Crackdown: Employment Minister Chris Grayling wants all jobless to earn their unemployment benefits
Tens of thousands of dole claimants will be told to do unpaid community work or miss out on their benefits.
Ministers will double the number who are signed up to a work-for-welfare scheme to nearly 40,000.
Those who refuse to take up the month-long placements will lose their jobseeker’s allowance, which can be up to £71 a week.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling hopes to expand the programme, which targets those suspected of playing the system, to include thousands more claimants who repeatedly defy attempts to help them into work.
He told the Daily Mail: ‘We’ll be giving more details of our plans next month but this is a definitely a scheme that has proven to be effective and has been seen by Jobcentre Plus staff as a really important way of helping problem job-seekers.’
So far 18,000 have taken part in the programme, under which claimants work for 30 hours a week.
A Whitehall source said the scheme was aimed at those who might need a ‘steer’ to make them work.
They explained that Jobcentre staff ‘are trained to sniff out those who are, they suspect, working in the black economy, have gone off the rails or have fallen out of the habit of getting up for a 9am start’, adding that ‘they will especially be focusing on people who have shown a reluctance to look for jobs’.
The Department for Work and Pensions has said the programme will not take paid jobs away from the economy, as participants are only offered roles that are not already paid posts.
The scheme’s placements include painting schools, cleaning up parks, working in charity shops or picking up litter.
Participants are paid to cover childcare and transport, while charities and local authorities are reimbursed for creating the temporary roles.
If a claimant refuses to participate, drops out, or loses their place because of bad behaviour, they face losing their benefit for 13 weeks.
All able-bodied unemployed people will have to carry out ‘community service-style’ unpaid work in the new government scheme (file photo)
A second breach within the year would lead to them being stripped of their benefit for six months.
A recent study showed that one in five claimants referred for mandatory work signed off straight away.
One in three did not turn up for their placement and had their benefit stopped.
Labour’s health spokesman Andy Burnham has stressed that the scheme should not be used to cut the public sector wage bill, following reports that an NHS trust was planning to give claimants cleaning and feeding roles.
Mr Burnham wrote to Health Secretary Andrew Lansley, saying: ‘We all want to see the NHS playing its part to help people back to work. But people would not expect such roles to be used as a cost-cutting exercise, to undermine the position of trained staff or to lead to any reduction in the quality and safety of services.’
SOURCE: Daily Mail