Pre-Budget Statement: Employment: Inquiry into scale of black economy is launched

THE UNEMPLOYED may have to sign on for benefits every day rather than every fortnight in an attempt to stop billions of pounds being lost in fraudulent benefit claims and unpaid taxes, the Chancellor said yesterday.

Gordon Brown said that as the Government extended opportunities to those out of work it also had to make people more responsible in taking up the work on offer and clamp down on the hidden economy.

He said a task force had been set up led by Lord Grabiner QC to bring together different Government departments to investigate the scale of the problem. The task force has been asked to consider increased fines and methods of forcing people to face up to their responsibilities and join the legitimate economy. "This loss of revenues, this incidence of fraud, this waste of resources cannot be allowed to continue and especially when there are jobs benefit claimants could take," said Mr Brown.

He said that a return to full employment was now "not only a promise but a possibility", and announced a multi-million pound drive to boost the number of people in jobs.

This includes an extension of the New Deal jobs scheme to over-25s, who will be offered a job, self-employment, work-based retraining or college training. Under the scheme any person who refuses three job opportunities has their benefits stopped indefinitely.

A spokesman for the Department of Education and Employment said that the same sanctions would apply to the over-25s. "It is the sanctions that have made it so successful in halving youth unemployment," he said.

The Chancellor said there are still a million job vacancies "waiting to be filled", and a national jobs hotline would help update unemployed people about new vacancies.

David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Employment, said that pounds 100m from the windfall levy will be spent on extending the New Deal programme to over-25s, while a further pounds 10m will be used to improve its effectiveness.

Around pounds 50m will be spent at job centres on initiatives including touch- screen kiosks which hold vacancies.

"The Employment Service must improve the ways in which employers can notify their vacancies and make it easier for job seekers to apply for jobs," he said.

The Government will also help the long-term unemployed come off benefits and start up their own businesses with a new Enterprise Development Fund, cash help and new business scholarships.

"Britain will break out of the closed circle which has too often restricted enterprise to a few. Our poor communities do not need more benefit offices, they need more businesses creating more jobs," said Mr Brown.

Small firms will be able to take advantage of a pounds 150m research and development tax credit - "the most generous this country has ever seen".

Mr Brown said that, through regional development agencies and devolved bodies, venture capital firms would be set up in every region.

"Enterprise for all demands balanced economic growth across all the regions and nations of Britain," he said.

"Only by pursuing enterprise and fairness togetherfor all can we equip all of Britain for our future and secure rising living standards for all."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office Administrator

£16000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established managed services IT...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Recruitment Genius: Plant Fitter - Construction Industry

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003