From education to employment

Welfare to work providers would prepare jobless for employment.

David Cameron has unveiled tough plans to get those on benefits back to work. Under the proposals anyone out of work and claiming Jobseekers Allowance for more than two years would have to embark on community work for a year or face losing benefits.

Drawing on systems from USA and Australia, Tory plans would seek to put an end to the “something for nothing” dole culture. A series of welfare-to-work providers across the country would provide employability skills, preparation for returning to work and community work placements for the unemployed.

Those on Incapacity Benefit would be re-assessed to see if they are able to work. Speaking at the launch of the Green Paper the Conservative leader said: “The most important thing is that those who can work should work and those who cant work should be properly supported by a compassionate society that believes in social justice.”

Private and third sector organisations would run back to work programmes, providing training and skills for those out of work, to help them prepare for employment. Under Tory plans, such organisations would operate on a performance payment basis, the amount of money they receive being dependent on how many people they get back into work.

Government ministers have dismissed the plans as unworkable, saying the figures do not add up. The Chancellor, Alistair Darling, said: “Last autumn, David Cameron said he had to find £3 billion out of his welfare-to-work programme to fund his tax credit proposals.

“He cant do that with what he is proposing. Most of what he is proposing we are doing anyway but somehow he is going to get £3 billion extra.

“He is also making promises where he cant tell us where he is going to get the money from to pay for these programmes in the first place.”

Graham Hoyle, chief executive of the Association of Learning Providers, which represents some 400 training organisations said: “It is encouraging that the Conservatives have set out detailed proposals to tackle one of our biggest challenges, namely reducing the number of claimants of Incapacity Benefit which stands around 2.6 million. ALP will study the proposed measures and looks forward to engaging in a dialogue with the Conservative frontbench about them.

“What was also particularly interesting to us was Peter Hain’s reaction to the proposals, because he took the opportunity again to highlight the importance of skills training as an integral component of securing more sustainable employment for Jobcentre Plus clients. Barely more than twelve months ago, you would never have heard this from a DWP minister even though ALP has long been lobbying for an abandonment of the “work first” approach to welfare to work. But our representations to the Commons select committees and Lord Leitch really hit home and our view on the need for closer integration of employment and skills agendas is now accepted government policy.”

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