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Benefit changes plan sparks row
8:30pm Tuesday 1st October 2013 in News
PLANS to force the long-term unemployed to take part in work placements in return for their benefits prompted a mixed reaction from business leaders and the jobless.
The scheme is part of the Government’s push to reduce welfare spending. Chancellor George Osborne made it clear at the Conservative conference this week there would be sanctions for people who do not accept the help.
The new rules will force 200,000 benefit claimants who have not found work after two years to complete community work, attend a jobcentre every day, or undertake an intensive support programme to tackle underlying problems, such as drug addiction and illiteracy,.
Peter Burch, director of policy at Essex Chambers of Commerce and Industry, said: “The work placements seem to be work in the community, rather than through businesses.
“ButIthink most employers would say anything that keeps people in a positive frame of mind about working can only be beneficial.
“With regards to the full-time support programmes proposed, I think employers would be of the view anything that helps people in returning to work is to be welcomed.”
However, many of those receiving benefits, like 33-year-old Jamie Prowse, were unimpressed.
Mr Prowse, of Bosworth Close, Hockley, has been seeking work for four years, and didn’t think the scheme would help the unemployed.
He said: “It’s the Tories all over. It’s belittling to people who are hardworking, but struggling to find jobs.
“Community service is for people who have committed crimes and need to serve the community, so making people struggling to find work do it is going to make them feel down. It’s not going to help anyone.
“With the support regimes, it’s like they’re stereotyping certain people who are looking for work, as though everyone is a drug addict or has problems. It’s such a black and white view.”
Mr Prowse added: “There are so many obstacles to getting work, and so many hurdles people have to overcome, with no help to focus on your skills.
“Of all the people I’ve spoken to about the scheme, no-one supports it.
If the people that come up with these ideas had to swap shoes for a day, they’d get an idea of what it’s like and what would really help.”
The £300 million-pound scheme is due to begin in April 2014, .
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