Chancellor George Osborne
Those who have been jobless for two years on the government’s existing Work Programme, where private companies are paid a fee to get people back into employment, will enter a new scheme called Help to Work.
To keep their jobseeker’s allowance, claimants will either have to go through work placements, such as litter picking, daily visits to a Job Centre or take part in compulsory training such as literacy courses.
The first time they do not comply, they could lose four weeks of benefits and a second time would incur a loss of three months.
UKIP county councillor for Swale West, Mike Baldock, is in favour, but says the placements should not be something someone would be employed to do.
He said: “There should be some pride in making an old person’s garden look decent again, as long as it’s not in a punitive way.”
He called the government’s Work Programme, introduced two years ago, “a bit of a farce”.
He believes agencies which take on long-term unemployed claimants from Job Centres, after about a year, often focus on the “easier” cases and “don’t bother” pushing those in greater need.
Tory MP Gordon Henderson was in favour of the policy in principle, but said “the devil is in the detail” and would reserve judgement for more details.
He said: “In my experience most people who are unemployed are keen to get back to work.
“There is no doubt that a minority simply prefer to sit at home drawing benefits, and this scheme, if operated properly, could be a useful tool.”
Labour’s Angela Harrison, borough and county councillor for Sheerness, says the plans are “another gimmick”.
She said: “What they are saying is these people don’t want to get a job and I would challenge that.
“More people who have worked their whole lives have lost their jobs and they are being made to feel like they are scroungers.
“They have been paying contributions for 30 to 40 years.”