'Work search' plan for jobseekers


George OsborneThe Chancellor announced a further £350 million of savings from the welfare budget and fresh moves aimed at helping jobseekers find work, including a requirement for people to speak English.

George Osborne said the running costs of the Department for Work and Pensions will be cut by 9.5%, adding to a series of measures which had already led to huge savings.

A new "upfront work search" scheme will be launched, under which jobseekers will have to turn up with a CV and "start looking for work." He said: "We're going to make sure people turn up with a CV, register for online job search, and start looking for work - and only then will they get their benefits.

"Thanks to this government, lone parents out of work can now get free childcare for their three and four-year-olds. So it is reasonable to ask that they start regularly attending jobcentres and preparing to return to work.
"Half of all jobseekers need more help looking for work, so we'll require them to come to the jobcentre every week rather than once a fortnight. We're going to give people more time with jobcentre advisors and proper progress reviews every three months, and we're going to introduce a new seven day wait before people can claim benefits.

"Those first few days should be spent looking for work, not looking to sign on. We're doing these things because we know they help people stay off benefits and help those on benefits get back into work faster."

Mr Osborne announced that if claimants don't speak English, they will have to attend language courses until they do. "This is a reasonable requirement in this country. It will help people find work. But if you're not prepared to learn English, your benefits will be cut."

Under the welfare changes affecting jobseekers, claimants will have longer initial interviews with jobcentre advisers and will be asked to write a CV as soon as they apply for benefits. As well as weekly rather than fortnightly visits to jobcentres, an in-depth progress review will be held every three months. All unemployed claimants will also have to wait for seven days before becoming eligible for financial support.

"This is another part of the 'work first' approach, sending the message from the very start that rights to benefits are conditional on the requirement to search for work," said a Treasury document.

Claimants whose poor spoken English is a barrier to work will be required to improve their language skills and attend a course or risk benefit sanctions. Lone parents will be required to prepare for work once their youngest child is three, including regular attendance at jobcentres. The reforms, being phased in from next April, will deliver £350 million in annual savings which will be re-invested in helping to get claimants back into work.