£1 an hour compulsory community placements for the unemployed
By Simon Walters
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The feckless unemployed will be forced to take part in a punishing U.S.-style ‘workfare’ scheme involving gardening, clearing litter and other menial tasks for just £1 an hour in a new crackdown on scroungers.
And if they fail to turn up on time or work hard they will be stripped of their dole for three months.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith will tomorrow unveil ‘compulsory community placements’ in an attempt to stop people living on benefits for years without bothering to look for work.
The ‘Workfare UK’ project will be targeted at tens of thousands of people suspected of sabotaging attempts to make them work.
But Labour MPs condemned the scheme. One said: ‘This sounds like slave labour.’
Under Mr Duncan Smith’s anti-scroungers blueprint, employment office chiefs will be given the power to order the long-term jobless to take part in four-week mandatory work schemes.
Instead of receiving their usual £65-a-week Jobseeker’s Allowance for sitting at home doing nothing, they will get substantially less – and will have to clock on and off on time and work flat out.
The Government has not decided how much people on ‘community placements’ will be paid but it is understood the figure will be between £30 and £40 a week – the equivalent to £1 an hour, one sixth of the minimum wage.
They will also be expected to look for a ‘proper job’ for when they complete the scheme. Each participant will be expected to spend at least 30 hours a week on their specified ‘work activity placement’.
The projects will involve all kinds of work, from gardening to clearing litter, repairing vandalised bus stops and buildings and street cleaning.
There are an estimated five million people stuck on various kinds of out-of-work benefits in the UK. Britain now has one of the highest rates of workless households in Europe, with 1.9 million children living in homes where no one has a job.
The proposals are part of a Government White Paper on welfare reform which will herald a bonfire of dozens of complex benefits, to be replaced by a more straightforward single Universal Credit.