Magazine article Public Finance

Welfare Reforms Aim to Get More People Back to Work

Magazine article Public Finance

Welfare Reforms Aim to Get More People Back to Work

Article excerpt

Work and Pensions Secretary James Purnell this week unveiled what he claimed would be radical reforms to the welfare system, which will see claimants supported more to find work in return for them taking more responsibility.

The government's tougher approach was outlined in the green paper, No one written off. reforming welfare to reward responsibility, published on July 21. It proposed a more streamlined system made up of just two benefits: Employment and Support Allowance for people who have a medical condition that prevents them from working and Jobseeker's Allowance for people who are able to work.

Incapacity Benefit claimants will be shifted on to ESA by 2013. While there will be more money for the sickest and most severely disabled claimants, the remainder will be supported to find work appropriate to their abilities, and expected to take a job.

A firmer line will also be taken towards JSA claimants. Those who are unemployed for more than two years will be expected to participate in community work such as graffiti removal and litter collection. Training will also be a requirement and drug users could lose their benefits if they refuse to seek treatment.

Purnell said: 'This green paper proposes a simpler benefit system that rewards responsibility, gives people the incentive to do the right thing and ends the injustice of people being written off on benefits for life without any hope of getting the support they need to get back to work.'

The proposals were condemned as 'regressive and draconian by the Public and Commercial Services union, the largest civil service union. …

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