Jobseekers to lose benefits

Lazy jobseekers to lose benefits for up to three years

A new government initiative could see unemployed people who do not try hard enough to find a job losing their benefits for three years.”

The new ‘three strikes’ system is the Government’s latest attempt to tackle the increasing social welfare and benefits bill and get more job seekers into work.

Currently those unemployed and seeking Jobseekers’ Allowance have to demonstrate that they are actively trying to find a job.  This can be by providing evidence of their job searches or by attending ‘job-focused’ interviews with Job Centre advisers.

If they do not, claimants may lose benefits for anything between one week and 26 weeks.  However with many facing no sanctions at all, it is thought that many people are receiving the allowance without making genuine efforts to find employment.

Under the new system which is expected to come into force this autumn (2012) claimants may lose their benefit for 13 weeks the first time they have been deemed to have broken the rules.

The second occasion will mean loss of benefits for 26 weeks.  Should they then break the rules for a third time in the same 12 month period as the second, then they will lose their benefits for 3 years.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Iain Duncan Smith, said the new rules, would be explained to job seekers at the start of their claim and were part of a “deal” between the Government and the unemployed.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “We will pay their benefits and they will in turn prove that they are doing all they can to return to the job market.

“People will now know without a doubt that if they don’t comply with the rules, they will not get their benefit. We need a sanctions regime that is clear and robust.”

According to Department for Work and Pensions research 40 per cent of claimants say they are more likely to look for work due to a threat of a sanction.

The new announced initiatives come on the back of David Cameron’s recent speech on reforming the Welfare System where he suggested that a Conservative government may: “introduce a system whereby after a certain period on benefits, everyone who was physically able to would be expected to do some form of full-time work helping the community, like tidying up the local park.”

The Guardian recently reported that the number of cases of punishments enforced against failing jobseekers has risen from 139,000 benefit cuts under Labour in 2009 to more than 500,000 in 2011.

In the first 8 months of the much discussed Work Programme, figures show that private firms running the programmes referred 110,000 cases for sanctions.  Of those 40,000 had their benefits cut by jobcentres.

In February 2012 Emma Harrison resigned her post as Chairman of A4e, one of the leading welfare to work providers that deliver the Work Programme and other government funded training designed to help reduce the unemployed after allegations of fraudulent practices.

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