Unemployed could have benefits taken away unless they learn work skills under new government plans

11 February 2023, 12:40 | Updated: 11 February 2023, 15:28

Benefit claimants could be asked to take part in an extensive training programme to get them back into work
Benefit claimants could be asked to take part in an extensive training programme to get them back into work. Picture: Getty
Kieran Kelly

By Kieran Kelly

Unemployed benefit claimants could risk losing key payments unless they take part in a new work training programme under new plans being considered by the government.

The government is looking at ways of reducing unemployment, with ministers considering the possibility of making benefit claimants attend an intensive two-week training programme.

The programme would take place at local job centres and involve face-to-face sessions designed to prepare the unemployed for a return to work.

The programme is already being piloted in Crawley in West Sussex, Pontefract in West Yorkshire, Partick in Glasgow and Coalville in Leicestershire.

Universal credit claimants could see their standard allowance cut under the plans
Universal credit claimants could see their standard allowance cut under the plans. Picture: Getty

Those who repeatedly refuse to attend the sessions could lose their entire standard allowance, which is worth just under £335 a month, The Times reports.

If plans are approved, the training programme would apply to those who have not been in work for three months.

This is considered the crucial point at which people's chance of returning to employment diminishes.

In a letter to MPs, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said: "Evidence shows that the longer a person is out of work the harder it is for them to return, and it is at this 13-week point that a claimant’s likelihood of securing employment begins to decrease."

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Mel Stride
Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Mel Stride. Picture: Getty

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He added: "This additional jobcentre support will both improve claimants’ prospects of finding more work at a time of cost of living pressures and boost economic growth by helping more people move towards and enter the labour market."

It comes amid plans being considered by Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to introduce job coaches in GP surgeries as part of his attempt to get over-50s back into work.

Mr Hunt previously said he wants to get this age group "off the golf course" to find a second or third career.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has said he will reduce the rate of unemployment.

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt wants to get over-50s back into work
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt wants to get over-50s back into work. Picture: Getty

Britain remains the only major developed country to have suffered a sustained rise in economic inactivity in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

It is believed a rise in the number of people retiring early has been a significant driver in Britain's increasing economic inactivity.

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