George Osborne's Help to Work scheme: how will it work?
'No-one gets something for nothing,' the chancellor will tell Conservative Party conference
THE long-term unemployed are to face a crackdown that could force thousands to pick up litter or clean graffiti in return for benefits. Chancellor George Osborne will outline the new 'Help to Work' scheme today at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, telling delegates: "No-one will be ignored or left without help. But no-one will get something for nothing."
Who will be affected?
The scheme is designed for those who have still not found work after spending two years on the existing 'Work Programme' course, a coalition idea introduced in 2012 that provides training and support for people who have been claiming jobseeker's allowance for more than three months. Around 200,000 meet the criteria for the new initiative, according to the Financial Times.
How will the new scheme work?
From April 2014, those affected will face three options: undertaking 30 hours a week of community work, such as cleaning up litter; visiting the job centre every day; or undergoing intensive treatment to tackle problems such as illiteracy or mental illness. Those who choose to carry out community work will also be required to spend ten hours a week looking for employment. Anyone who breaches the rules – for example, by failing to turn up for a community work placement without good reason – could lose their benefits for four weeks. A second offence would mean no benefits for three months. Each person will be expected to remain on the programme until they have found a job.
How will the scheme be funded?
The scheme will cost around £300m to implement. Osborne will officially identify where the money will come from in the Autumn Statement, but it looks likely that it will come from departmental under-spends.
What is the reaction so far?
Labour claims the new scheme is proof that the Work Programme has failed, and says it is less ambitious than its own compulsory jobs guarantee, which would ensure there is a paid job for every adult unemployed for more than two years. Others have pointed out that 30 hours a week for £56.80 in jobseekers' allowance equates to a rate of well below £2 an hour. The Observer columnist Barbara Ellen describes the new scheme as "stupid and cruel". It is ripe for exploitation by big businesses, she says, and defeats the government's objective of giving the long-term unemployed the best possible chance to find work. Nevertheless, a YouGov poll commissioned by the right-leaning think-tank Policy Exchange suggests more than half of the public want the government to make people work for their benefits. ·