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Dole Claimants May Be Forced Into Manual Work

Benefit claimants could be forced to undertake full-time manual labour under Government proposals

Long-term dole claimants thought to need “experience of the habits and routines of working life” could be put on month-long unpaid placements of 30 hours a week doing jobs such as clearing litter and gardening.

It’s thought people seen as being “workshy” or dishonest claimants will be targeted in particular.

But the Archbishop of Canterbury warned the changes could drive vulnerable people into a “downward spiral of uncertainty, even despair”.

Anyone who refuses to take part or fails to turn up on time could have their Jobseekers Allowance halted for at least three months.

Details of the plans will be revealed in the Welfare Reform White Paper expected in the coming week.

It will set out Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith’s proposals for a universal credit to replace the range of benefits currently claimed by the jobless.

He has said the plans are designed to reduce welfare dependency and make work pay.

He said: “One thing we can do is pull people in to do one or two weeks’ manual work – turn up at 9am and leave at 5pm, to give people a sense of work, but also when we think they’re doing other work.

“The message will go across: play ball or it’s going to be difficult.”

Cabinet minister Liam Fox told Sky News the Government was “determined” to get people into work.

“One in six children are growing up in households where nobody works,” he said.

“Receiving benefits for long periods is bad for society as a whole and bad for individuals.

“You have children growing up in many homes where there is no work ethic, no experience of the workplace, and we have to give people that experience.”

Archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan Williams, said: “People who are struggling to find work and struggling to find a secure future are, I think, driven further into a sort of downward spiral of uncertainty, even despair, when the pressure is on in this way.”

Labour shadow minister and former leadership candidate Diane Abbott told Sky News’s Sunday Live: “Of course, most people on benefits are not scroungers, but there is a real issue here.

“I come across people in my constituency who have just got out of the habit of work, either because they have been on something like incapacity benefit too long or they are young people who have never worked.

“In principle, getting people used to the routine of work is a good thing. The problem is that companies, public and private, don’t want to take people who don’t want to work.

“So the difficulty is placing the people constructively, but I understand the idea behind it.”