A Conservative government will tear up the old ways of dealing with worklessness, which has got worse under Labour.
David Cameron will pledge to introduce a new welfare contract by the end of 2010 – a single comprehensive Work Programme offering unprecedented support for those looking for work, combined with new sanctions for anyone who refuses to work.
Welcoming the announcement, Mark Reckless said:
“Again and again on the doorstep I hear complaints, from those who work hard and are just above the level at which they might get welfare payments. They complain that neighbours who could work are just allowed to carry on indefinitely living on benefits. I know those who work hard to support, not just their families, but neighbours who could work yet live on benefits, will support David Cameron taking the lead to change our welfare system.”
The new welfare contract will draw on the principles of the Big Society, backing people who do the right thing but ending the free ride for those who fail to take responsibility. The new sanctions will be introduced within six months of a Conservative Government taking office.
Speaking this afternoon, David Cameron will say “the old way” of big government has failed. “It’s time to tackle welfare dependency a new way – the Big Society way.”
“We’re going to change the whole way welfare is done in this country so everyone takes responsibility and plays their part. This is our new welfare contract: do the right thing and we will back you all the way. But fail to take responsibility – and the free ride is over.”
As part of our Work Programme, we will offer unprecedented support to all those who are looking for work. We will:
- make sure you get help as soon as you need it – straight away for those really struggling to find work, and after six months if you’re less than 25 years old;
- help you start your own business by giving you access to a business mentor and start-up loans;
- create a range of business-led training places to get you started on the road to employment, with 50,000 places in the hospitality and leisure industry to begin with;
- give you somewhere to go during the day – Work Clubs – so you can learn skills, find opportunities, make useful contacts and provide other people with support;
- if you’re under the age of 25, provide a huge range of extra training opportunities – 400,000 apprenticeship, training and college places over two years;
- and, pay back-to-work providers in full only if they get you into work for a year or more.
If you can’t work and need to be paid Incapacity Benefit (IB) then we will give you the financial support to which you are entitled. And if you can work, and you actively look for work, we will give you unprecedented help to find a good job.
But you must keep to your side of the bargain. We will make sure that you are claiming the right benefits and, within six months of taking office, we will introduce new sanctions for anyone who refuses to look for work. We will:
- cut the benefits of anyone on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) who refuses to join the Work Programme;
- cut the benefits of anyone who refuses to take up reasonable job offers: the first time for one month; the second time for three months; and, the third time for up to three years;
- cut benefits for up to three years for anyone caught repeatedly committing benefit fraud.
reassess all current claimants of IB – if you are fit for work then you will be transferred onto JSA and your benefits will be reduced; and,
- require long-term benefit claimants who fail to find work to ‘work for the dole’ on community work programmes.
You can download a copy of the Welfare Contract here.