3,250 of East Lancashire's long term unemployed may be forced to work for benefits (From Lancashire Telegraph)
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3,250 of East Lancashire's long term unemployed may be forced to work for benefits
AROUND 3,250 people in long- term unemployment in East Lancashire could be forced to work for their benefits under legislation unveiled by the Conservative Party.
From next April, anyone who does not find a job after two years enrolment on the government’s Work Programme scheme will have to undertake a mandatory work-related activity or face losing their Job Seekers’ Allowance.
There are no compulsory schemes for those who continue not to be able to find work after they have been on the work scheme.
Yesterday, George Osborne at the Tory conference said long-term claimants would either have to undertake community work placements, including cleaning up litter and graffiti, report daily to the job centre or take part in specific training to improve basic skills such as literacy.
Those who broke the rules once would lose four weeks’ worth of benefits, with repeat offenders losing three months’ worth.
In total, 1,110 people living in Blackburn with Darwen, 785 in Burnley, 540 in Pendle, 365 in Rossendale and 70 in the Ribble Valley are set to be affected.
Conservative MP for Darwen and Rossendale Jake Berry welcomed the plan it but Blackburn MP Jack Straw said he had concerns.
Latest figures show that the Work Programme, which uses private providers to find work for claimants, had found less work for people, aged 18 to 24, than if they had been looking on their own.
Mr Straw said: “It remains to be seen how and if this new policy will work. I will give them the benefit of the doubt in the first instance.
“However, I object to the punitive rhetoric surrounding this new policy because I think they are just trying to score points towards people who are less well off than they are.”
Meanwhile, Blackburn resident Susan Frear, whose 24-year- old son Martin, who has special needs and has been unemployed for several years, said: “My son has tried hard to get a job but not enough is being done to help people like him.
“The volunteering placements and training he has been on haven’t led to jobs and it seems employers sometimes use people like him as cheap labour.”
Defending the new scheme, Mr Berry said: “I welcome these steps to get those individuals working again.”
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