New benefits crackdown on long term unemployed to be announced

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As the Conservative party conference gets under way in Manchester and the Chancellor due to address the Tory faithful, the next headline proposal is set to be a further crackdown on welfare recipients.

George Osborne is set to announce a nationwide scheme that will oblige 200,000 long-term unemployed benefit claimants to either do community work, attend a jobcentre daily or go on a full-time intensive programme. The new system will effectively end the practice of ‘signing on’ and receiving a payment

With polling suggesting that the economic squeeze has seen voters largely agree with the Tory ‘dog whistle’ of cracking down ever further on a marginalised underclass, the Chancellor feels that this can’t fail to be a popular policy. With Ed Miliband seemingly ‘moving to the left’ in his conference speech last week, it seems that the Conservatives feel that coming down heavily on benefit claimants in the name of ‘hard working families’ will prove effective.

"For the first time, all long-term unemployed people who are capable of work will be required to do something in return for their benefits to help them find work," Osborne will say, adding: "But no one will get something for nothing. Help to work – and in return work for the dole."

With a new book describing Osborne’s view of Iain Duncan Smith as being ‘too thick to be in cabinet’, the Chancellor will be making the announcement personally

The scheme will be targeted at those who have been on the Work Programme for two years and may have a number of unintended consequences – not least the usurpation of public sector jobs by ‘volunteers’.

The 200,000 people who have still not found work after two years will be placed on one of three tracks. A third will do community work placements; a third will attend a DWP jobcentre every day rather than every fortnight; and a third will be placed on a "mandatory intervention regime" to tackle claimants' underlying problems.

Those seen not to be ‘co-operating’ will face major sanctions in real financial terms and potentially lose their benefits altogether. The question is - what happens to them then?

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