Jobless who lack maths and English skills will have their benefits cut

Click to follow
Indy Politics

Unemployed people with poor English and mathematics are to be forced to take courses to improve their skills or risk having their benefits cut.

Unemployed people with poor English and mathematics are to be forced to take courses to improve their skills or risk having their benefits cut.

All benefits claimants - including the disabled and single mothers - are to be "screened" for basic numeracy and literacy from April in a government plan to improve employability.

But the unemployed in test areas will be singled out for compulsory courses if they are found to be unable to express themselves properly or read and write. They will have their benefits reduced if they fail to complete training. The move is likely to be seen as an attempt to tackle Britain's "yob culture" and high levels of illiteracy among the unemployed which makes many ill-equipped for work. Employers have complained that school leavers cannot express themselves properly or write fluent English.

The courses are likely to teach people the difference between standard English and slang and how to write a letter, fill in a form, reply in a job interview and hold a telephone conversation, using full sentences, with an employer. The Department for Work and Pensions believes the project will break down one of the main barriers to the unemployed getting work and will also identify and help hundreds of people who have never learnt to read and write.

In a government advertising campaign to encourage people who cannot read to seek expert help, a gremlin taunts the illiterate and urges them to give up hope of improving themselves.

Under the new scheme, all benefits claimants will be assessed from April, and those who undertake the training will be paid a cash incentive on top of their benefits. But in a dozen pilot areas, including South London and Kent, job-seekers found to lack basic skills will have to take courses in a compulsory scheme expected to be rolled out across the country.

A spokesman for the department said yesterday: "To encourage people to take this up if they undertake the training they get £10 a week on top of their benefits and £100 when they achieve the qualification. We will also be making claimants in 12 pilot districts complete compulsory basic skills training. They will be sanctioned if they do not complete the training we think they need to undertake to get them ready for work."

Comments