The Coalition Government’s Welfare Reform White Paper has been unveiled in Parliament today, by work and pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith.
The reforms centre around three key changes- the introduction of a Universal Credit System; mandatory work placements for the long-term unemployed; and toughened sanctions for benefit claimants who refuse work.
Mr Duncan Smith claimed the changes will create a ‘contract’ between the unemployed and the taxpayer, saying:
“Your contract is: if you’re unemployed, work with us, do what you have to do to look for work, apply for work, and take work.
“If you do not, there will be a series of different sanctions that say, look, you’re not helping, you are not working with us.
“The taxpayer has a right, out of fairness, that if they are spending that money they get something back.
“Something back is that you take work when work is available.”
The Universal Credit System will consolidate the 30 or so employment-related benefits into a single, universal payment.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, said that the universal credit system removes the “artificial disincentives to work” that, for many people, make part time work less profitable than staying on benefits.
Mr Clegg said: “It must always be worth working, even for a few hours a week.”
Long-term employment benefit claimants will be forced to undertake unpaid work experience placements, if their job centre advisor believes they may benefit from experiencing the “habits and routines of working life.”
Mandatory work placements will be for 30 hours a week, lasting four weeks.
An insider from the Department for Work and Pensions, said: “We know there are still some jobseekers who need an extra push to get them into the mindset of being in the working environment and an opportunity to experience that environment.
“This is all about getting them back into a working routine which, in turn, makes them a much more appealing prospect for an employer looking to fill a vacancy, and more confident when they enter the workplace. The goal is to break into the habit of worklessness.”
Finally, proposed tougher sanctions for job seekers who refuse work will mean that any claimant who either refuses a job, fails to apply for a job when told to by their job centre advisor, or fails to attend a placement interview, may lose their entitlements.
A three-strike rule will be put in place, whereby first time offenders lose their benefits for three months, second time offenders for six months, and third time offenders for three years.
The reforms are expected to be in place by 2013, with the first claimants moved to the new system by the end of the current Parliamentary term, in 2015.
Commercial recycler and social welfare charity, Recycling Lives, is dedicated to helping those facing worklessness and welfare dependency turn their lives around.
Recycling Lives provides opportunities for people facing an uncertain future through accommodation, education, training and work experience.
The Recycling Lives programme creates skilled, confident employees with a strong work ethic.
So far, 100 per cent of individuals who have completed the programme have achieved full time employment and independent living.
Recycling Lives Founder and Chairman, Steven Jackson, said: “Tackling the crippling effects of welfare dependency and worklessness is one of the most important tasks facing the new Coalition Government.
“Millions of individuals and families across the UK are trapped in this bleak cycle. Recycling Lives is ideally placed to help many of these people turn their lives around, find employment and move away from welfare dependency.”