The Government is considering plans under which people who have been unemployed for more than two years could be referred on to compulsory community work placements, it has been announced.
Employment Minister Chris Grayling said that under the proposals, people who have been supported "intensively" through the Work Programme for two years but still had not got a sustainable job, may have to do community work or they could lose their benefit entitlement.
Ministers said they believed a minority of jobseekers struggled to "engage fully" with the system, were unable to hold down a job and so needed a greater level of support.
Compulsory community work coupled with more intensive support through Jobcentre Plus will be tested in parts of the country before the scheme is rolled out nationwide in 2013.
Mr Grayling said: "We want a welfare state which is a ladder up which people climb not a place in which they live.
"If people who are fit for employment still haven't managed to find a job after the intensive support provided by the Work Programme, we want them to do community work and get into the habit and routine of work. No one should expect to be able to sit at home doing nothing."
Prime Minister David Cameron told a meeting of the Commons Liaison Committee: "Today we are announcing that if you go through the work programme but still don't find work, then we are actually going to be asking people to go through a community work programme where they work 30 hours a week for 26 weeks to contribute to their community.
"That will help many people to get back in touch with the world of work, the idea of having a job, the skills that you need that will give them further help in order to get back into work."
© 2011 Press Association