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Osborne to unveil fresh crackdown on unemployed
GEORGE Osborne will today unveil a fresh crackdown on the long-term jobless, by speeding up a US-style “work for your dole” scheme.
The Chancellor will use his speech to the Conservative conference to promise to strip unemployment benefits from anyone who refuses to work full-time unpaid.
The clampdown had been expected to form a major plank of the Tory manifesto for the 2015 general election, to curb what ministers call the ‘something-for-nothing’ culture.
But Mr Osborne will reveal that the £300m ‘Help to Work’ scheme will now begin next April – wiping out what one aide called “the option of just ‘signing on’ as usual”.
Anyone who breaks the rules will lose their benefits for four weeks – and for 13 weeks for any second offence.
The Chancellor will 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. Help to work – and, in return, work for the dole.”
The scheme will come in for around 200,000 Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claimants a year, after they have been through the existing private sector-led ‘Work Programme’.
They will be required to do either 30 hours of community work each week, attend a jobcentre every day, or accept specialist help for mental health problems, or addiction.
For the first time, any breaches of the rules will be referred directly to the department for work and pensions (DWP) so sanctions can be imposed “immediately”.
Meanwhile, yesterday, David Cameron strongly defended his controversial decision to bring forward the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme against warnings that it risks stoking up a property price bubble.
The scheme - offering Government guarantees to allow buyers to secure existing homes worth up to £600,000, with a five per cent deposit – will now start next month, instead of in January.
The prime minister told the BBC: “I am not going to stand back while people's aspirations to get on the housing ladder, to own their own flat, to own their own home, are being trashed.
“If we don't do this, it will only be people with rich parents who can help them with the deposit who can get on the housing ladder. That is not fair.”
But the Manchester conference began to the backdrop of a 50,000-strong protest against spending cuts – and a poll giving Labour a healthy 11-point lead over the Tories, by 42 per cent to 31 per cent.
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