Chronically Unemployed To Do Community Work, Or Lose Benefits

By: EW News Desk Team   Date: 8 November 2011

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08 November 2011

Those who have been unemployed for more than two years will soon be required to do community work in order to maintain eligibility for state unemployment benefits, the British Prime Minister announced yesterday.

David Cameron said yesterday that anyone who has been unable to find “sustainable employment” would be required to do at least 26 weeks (6 months)  of community work, lasting 30 hours a week, in order to secure continued receipt of the Job Seekers Allowance, a form on unemployment benefit.

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Work and Pensions Minister, Chris Grayling, said:

We want a welfare state which is a ladder up which people climb not a place in which they live. If people who are fit for employment, still haven’t managed to find a job after the intensive support provided by the Work Programme, we want them to do community work and get into the habit and routine of work.

No one should expect to be able to sit at home doing nothing.

Cameron was also quoted as saying, "Have we created a benefit system that has insufficient responsibility at its heart? My answer is 'yes we have' which is why we need to change it".

He added that the average time spent by some people (on the Job Seekers Allowance) looking for work is just eight minutes a day. "I don't think that is sufficient," he said.

The Government said it wanted to send a "clear message" to the unemployed that refusal to engage with the support on offer would affect their financial support from the state.

A spokeswoman for the Department for Work and Pensions said the Government would expect participants in the scheme to do jobs such as office and administrative roles, manual work, gardening, retail, care and charity work.

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According to Grayling, the Government is setting aside up to £14,000 ($22,500) per long-term unemployed to find work. The still nascent work programme, largely administered by the private sector and voluntary groups, is designed to help the unemployed find work with help on job searches, advice on job applications and sometimes work experience.

The announcement came as the labour market showed larger signs of deterioration, with the overall unemployment level at a 17-year high at 2.57 million, or 8 percent of the total workforce.

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