Five questions answered on new plans for the unemployed

What does it involve?

Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, has today unveiled new plans to tackle those who are long-term unemployed. We answer five questions on the Chancellors new regime.  

So, what is Osborne planning to do with people who are considered ‘long-term unemployed’?

Osborne has said, by April, those who have not found work after two years on the existing work programme, welfare-to-work, where contractors are paid a fee to get people into a job, they will face a new scheme called help-to-work, which will last until the person has found a job.

What does the scheme involve exactly?

As part of this scheme, if the person wants to still receive benefits they must agree to work placements, such as cleaning up litter; daily visits to a job centre; or taking part in compulsory training, for example, to improve their literacy.

What happens if someone breaches these new rules?

They will lose four weeks’ worth of benefits. If broken a second time they could lose three months’ worth of benefits.

What else has Osborne said?

Ahead of his speech Osborne said: "We are saying there is no option of doing nothing for your benefits, no something for nothing any more. People are going to have to do things to get their dole and that is going to help them into work."

"There needs to be a bit of tough love... to fix the problem of endemic worklessness"

He added: "They will do useful work to put something back into their community; making meals for the elderly, clearing up litter, working for a local charity.

"Others will be made to attend the job centre every working day. And for those with underlying problems, like drug addiction and illiteracy, there will be an intensive regime of help.

"No-one will be ignored or left without help. But no-one will get something for nothing."

What has the opposition said?

Shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, Rachel Reeves, is quoted by the BBC as saying it had "taken three wasted years of rising long-term unemployment and a failed work programme to come up with this new scheme".

"But this policy is not as ambitious as Labour's compulsory jobs guarantee, which would ensure there is a paid job for every young person out of work for over 12 months and every adult unemployed for more than two years," she added.

Photograph: Getty Images

Heidi Vella is a features writer for

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