Jobless told to learn skills or lose benefits
Benefits claimants in an area of Glasgow are taking part in a trial that will mean they risk losing their payments unless they sign up for an intensive return-to-work programme.
It aims to tackle the problem of benefits dependency and encourage more claimants into the workforce at a time of severe labour shortages.
Partick in Glasgow is one of four areas across the UK where universal credit claimants will attend a two-week programme of daily face-to-face appointments at Jobcentres.
The programme applies to those who have been out of work for three months, after which the chances of getting work becomes more difficult.
The current pilot areas are Crawley in West Sussex, Pontefract in West Yorkshire, Partick in Glasgow and Coalville in Leicestershire.
Mel Stride, the work and pensions secretary, 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.”
In September, the former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng unveiled a welfare-to-work programme as a key part of Liz Truss’s plan to boost economic growth and shake-up the welfare system.
He announced changes to Universal Credit requiring benefit claimants working up to 15 hours a week at National Living Wage to meet regularly with their Work Coach “to take active steps to increase their earnings or face having their benefits reduced”.
The Treasury says rising economic inactivity in the over-50s is contributing to shortages in the jobs market, driving up inflation and limiting growth. Returning to pre-pandemic activity rates in the over-50s could boost the level of GDP by up to 1 percentage point.
More than 1.2 million people are unemployed in the UK, while a further nine million are neither in a job nor looking for one. The government believes that the scheme could form part of a “carrot and stick” approach to encourage people back into work.