Conservatives in UK Want Jobseekers to Work Harder

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From The Guardian (UK) — Jobseekers will have to do more to prove they are seeking work or face losing benefits in measures likely to be announced at the Conservative party conference.

At present jobseekers have to satisfy two criteria: putting together a CV and seeking information about a job, which ministers believe are not enough.

The centre-right thinktank Policy Exchange has produced research that showed the amount of time spent searching for a job is an average of eight minutes a day. Polling showed nearly half the public thought claimants should spend two to five hours a day looking for work.

UK ParliamentPolicy Exchange’s latest report – the third in a series on welfare reform – found the current “job-search” requirements for some claimants were so “weak” that in some cases, looking in a newspaper for jobs counted as active searching. Officials at the Department for Work and Pensions have held concerns about committing to any beefed up demands on jobseekers, believing the cost of monitoring any new scheme could be counter productive.

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From the Policy Exchange press release summarizing its proposals:

“The report – Something for nothing: reinstating conditionality for jobseekers – is the third in a series of papers Policy Exchange is publishing on welfare reform. It argues that the welfare system is unfair to both those on benefits who are doing all they can to find work and to the taxpayer, especially low income workers.

Recent polling carried out by Policy Exchange showed that nearly half of the public thought that claimants should be spending between 2-5 hours a day looking for work.
The paper calls for a new points based system that recognises different ‘job-search’ activities that those on Jobseekers Allowance are required to carry out each week. ‘Attending a job interview’, which is currently not a recognised job seeking activity, would earn you a greater number of points than ‘putting together a CV’ or ‘seeking information about a job’. Claimants would have to reach a specific number of points each week to receive their benefits. If they failed to reach the minimum target benefits would be withheld.

Other recommendations in the report include:

    Diverting people from claiming in the first place. The report recommends requiring potential


    claimants to demonstrate that they have been searching for work for two weeks before they are eligible for benefit. Currently, benefit can be paid without the claimant having shown that they have attempted to find work.
    The twelve week window in which claimants are able to turn down ‘non preferred’ jobs would only be available to those with a history of contributions (eg national insurance and tax history).
    The three month window would be abolished for those who do not have a work history strong enough to have built a contribution record.

Matthew Oakley, author of the report and head of Policy Exchange’s economics and social policy
unit, said, “The welfare system is letting down those in genuine need. People who are able to work
and are claiming benefits should be doing all they can to find work. Many people are fulfilling this
responsibility and trying hard to find work, it is only fair that the system clamps down on those who
are not trying as hard as they can to get a job.

“Most employees are obliged to work full time at the tasks set by their employers to support
themselves financially. If they don’t they are liable to be sacked and lose their income. Jobseekers
should be similarly obliged to work full time at fulfilling the obligations attached to their benefit
receipt. If they don’t then those benefits should be withdrawn.”

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