Labour defends plans to deprive the long-term unemployed of benefits if they refuse to take job offer
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Friday 04 January 2013
Labour today defended its plans to deprive the long-term unemployed of their benefits if they refuse to take up the offer of a “guaranteed” job.
Liam Byrne, the shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, said: “For some people, I accept that will be a culture shock, but for many more it will be a lifeline.” He added: “the best way to bring the welfare budget down, is to push people into work.”
Under the proposal, likely to feature in the party’s manifesto at the next election, a Labour Government would guarantee six months’ work to the 130,000 adults over 25 who have been unemployed for two years or more. They would be paid at least the minimum wage for 25 hours a week, leaving them time for training and searching for a permanent job.
The £1bn cost would be raised by cutting the tax relief on pension contributions for people earning more than £150,000 a year from 45 per cent to 20 per cent.
Labour’s “compulsory jobs guarantee” is designed to show the party is keen to tackle unemployment and is not “soft” on welfare claimants, as the Conservatives claim. Its policy was announced ahead of a crucial Commons vote next Tuesday on George Osborne’s plan to impose a one per cent cap on rises in most benefits and tax credits for the next three years. Labour will vote against the move.
Ed Balls, the shadow Chancellor, said: “A One Nation approach to welfare reform means government has a responsibility to help people into work and support those who cannot, but those who can work must be required to take up jobs or lose benefits as a result – no ifs or buts. Britain needs real welfare reform that is tough, fair and that works, not divisive, nasty and misleading smears from an out of touch and failing government.”
The Coalition Government has already announced plans to cut the amount that high earners can put into a pension and attract tax relief from £50,000 to £40,000 a year. Conservatives accused Labour of allocating money Mr Balls had previously earmarked for reversing cuts to tax credits. A Treasury aide said: “Ed Balls is trying to spend the same money twice. That means more borrowing and more debt - exactly how Labour got us into this mess in the first place. Labour have learnt nothing from their mistakes.”
- 1 Malaysia issues arrest warrant for Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law after she publishes stories on leader Najib Razak's financial affairs
- 2 Porn block in India: hundreds of sexual websites banned, internet outraged
- 3 Natalia Molchanova: World's most successful free-driver is missing and feared dead after disappearing in Mediterranean
- 4 Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
- 5 Gamers confess the worst things they've done in The Sims
Jackie Chan in second place in Forbes' Highest Paid Actors list after magazine includes actors working outside US movie industry
Malaysia issues arrest warrant for Gordon Brown’s sister-in-law after she publishes stories on leader Najib Razak's financial affairs
Natalia Molchanova: World's most successful free-driver is missing and feared dead after disappearing in Mediterranean
Giant Minion terrorises drivers in Ireland as 40ft inflatable blocks traffic on Dublin road
Dutch King Willem-Alexander declares the end of the welfare state
Is Britain really full up? Are migrants taking our jobs? Leading academic answers the most common anti-immigration claims
Calais Migrant Crisis: Deputy Mayor of Calais labels Cameron's use of 'swarm' as 'racist' and 'ignorant'
Chris Leslie: Jeremy Corbyn's anti-austerity agenda will harm the poor, says Labour shadow Chancellor
Landlords renting properties to illegal immigrants to face up to five years in prison
While we fixate on Calais, the Home Office is quietly deporting dozens of migrants on 'ghost flights'
Labour leadership race: Jeremy Corbyn could be the next Prime Minister, says Ken Clarke
£35 - 38k + Benefits & Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking an Account Manager ...
£350 p/d (Contract): Guru Careers: A Software Developer / Web Developer (PHP /...
£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A qualified electrician require...
£14000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...