Millions of unemployed Brits 'coasting on the hard work of taxpayers' to lose benefits in back to work shake-up

16 November 2023, 17:14

Jeremy Hunt has unveiled his back to work plan
Jeremy Hunt has unveiled his back to work plan. Picture: Alamy

By Emma Soteriou

Millions of unemployed Brits "choosing to coast on the hard work of taxpayers" will stop receiving benefits in a fresh shake-up ahead of the Autumn Statement.

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Chancellor Jeremy Hunt warned that Brits who are able to work but choosing not to would be hit with financial sanctions.

He said there must be consequences to ensure fairness for taxpayers.

The plans come ahead of the Autumn Statement next week, in which there is expected to be a back-to-work drive.

The Chancellor is also understood to have plans to cut inheritance tax after inflation fell faster than expected.

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"We’re serious about growing our economy and that means we must address the rise in people who aren’t looking for work – especially because we know so many of them want to and with almost a million vacancies in the jobs market the opportunities are there," Mr Hunt said.

"These changes mean there’s help and support for everyone – but for those who refuse it, there are consequences too.

"Anyone choosing to coast on the hard work of taxpayers will lose their benefits."

It marks the biggest set of welfare reforms since Universal Credit was introduced in 2012, Mr Hunt said.

The reforms will also mean claimants will not be able to reach 18 months out of work on full benefits without taking reasonable steps to follow Jobcentre demands.

It will set up a new “social contract” between taxpayers and the unemployed to "rebalance" the system, Mr Hunt told the Sun.

The shake-up is part of a £2.5 billion plan aiming to help more than one million people find jobs.

Welfare Secretary Mel Stride said: "We are rolling out the next generation of welfare reforms to help more people start, stay and succeed in work.

"We know the positive impact work can have, not just on our finances, but our health and wellbeing too.

"So we are expanding the voluntary support for people with health conditions and disabilities, including our flagship Universal Support programme.

"But our message is clear: if you are fit, if you refuse to work, if you are taking taxpayers for a ride - we will take your benefits away."