Compulsory labour for jobless: Your comments


Long-term benefit claimants could be forced to do compulsory manual labour under proposals being put forward by the government, it has emerged.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is set to outline plans for four-week placements doing jobs like gardening and litter clearing.

BBC News website readers have been getting in touch with their views.

Sandra Cooper, unemployed, Solihull

Image caption,
"Will I have to fill so many bags of litter before I am allowed home?"

I have been on jobseekers' allowance for a year. I had been on incapacity for two years prior to this due to an accident and other reasons. I am faced now with a 'stage four' from the jobcentre.

Although I don't know what this actually means, I am told to expect a call from an outside organisation in the next four weeks, who then make you jump through hoops for everything. If I don't attend, my benefits will be stopped.

I am demoralised. I have been told not to use stairs from a medical advisor, my hearing is currently classed as 'moderate', which can cause a lot of confusion in communication and I suffer from rhinitis and have quite a lot of pain in my feet and knees, especially in the winter.

I do want to work and apart from this current period of unemployment, I have had an excellent work history with lots of experience in retail. Now because of a mixture of my health problems, a lack of confidence and a tough job market, I find myself in this situation.

I am not adverse to voluntary work, but believe it needs to give rewards to the volunteers, like enabling people to gain work related skills.

The younger generation seem incredibly confident. As an older person I find it difficult to sell myself to a potential employer.

The idea of making the unemployed do voluntary work terrifies me. My image of it is that they ask me to collect litter and tell me I have to fill so many bags before I can go home.

I am 57, I have a number of health issues and I am worried. Will I have to go litter picking, or am I going to face my coming years in a poor house?

Ian Hughes, unemployed, Wolverhampton

I have recently found myself out of work for the first time in 30 years and totally agree with the proposal making the unemployed work in the community. I have been looking for a job for the past two months and the climate is tougher than I expected. I find myself in the situation where I am overqualified for many of the positions I apply for.

I will be 50 next year and other candidates I meet at interviews are aged about 25. Competing with them for jobs, I know it's never going to be me who will be selected.

I am confident that I will find work although it may take longer than I expected. I don't think this proposal will take time away from my job search, as I can send off CVs and apply for jobs online in the evenings.

Forcing the unemployed to do voluntary work is a really good idea, and if it affects me, then so be it. I believe that if you have taken something out of the system, then you should give something back.

During a previous role selling insurance to people in their homes, I met many people who freely admitted they had no intention of working - ever!

In fact, they were quite happy to brag about it. So making them put 'something back' into the community can only be a good thing and MAY encourage them to get the work ethic - although I doubt that this proposal will make a bit of difference to them.

Leyla, unemployed, north Yorkshire

Why is the government not actually doing anything to help those of us who genuinely want to work? This is a ridiculous idea. They should be putting more effort in to creating more jobs for people. No-one chooses to be out of work. I come from a family of professionals and it is embarrassing to say that I am claiming job seekers' allowance.

I graduated two years ago with a degree in biomedical science and have not been able to find any work, related or unrelated to my degree field. I live in a small town with very little opportunity for work and simply cannot afford to move away without securing a job. Jobs that I have applied for have said I am "overqualified" or I "don't have enough experience".

To date I would say I have had at least 200 rejections. Trust me, that is not easy to take. I get to the job centre and I'm told "someone young and educated like yourself shouldn't be here", just to rub salt into the wound. I've become somewhat a very familiar face at the JC.

I would be over the moon to be able to work, my life has practically been on hold for the past two years, under constant pressure from parents, not being able to socialise or hold adult conversations about a regular day at work.

How about they actually make jobs available?

I for one am fed up...

More of your comments

The problem is that when governments do this kind of thing and the Tories are notorious for this, it targets the innocent as well and those who are genuinely sick or live in areas of high unemployment and deprivation. I can understand the mode of thinking but governments always make the same old mistake - they generalise and this makes life even more miserable for the innocent. This policy needs to be looked at closer and with greater compassion - it's time politicians thought with their heads and not with their wallets. Being a Catholic I believe that life is more important than money and putting money before life is a mortal sin. I am a Conservative voter but this policy needs to be viewed with greater scrutiny so that the innocent are not trapped in this policy as well. Franco, Spalding, UK

Good! Everyone should do what they can. I was on benefits this summer past and would not want to repeat the experience. I was shocked and disgusted to see so many people who clearly did not care and just wanted a handout. Their attitude and behaviour towards job centre staff was appalling. From first hand observations I can categorically state that there are too many people abusing the system. I am not a Tory supporter but this is one area on which I agree wholeheartedly. Stop mummying these leeches and get them doing something productive! Craig, Dundee

I am a single parent and have been since my husband left two days after our third son was born. Left in a position where I was losing my home and only had maternity allowance as an income as it took the child support six months to process my claim. I went for help and I was advised I was entitled to nothing and to get a job.

I went out and secured a job but have to pay for private rented accommodation as I live within my means, which is incredibly difficult with three children. So by working and not living off the state any help with affordable housing is totally out of reach. I agree with the new reforms. Why should those just taking from working families not put anything back, by helping charities, keeping parks clean and safe for children to play in. They have their housing paid for, they get all be it a small income, its an income none the less, they receive child benefit and tax credits and have child care provided. It is about time people realise nothing in this life is free. Those who object to helping others and their communities are just selfish and do not deserve benefits. Clare Rose, Co, Durham

In my youth I claimed benefits for a year, though I never stopped looking for work. I now work as a teacher and have done for over a decade. I spend my working life trying to encourage children to better themselves, though their parents invariably have no intention of making my job any easier. My simple response to this plan is "about time too". I am utterly enamoured of the image of dragging the workshy out of their homes to make them dig - almost literally for their food. Great plan and great guts, though it's a shame the economy had to crash to such a level before any party had the courage to do it. Karyobin, Middlesbrough, UK

Four weeks' manual labour for £65 a week? Here in Sweden, I am one week into four weeks' manual labour in a shop for no pay at all. Coming from the UK, I have no rights to benefits of any kind out here, but here the job market is so tough and experience-specific that even well-qualified university graduates from other countries like myself have to do four-week work experience placements just to get a reference, to get a chance of a paid job. The same should hold true of well-executed manual labour placements for the unemployed in the UK. But I think people need the incentive of a reference that is variable according to how hard they work, or there will be nothing to distinguish the willing workers from the unwilling when it comes to future job applications. Philip Graves, Sweden