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Osborne in 'work for benefits' plan

Source BBC News@ tienganhvui.com


George Osborne at the Conservative conferenceThe chancellor says no-one will be able to get something for nothing



The long-term unemployed will have to undertake work placements in return for their benefits, under changes to be unveiled by Chancellor George Osborne.


From April, people who are jobless after being on the Work Programme will face three options, including community work, or face losing benefits.


Mr Osborne will announce the plan at the Conservative Party conference.


Labour said the idea was proof the Work Programme, set up by the coalition two years ago, had failed.


'Something in return'

In his speech to the party conference in Manchester, the chancellor is expected to say that while the government will not "abandon" the long-term unemployed no-one will be able to get something for nothing.


A central theme of Mr Osborne's speech will be that those who have been out of work for a long time will have to work hard to find a job.


Those who have not found work after two years on an existing scheme, the Work Programme, will face another one called Help to Work.


To still qualify for jobseeker's allowance they will have three options - work placements, such as cleaning up litter, daily visits to a job centre or taking part in compulsory training, for example, to improve their literacy.


People would have to remain on Help to Work until they found employment.


Those who breach the rules will lose four weeks' worth of benefits. Anyone who breaks the rules a second time faces losing three months' worth.


Mr Osborne is expected to say: "For the first time, all-long term unemployed people who are capable of work will be required to do something in return for their benefits to help them find work.


"They will do useful work to put something back into their community; making meals for the elderly, clearing up litter, working for a local charity.


"Others will be made to attend the job centre every working day. And for those with underlying problems, like drug addiction and illiteracy, there will be an intensive regime of help.


"No-one will be ignored or left without help. But no-one will get something for nothing."


'Languish on dole'

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves, said it had "taken three wasted years of rising long-term unemployment and a failed Work Programme to come up with this new scheme".


"But this policy is not as ambitious as Labour's compulsory jobs guarantee, which would ensure there is a paid job for every young person out of work for over 12 months and every adult unemployed for more than two years," she added.


"With Labour's plans we would work with employers to ensure there are jobs for young people and the long-term unemployed, which they would have to take up or lose benefits.


"Under the Tory scheme people would still be allowed to languish on the dole for years on end without having a proper job."


BBC political correspondent Chris Mason, in Manchester, says everywhere activists look at this year's conference there is a simple slogan, reading: "For hard working people."


In developments at the conference on Sunday:



Meanwhile, the leader of the UK Independence Party has said it is open to local deals for its candidates stand aside in seats with Eurosceptic MPs.


Nigel Farage ruled out a formal electoral pact but suggested there could be agreements at constituency level between UKIP and candidates from different parties.


Writing in the Times, Mr Farage said: "If either they, or others like them, even Labour MPs, with their local associations, chose to propose running on a joint ticket then I would leave the local UKIP association to have those associations."


A poll of Conservative councillors for BBC One's Sunday Politics had suggested nearly a quarter would support an electoral pact with UKIP at the next general election.


The conference continues until Wednesday when Mr Cameron will deliver his keynote speech.





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