Financial News

  • 8 April 2014, 7:26

Benefits At Risk Unless Jobseekers Make Effort

Jobseekers will soon have to prove they are taking steps to make themselves more employable or face losing some of their benefits.

From April 28, those looking for work will be expected to have written a CV, set up an email account and logged onto the Government's jobs website before they meet a Jobcentre Plus adviser.

Ministers said the move signalled a "fundamental shift" in expectations, and would help put to an end the "one-way street" to benefits where people start claiming Jobseeker's Allowance by just signing-on without first taking steps to make themselves attractive to employers.

Employment Minister Esther McVey said: "With the economy growing, unemployment falling and record numbers of people in work, now is the time to start expecting more of people if they want to claim benefits.

"It's only right that we should ask people to take the first basic steps to getting a job before they start claiming Jobseeker's Allowance - it will show they are taking their search for work seriously.

"This is about treating people like adults and setting out clearly what is expected of them so they can hit the ground running.

"In return, we will give people as much help and support as possible to move off benefits and into work because we know from employers that it's the people who are prepared and enthusiastic who are most likely to get the job."

There are currently 1.17 million people claiming Jobseeker's Allowance.

Under the changes, people will also be able to meet with Jobcentre Plus advisers weekly, rather than fortnightly.

Kate Shoesmith, from the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, is one of many employers welcoming the move.

She said: "Everything that helps the long-term unemployed back into work has to be one of the Government's top priorities right now, along with helping those who are young and looking for work, and we think this is a good move forward."

However, some are concerned political point-scoring means people on benefits are increasingly being labelled scroungers.

Sue Marsh has not been able to work for the last 13 years due to health problems.

She is now campaigning for a change to the current benefit system, and told Sky News: "The tough line actually makes people less likely to move off benefits, it makes them less likely to be confident and inspired to try to find work and makes them feel like it's better to just hold tight and dig in, which is exactly the opposite of what Iain Duncan Smith wants to achieve."

Mark Serwotka, general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services union, said: "This Government is already making life intolerable for people who are out of work, with a massive increase in the number of benefits sanctions for even minor transgressions.

"Instead of dreaming up new ways to turn the screw, ministers should be doing something about consistently high unemployment, a drastic shortage of job vacancies and the fact so many new jobs are low paid and insecure."