Labour defends plans to deprive the long-term unemployed of benefits if they refuse to take job offer

 

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.”

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
  • Get to the point
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

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: Customer Account Manager

£27000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing cloud based I...

Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager - Software & Services

£35000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Product Marketing Manager...

Recruitment Genius: Exhibition Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An expanding B2B exhibition and...

Recruitment Genius: QA Technician

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer of re...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat