From the Independent
In his speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, the Chancellor will unveil the full requirements of a £300m-a-year Help to Work programme starting next April. It will impose the most stringent conditions ever on the long-term unemployed as Mr Osborne pledges to end the option of “signing on as usual”.
Instead, 200,000 people a year who have claimed jobseeker’s allowance for three years will lose benefits unless they take up one of three options after two years on the Work Programme:
- Thirty hours a week for six months of community work such as making meals for the elderly, cleaning up litter and graffiti or charity work, plus 10 hours of “job search activity”.
- Daily attendance at a jobcentre to search for work instead of a brief interview once a fortnight.
- A mandatory intensive regime for claimants with underlying problems such as mental health, drug addiction or illiteracy.
People who refuse to take part will lose four weeks’ worth of benefit for their first breach of the rules and three months’ worth for a second offence.
Which pretty much means that people who don't want to work will turn up every day at the Job Centre, do a cursory, mandatory look at the jobs and then leave. Why spend 6 hours a day cleaning up litter when you can spend 30 minutes a day at the job centre? It's utterly spiteful, will cost more money and will have no effect on the unemployed.
Neal Lawson, who chairs the left-leaning pressure group Compass, said the long-term unemployed “need deep long-term help to get them working”. “Short-term gimmicks to light up the Tory conference will cost the taxpayer more and further stigmatise the most vulnerable in our society,” he added.
No, they really don't. I've recently been working in Newbury, not far from the Job Centre, as it happens, and there's enough business to keep it open. However, I also counted at least a dozen retail jobs in the town, few of which were asking for experience. Some part-time, some full-time. I'm sure that a lot of the long-term unemployed could start working in Greggs without much "long-term help".
As it is, instead of just converting to LVT and dishing out the money as CI payments and closing down the pointless job centres, we're going to have a choice between paying for the software and bureaucracy of daily check-ins at Job Centres (at whatever absurd rate the government pays) or paying a bureaucracy of people in a new quango (with a fancy website) offering advice to people who don't want to take a job because of the effects on their benefits.