this sink in)
    "The Work Activity scheme is said to be designed to flush out claimants who have opted for a life on benefits or are doing undeclared jobs on the side."
    Translation: It's aimed at the skiving sponges who soak up the tax that I and the other earners pay.
    I will admit, thouth, that the actual wording on the white paper will be an interesting read.
    If I wanted to get flamed for the next month or so then I could follow these quotes with some comments such as 'So learn to read before you post, you illiterate goit' or 'Get off your kappa/burberry enshrouded backsides and taste some work' or even 'learn how to earn the money for that BMW you just bought whilst living at MY expense'
    But I'm not such a one-sided bigot.
    I still think it's a cracking idea - cleaner streets & hedges, neater green areas, less drain on the public coffers and a long overdue wake-up call to the subculture of benefit frauds that plague our council estates. Have you looked around recently and seen the state of these society-sinks? A bit of cleaning is EXACTLY what's needed. And yes, plenty of people will complain. Deal with it - the country's in a downhill spiral and it's getting worse.
    Surgery is never pain free, and we NEED to cut out some waste.

  • Comment number 47.

    43. At 03:31am on 07 Nov 2010, LoveLondon wrote:"Also what is with the internet - can't be that poor."

    Nor is the internet that expensive if you shop around. We use the internet to look for jobs, since they are not just in once a week local newspapers. Not only that but comments like that just proves to me how society is beginning to become so corrupted and sick that people like you appear to be of the opinion that such things are for the well to do people. You want to be grateful that you have a job since I am of the assumption that you have one, oh lucky you. I bet you wouldn't go without your precious internet if you was to suddenly have a job and a life ripped out from under your feet.

  • Comment number 48.

    Im currently stuck on my fourth month of being on jobseekers allowance after leaving university and finding absolutely no jobs available. I would jump at the chance of doing some volunteer work to improve my chances of finding a job, but every volunteering postion requiers 'X' certificate, 'X' qualification, 'X' capabilities. Whilst I think that doing some compulsary work during extended claiming is an excelent idea I dont see how humiliating people desperate for work is helping anything. Making people work menial taskes for such a low wage is also going to put more people out of work as they save money paying benefits rather than waes. Perhaps offering something to do that might improve skills and options rather than being made into a dirty cheap method for the goverment to make people work for peanuts.

  • Comment number 49.

    How about this.

    Cut the cost of living, pay a decent wage and GET SOME HOUSES BUILT!

  • Comment number 50.

    The Tories must be ecstatic, they're finally about to accomplish their dearest, most long-held dream: Bringing back the workhouse.

  • Comment number 51.

    Oh, and if you think this will be confined to the "work-shy scroungers" (a miniscule percentage, even by the Tories own figures), you're dreaming. As far as the Tories are concerned, there is no such thing as someone unable to work and the "work-sy scroungers" are absolutely EVERYONE claiming benefits.

  • Comment number 52.

    "I see your true colours shining through"
    Is anyone planning on voting for the Lib Dems next time around?

  • Comment number 53.

    @ Muckey, #36
    "Wow and there was me thinking forced labour was punishment for criminals - or perhaps this Government sees the unemployed and sick as criminals?"

    Yes. Yes, they do.

  • Comment number 54.

    Its my thinking that if you sign on for job seekers allowance, you are fit and able to work. You cant be searching for a job for 37.5 hours a week and so I can't understand why a person cant put in 3 hours volunteering to get out of the house and help the community. It wouldn't necessarily be litter picking or jobs seen as punishment, but running a 40minute bingo session for the elderly at a community centre or assisting vote counting in local elections. It would keep you active, give back to the community and might even open up more job options for you with the experience on your CV. I think, as long as its dealt with sensitively, it could be a good idea.

  • Comment number 55.

    I lost my job 4 months ago, and since then have spent almost every waking hour trying to find work, searching in vain on the Goverment's own website, registering at over a dozen agencies, leaving CVs in every local shop and factory, asking friends and family to keep their ear to the ground for anything I might be able to apply for. In return I have been rewarded with 6 weeks temporary minimum wage work carrying trays in a local bakery, which I did, and for which was grateful, until the work dried up at the start of October and I found myself back in Job Centre. In short, I am desperate for work. But the fact is, there is none.

    The prospect of somehow being held accountable for this situation, and indeed of being penalised for it, truly adds insult to injury. Even putting aside for a moment the basic human right of a fair wage for a day's work, the accusing, and let's face it threatening tone that the Government is adopting here is infuriating. I am playing ball, and I'm getting nothing for it. Mr Duncan-Smith, I don't want "a sense of work", I want work.

  • Comment number 56.

    What about making prisoners work. They cost far more (£30,000 a year) than benefit claimants. What about bringing back work-houses?

  • Comment number 57.

    Any policeman will tell you that the majority of crimes are committed by a small number of people. The same is true of benefit fraud and unemployment claimant beneficiaries.

    The vast majority of people on benefits would rather not be there and cannot find a job through no fault of their own. Yes, there will always be a segment of society that would prefer to rake in taxpayers' money rather than work, but please let's not throw the rest of the people on benefits into that group.

    Rather than press-ganging people into humiliating work for less than minimum wage, let's see the Tories do what they allegedly do best and free up money for private enterprise. If litter needs picking up, or pavements cleared of chewing gum, I guarantee there is some enterprising soul out there who could, if the capital were made available, start a company and employ many other job-seekers for a proper wage, charging the local council the proper commercial rates for this kind of work. Just checking who owns and bailed out many of the banks who won't lend money to start-ups... oh yes.. us, the taxpayers and voters.

    I suspect, like many of you, the government is interested in cut-price manual labour and (#52 Albert), I will not be voting Lib Dem the next time round. They have sold themselves down the river for seats in the cabinet; I am hugely disappointed with them and now find myself with no party to vote for.

    However, my disappointment, politically, is nothing compared to how badly a whole segment of the community is about to be treated.

  • Comment number 58.

    Sorry but I've just got to post again, I cannot believe how stupid some people really are on here. All these people saying that it's a good idea, so basically your all saying that you are quite prepared to pay a single person £65 a week (well below minimum wage) to clear up after the rest of you lot??? Instead of turning these so called community jobs into an actual paying job at minimum wage, where unemployed people are actually working and contributing to the country via taxes and NI contributions. It just goes to show that this country is well and truly down the gutter. Litter picking, running a bingo..... hang on but these are jobs carried out by people who are getting a wage.... I repeat a WAGE! If its a job that needs doing then its a job thats worth paying for.

  • Comment number 59.

    This has been my viewpoint for a long time. The streets are a tip, litter everywhere, graffiti on every blank surface, grass uncut, public buildings vandalised etc. Let's face it, a great deal of this generated by the unemployed. These people benefit from taxpayers, so I see no reason why they shouldn't contribute to it either.

    Rather than getting up at lunchtime to watch daytime TV, they should have the work ethic reinforced and contribute to society, instead of bleed off us. getting up at 7am to strip spray paint off a wall might actually motivate some people to not only find a decent job, but teach them to respect their environment as well.

    The rules should be strict, and anyone that doesn't show up, shows up late, or doesn't get their back into it should be sent home and their benefits stopped until they toe the line. Money is a great motivator.

    That said, 30 hours is a bit excessive, as they do need enough time to find a proper job. One day a week is not asking too much and it weeds out the layabouts. It will help keep minds focussed, the place tidy and even, God forbid, invoke a little civic pride and responsibility.

  • Comment number 60.

    If there are millions of people able to do a job and being paid to do nothing, it makes no sense to pay others to do it.

    ..and to those that think bankers caused our current problems, stop believing the propaganda designed to pin it all on scapegoats so society as a whole doesn't have to accept any of the blame.

    We're spending beyond our means, even the cuts won't balance the books. Those "awful" bankers provide a massive amount of this country's income, after all what else do we do for he rest of the world to pay for our cars, TVs, computers, etc. ?
    The banking issues had such a massive effect because we're so dependent on financial services and had been riding a bubble based on the heap finance they provided; yet the people trying to pin our ills on the bankers weren't complaining when they were enjoying the party... and yet we were still spending more than we were earning even during the boom (bubble peak) years.
    NEWSFLASH: we need to get things into some form of sustainable balance and the "that's fine, as long as somebody else pays for it" attitude is a joke. Try asking; in world terms what do I do to deserve the standard of living I expect? - People here enjoy a massively higher standard of living for not working than people in other parts of the world working 16hr days 6 and 7 days a week; how come we're somehow "entitled" to that? How about earning a living?

  • Comment number 61.

    Are people being paid a proper wage for this work? I seriously doubt it
    It is basically slave labour. I have been a victim of crime a number of
    times both under Tory and Labour governments, now this makes me really
    sick to the stomach. Deprived of justice, am I now to be treated as a
    common petty crook myself, by being given cummunity work if I cannot
    find a job. And after all who really caused all the economic mess, the
    government with it's flawed polocies over the last 30 years, pandering
    to the whimz of the the rich and popularist right wing vote.
    The top 100 richest in the country are currently estimated to be worth
    more than 200 Billion between them, maybe this is a clue to what has
    really created the economic black hole. Plus needless to say 30 years
    of corrupt government. I know what I think of the goverment reforms
    but I cannot express my anger and contempt on this web page.

  • Comment number 62.

    The question i would ask those who agree with this is:

    Would YOU work 30 hours a week for £65?

  • Comment number 63.

    Job Seekers isn't that high, you are given £53.11 per week, in return, you must prove you are actively seeking work and are able to work.

    I cannot believe the shear ignorance of some people posting here. Do you think its fun or nice living on £53 per week? I can assure you, it isn't.

    You do realise, they intend to MAKE you work, for LESS than the minimum wage, you do realise that is illegal right? Bring back the sweatshops and work houses is it? When did the UK turn into china?

    People need to get their heads out their backsides and realise just how hard it is to get any kind of job. I have 4 years retail experience, a perfect work record and CV, and yet get turned down for jobs in Asda and Tesco, it is a joke, and certainly not a choice.

  • Comment number 64.

    I think this is rediculous It's a modern way of slavery, who in the right mind is going to work for 30 + hours for £52.00 a Week, This does not seem like a Colition only a Tory miniorty Party.

    I'm not a Tory or a labour voter, but i much perferred labours way of dealing with Unemployment and that was to bring them back into work through '' Back to work sessions '' It provided experiance, and soical abilities and, tutors tought studends Interview techniques.

    This had a possitive way of helping the unemployed back into work.

    The Tory way of dealing with the Umeployed, does not benefit anybody, it only reliefs those high tax payers.

    David Cameron should ansear this '' Why should people out of work of no fault of their own be scrutinised and punished this way, for the Goverments and Bankers mistakes ?

    Normal decent people.

    I my self Was a college Student, In the mist of this the Credit Crunch happened, By the time i got my qualificatons i soon realised there isent any jobs, I've applied to over 52 in one day.. only to get two replies saying thanks but were not looking for anybody.

    52 companies in my small town !!!

    The Tory's have also proposed for people to TRAVEL.. yes i would if i could afford too, not on 52 pound a week.

    I can not even do a part time job, as i'm 14 pounds worst off Each week on paying a bill.

    I live in a A tax band housing.. very low rent aswell.

    Employers do not pay enough, and the Goverment aren't helping anybody with this rediculous idea it does not benefit the tax payers or the unemployed it is meaningless, They should either help people into work, or CREATE JOBS.

    How Can you make cuts changing peoples lives and them tell them a few weeks down the line they will be picking up litter ?????

  • Comment number 65.

    I agree with what you say i think it is a good idea. I work as a house keeper in a hotel and i love it, i have to work up to 40 hours a week. my doughter has a horse and i pay for the keeping of him and it is not cheep but what anoys me is that where we keep our horse there is a familly who don't work and also has a horse for their doughter, not to say they cant or should not have one but when i have to work in order to give my children outside hobbys it makes me cross that realy i'm paying to keep two horses, and the parents are fine they can drive and do all the work up the yard so if they can do all that they should be working

  • Comment number 66.

    Student debts of £19,000 and the government want me to pick up litter. How about they try to actually create some jobs?

  • Comment number 67.

    @Robneal..... Oooooh look you must be another one who is fortunate to have a job. So all unemployed people are criminals as well are they? Wow you lucky employed people really know how to label people less better off than your oh so wonderful selves don't you. Well here are a few labels of my own to describe you, self-righteous, arrogant, ignorant, egotistical, selfish, condescending, patronising, vindictive. Not to mention being just as equally morally inept as those who truly do sit around doing nothing all day long.

  • Comment number 68.

    If people haven't figured it out; for most labour intensive industries either;
    1) We're too expensive compared to the rest of the world due to a combination of our cost of living and the standard of living we believe we're entitled to.
    2) It involves somebody else paying for services, either from the pay they take home or taxes (now or in the future if we continue to borrow to finance it). Surely generally the person paying should decide what they want and what they're prepared to pay for it.

    How is it wrong to expect people to do some work for the benefits they receive and to give them an idea of the demands of working life?

    The issue of how we create jobs in a global market we price ourselves out of is another question.
    The suggestion in #49 of building houses is an interesting one, of course doing this at a decent price rather than the increased costs associated with the house price bubble (still over inflated) would make sense rather than just pumping money into keeping the construction industry in the style to which it has become accustomed. Of course building more houses would probably put downward pressure on house prices and we all know how important the media and therefore people think house prices are, after all those rises in value and money for nothing mean they're richer don't they?.. unless of course you consider the primary purpose of a house to be somewhere to live rather than a speculative investment (with potential losses protected to a large degree).

    In the meantime, until we find something we can do better than the rest of the world at a cost the rest of the world is prepared to pay; we'll continue to depend on The City and those dreadful bankers.. who everyone seems to hate, but if they ever took their business and income elsewhere the country really would be bankrupt.

    The question is; what's stopping people being employed?

    Is it lack of jobs or lack of jobs at either a price employers are prepared to pay or people are prepared to work for?

    We have unemployed and yet some businesses (e.g. fruit picking) are dependent on labour imported from the likes of Eastern Europe, why because people here think they're too good to work so hard for so little, yet expect others to pay for their keep.

    I'm not really a fan of the 9 to 5 aspect being mentioned in relation to the scheme, after all for many jobs those hours aren't relevant and besides the principle of trying to get a variation in travelling times where possible to reduce time wasted travelling and the environmental impact makes sense.

  • Comment number 69.

    The biggest problem I have with it is that these people will be paid the normal JSA amount, not a fair wage for the work they will be doing. So what happens to the people who clean the streets for a living? Well they'll be made unemployed to save money, thus pushing up unemployment. This is slave labour and has to be against minimum wage laws.

    Also if you're claiming JSA because you have been made redundant from a trained profession like plumbing or building then how would something like cleaning the streets ever help you?

  • Comment number 70.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 71.

    #64 The issue of people being worse off due to taking a job is ridiculous and hopefully something that will be sorted out sooner rather than later; combining the benefits and tax systems would make eliminating such injustices easier.

    As to travelling to find work, there's something called the "Travel to Interview" scheme, it may be a bureaucratic pain, but if you travel outside your local area for an interview you can get the travel costs paid.

    "CREATE JOBS" is something of a challenging demand; sure you can take Labour's approach and just expand the public sector and get other people to pay more for services they were already getting or indeed borrow more and more to do so, but that isn't sustainable. Either we struggle to borrow more, the cost of the borrowing means we can do less and less or those doing the things that earn the money to pay for the "created" jobs, decide they don't want to keep paying for something they don't want and relocate; meaning there's even less money to pay for things.
    We're in competition with the rest of the world, we need to find reasons to make people want to employ people here, doing something that earns the country a living in the world.

  • Comment number 72.

    my last comment got removed i must have touched a nereve anyway no idont think its not a good idea ok ( is that better bbc) im ever so sorry i went over the top a bit, (70)

  • Comment number 73.

    #62 - Strangely the answer is YES, I would work 30hrs a week for £65, if I had no other option to support myself I would do whatever I could.
    Of course I wouldn't be happy with it and would be looking for other work, but you take what you can to EARN a living rather than expecting others to pay for you.

    (.. and yes, I have taken jobs at a considerable pay cut to keep working in the last couple of years - not to £65 a week admittedly, but still, wanting to work and being flexible in order to keep doing so).

  • Comment number 74.

    #58 - erm the tax and NI (what little is paid at that wage level) comes out of the wage - so if there is a labour force available for nothing, given that they would get £65 per week anyway, having that labour force do the work rather than paying someone a full wage to do it would save money.

    Perhaps extending this to more schemes would stop Council Taxes increasing year after year, although whether the schemes would involve actually working or just turning up, would be interesting to see.
    Will councils reduce street cleaning budgets (and jobs) as a result?
    How will this differ from community punishment orders?

  • Comment number 75.

    What's with the sudden slew of "You're one of the lucky ones to have a job"?
    I've been in my current position for just shy of 2 years. I came into the company before the collapse but turned up on time every day, worked my backside off, was friendly to everyone and learned as much as I possibly could. To be slightly boring - my performance in the numbers that count to the management (i.e. the league table of who to fire next) is twice as good as second-place. I'm in a job because of a high work ethic and good personal manner, not because of luck.
    Call me a Tory if you want (though I'm not), but I've worked very hard to get and now keep my position - don't belittle me by suggesting I'm merely lucky.
    One of the things that this proposal can't say is that they're making living off benefits harder than working, that would be un-PC. The fact of the matter is that for a whole generation now there's been an apathy toward working and earning because 'it's OK, I can just doss around all the time and then pick up a giro when I move out of my parent's place'.
    Luck? No - just hard work learned the hard way, and I'm a stronger and more confident person because I know exactly what I'm worth, both financially and socially.

  • Comment number 76.

    If they have empty jobs for unemployed people to 'try', why don't they simply advertise the posts in the Job Centre and... well, employ someone? Oh right... of course, I forgot. They can't afford staff.

    Getting unemployed people to work for free during public service cuts? Enforced work by the state? Hmmm. I'm sure there's a name for that...

  • Comment number 77.

    Working for benefits makes PERFECT sense. I work every day and don't get a free lunch, or breakfast or dinner, or electricity or a house... Whys should someone on benefits who can do meaningful work even if it involves manual tasks? People who can work should be compelled to contribute to society for the benefits they receive. It is ONLY fair that they do so. The cities are filthy in this country and virtually everything needs painting and basic repairs. Socialism should work both ways.

  • Comment number 78.

    #65 but if you're a cleaner you're exactly the kind of person who will be made unemployed. They'll get rid of you in a shot if someone else can do it for £65 a week, just over £2 an hour.

  • Comment number 79.

    I wonder if all those outraged at this are the ones who sit on the dole claiming as many benefits they can all their life and not doing anything to find a job. If I was unemployed I would do any work that came along such as clean toilets worked in McDonalds etc. Too many people think that it is beneath them to do those things and prefer to wait for the perfect job and sit getting benefits whilst waiting for that job.

  • Comment number 80.

    Without any doubt, these freeloaders should be made to contribute somewhere as all they seem to do is take, take, take and expect too much for nothing. These feckless lazy takeaways don't deserve all this without putting something back especially when there are so many in need of support with genuine disabilities and care needs who get nothing and struggle as well as putting their lives at risk to make ends meet.

    Those on long term benefits who choose to go this way ought to be made do the jobs which don't require any skills which are uncomfortable like sweeping the streets and be made to go out in most weathers.

  • Comment number 81.

    As long as it's the idle people that get picked on then I am more than happy. Too many people have got away with an easy life. I am sure we all know some smug person that have spent years if not all of their life sponging who now think it's their right to get free money.

  • Comment number 82.

    -- One thing we can do is pull people in to do one or two weeks' manual work - turn up at 9am and leave at 5pm, to give people a sense of work,--

    So says Duncan Smith,
    Does this apply also to any of his Cabinet colleagues?

  • Comment number 83.

    @75 Your arrogance, ignorance and self importance is astounding.

    I got a job on a temp contract, with *the possibility for permanent employment*. Translated to *We will fire you when we make less money*.

    Worked my backside off, never late, always nice, helping endlessly.
    Guess what, the shops profits fell very slightly, so the next week, contract terminated, no reason given. They still haven't replaced me nearly 4 months later. I was sacked to save money, end of.

    You seem to think, that people who lose jobs, sat around all day picking their nose and were late all the time and rude. You have no idea how easily employers can sack you, especialy when they use nice small print in your contracts.

    Yes you are lucky to have a job. You just don't know it

  • Comment number 84.

    i think it is a very good idea but a few weeks at a time is nothing they should be made to worck full time if i dont worck i dont get paid.
    also what i think is a good idea is they shoudant get money they should ave rashon books like in the war. these books would be like for food and cloths if they wont money then they need to get of there lazy asses and worck like the rest of us

  • Comment number 85.

    When mr_scotty says that £65 will be paid for 30 hours, he seems to forget that there's rent rebates (£60) Council tax rebates (£17) free dental treatment (£5) Free Prescriptions (£1.50)and more that come with the "dole/pocket money".

    So in fact, at the minimum wage, it all adds up to £30 hours worked.

    Put it another way, if I am employed at the minimum wage and doing 40 hours, the FIRST 30 HOURS I work just put me on an equal par with my neighbour who doesn't do nowt. He also has more time to , say, shop around for bargains, or even earn up to £5 on top of his benefit quite legally.

    As for me I start being better off than my neighbour during the last 10 hours of my working week.

    Do your maths mr_scotty - and another thing is unemployment is not "torture" - with a negative mentality like that, no wonder you'se on the dole mate. Enjoy your time there before the money savvy Tories give you a kick in the back side to wake you up.

  • Comment number 86.

    I found it soul destroying receiving money and doing no work. I'm now too old to work, but if I were on the dole, I'd still rather do community service or some other government provided job rather than sitting at home just receiving the dole.

  • Comment number 87.

    Often, people on long term benefits can be embarrassed about claiming and a few hours work each week of some community benefit will boost self-esteem and give confidence back to many long term claimants. Everbody wins.

  • Comment number 88.

    @ Tom_Sheffield your exactly the type of person my comments are aimed at. The type of all high and mighty person who looks down their noses at other people. Yes I am angry at employed people, yes I am resentful, why because I am sick and tired of people throwing accusations at me. Accusing me of sponging off the conutry, accusing me of being a criminal, accusing me of being a layabout. Why on earth should I take that kind of insult off people. I and my partner are not one of those layabouts. We are most certainly not criminals, legally or morally. Both os us had jobs ripped from under our feet, I was in public services, my partner worked in a warehouse, but the company moved to the USA because it was cheaper. My partner cannot get any funding of any sort to enable him to reskill and venture to another work area. At present I am unable to work as I have one child with development problems who for a while longer will benefit from me being at home. And before you say anything, when I had my kids things were good, we had jobs and we had a life. Now I feel frightened and sick all the time. I hate living like this, its disgusting, cheap and heartbreaking. My partner is trying so hard to get a job. So we can have a better qaulity of life for ourselves and our kids, but also to teach our kids the moral values and self respect of having a job and that lying around is a shameful thing. I can't sleep and I'm just taking this all bad, it feels like we are being punished when we are trying so damn hard. It just feels like everyone treats ALL unemployed people like scum, when in actual fact its just not true. I know me and my partner are crying out for help, but nobody is listening or even prepared to help us.

  • Comment number 89.

    If YOU're a cleaner then THEY'll put YOU out of work?
    If you're a cleaner then you have a contract to work, right? Else you'd be working illegally, right? So it's unfair dismissal (legally, quite costly) to can you for no reason other than "we found someone cheaper" (they'd let your contract expire then not renew it - see my Working Hard post, #75)
    So now two arguements follow...
    1 - Why would your boss replace you with someone who's going to not want to be there, not care, then leave for free after a fortnight?
    2 - Is there a monopoly on street-sweeping all of a sudden? Some massive national union of street-sweepers?
    Let's face it, there's all this healthy competition around, so instead of seeing one street cleaner a week now we'll see two. 200% clean for 150% cost. It makes sense from both ends, AND the original sweeper guy keeps his job.
    So please, stop with the 'They'll take your job' lines?

  • Comment number 90.

    87. No, not everyone.

    What about the people who are paid a wage to clean the streets or to remove graffiti? They'll be made unemployed because now employers only need to pay £65 a week for the same job.

  • Comment number 91.

    #83 - Maybe, maybe not. You don't know the number of truely dire jobs I've had in the past, all contract, and all terminated with almost no notice. Believe me I understand how hard it can be to be a contractor, that's why I'm working twice as hard as anyone else.
    Also you're mistaking arrogance for confidence. I simply know what I'm worth as a person. If you met me you'll find I'm quite humble in reality, but I do know of what I speak.

  • Comment number 92.

    When will somebody have the courage to address the real problem - The ridiculous over supply of labour in this country - if we have to break EU rules, then so be it, but the high unemployment will be here forever unless something is done. Economies need to have the right to adjust labour supply to suit economic needs - impossible when the potential labour pool is 500 million EU citizens + others

  • Comment number 93.

    I don't see why unemployed people can't do some form of work, as it would give them a sense of worth, provided they still had time to seek real employment. I work for a charity and we have volunteers helping and frequently they have had to go on 'employment courses' which have been of little benefit and have left us without needed help. There should be some way of excluding people who are already volunteering so that charities don't lose out. We still support their efforts to gain employment, but they are getting experience while volunteering. Those who are just sitting at home are the ones who need to get out there and do something constructive. Not everyone is suited to manual work however, so a one size fits all approach is probably not going to work.

  • Comment number 94.

    my husband was made redudant in april 2009.if the government put more effort into protecting jobs and helping people find them this ssue would not arise. do not presume that everyone out of work is a slacker and benefit cheat. they are not criminals .they are victims of poor government money management. for a start they could scrap the job centres; they are useless and a drain on resources.

  • Comment number 95.

    Once again we see the truth of the liars and cheats that are tories. They claim they want to help people back to work but expect them to work for almost zero income. the councils will see this as a green light to sack all their street cleaners as they know they can just get the government to force their ex-employees back on benefits rather than on a real wage. And when you have all these unemployed people doing the worst jobs possible for zero money when are they going to have the chance to find a job?
    Heck even some MP's admit their are not jobs out there right now only the liars that are the tories think there are

  • Comment number 96.

    #88 I feel for you, I do, but don't mistake me for the high-and-mighties, I'm just a grunt on the ground, earning just enough to support myself. This is where my aggrevation comes from - *just* enough to support myself. Tell me why my tax goes to fund the spongers? And when have I accused or insinuated that you're a sponger? And when has this forum thread become personal? Have a careful look at #46, I'm pretty much arguing the same as you: IF you're a sponge, IF you're a work-dodger. You're not, so congratulations on not having any negative comment aimed at you.
    And in all honesty, good luck in landing a new job - speaking as one who has been homeless and lost my fiancee through unemployment, I know full well how badly it sucks to not have something to do but want to do it.

  • Comment number 97.

    Absolutely benefit claimants should work. There is a great deal that can be done that would not involve taking jobs from the employed. It is unfair that some should receive benefit, have their mortgages/rents paid, be exempt from council tax and still be able to afford to drink, smoke and go on expensive holidays - sadly I know a number who fit this description.

  • Comment number 98.

    Tom_Sheffield sorry you are talking from a dark place.
    Yes you may have a contract which always tends to be time limited however and this is the bit you either ignore of fail to comprehend when your 1 year contract is up do you really think they are going to rehire you when they can get forced labour at 0 cost.

  • Comment number 99.

    #98 - Absolutely, because there are 23 other guys who'll get the boot first. And replacing an entire department with 2-week wonders isn't going to do any company any good. Management isn't THAT short sighted.

  • Comment number 100.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.


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