`Get on the Web and look for work' says Chancellor

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The Independent Online
FORGET THE bicycle, Britain's unemployed will be told by the Government today to "Get on the Web and look for work."

Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, will launch a high-tech, pounds 18m scheme to link workers without jobs to employers with vacancies over the Internet.

In an echo of Norman Tebbit's command to the jobless in 1981 to get on their bike and look for work, the Chancellor will issue a toughly-worded warning to the jobless. "There can be no excuse for staying at home on benefit and not taking jobs on offer," he will say at the launch of the scheme in Brixton, south London, where one in 10 claim benefit.

The scheme will allow job seekers to browse the Internet through terminals in Job Centres, on personal computers in their home, local library and community centre or via a "jobs channel" on digital television.

"Since May 1997 over 400,000 jobs have been created and unemployment is now the lowest for 20 years," the Chancellor will say. "But the jobs market must work better. The next step is to improve the links between the jobs that need workers to the workers that need jobs."

The launch will mark the start of the roll-out of the Chancellor's mission to modernise the UK's labour market. Tomorrow he will launch the Working Families Tax Credit (WFTC), a scheme to replace the Family Credit benefit for working families with a tax credit paid through the wage packet.

The initiative, which aims to help around 400,000 extra working families, is part of the Chancellor's ambition to lift 1.25 million out of poverty including 700,000 children.

It takes effect on 5 October and aims to make it worthwhile for the unemployed to seek work by ending the so-called poverty trap whereby those who return to work find themselves worse off than on benefit.

However, the scheme has run into opposition from business organisations who claim paying the credit through the pay roll will effectively turn the employer into a benefit office.

Mark Sharman, principal policy adviser at the British Chambers of Commerce, said: "It won't work if the burden on a business grows to the extent that it become a disincentive to employment."