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Strengthening requirements on benefit claimants to look for a job is the most cost effective way of reducing unemployment and cutting the welfare bill. A new report by leading think tank, Policy Exchange, says that the current ‘job-search’ requirements for some claimants are so weak that simply inquiring about a job, rather than applying, would count towards the two activities a week claimants have to undertake

In some cases such simple activities as looking in a newspaper for jobs or even having a haircut can count. This has led to a situation where jobseekers in the UK spend an average of just eight minutes a day looking for jobs.

New conditions need to be introduced to ensure that claimants are doing all they can to find work and more effective sanctions should be applied to claimants who fail to meet those conditions.

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.”

Source: Policy Exchange

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Written by Scott Buckler   
Thursday, 29 September 2011 09:32
Last Updated on Friday, 30 September 2011 09:03

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