The unemployed will have to “sign on” at jobcentres twice as often if they want to continue receiving benefits, under cost-cutting plans being considered by the Government.
Research commissioned by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), published last week, concluded that people who were compelled to sign on every week found a job almost six days faster than those who had only to appear at the jobcentre once a fortnight.
A source familiar with the projects, which took place over the course of a year, said the Government was taking the results “very seriously” and that all of the UK’s 1.91 million jobseekers could “potentially” have to sign on once a week in the long term.
Under normal rules, people claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance must appear in person at their jobcentre once a fortnight, with staff reviewing their efforts to find employment and recording their signature.
The weekly signing on trials took place in East London and the West of Scotland in 2012.
The results of the DWP’s pilot trials suggest that the policy would get more people into work faster – but critics of the idea point out that many jobseekers face long journeys in order to sign on. Instead of spending their time going to job interviews or searching for openings, they argue, they will be wasting time and money getting to and from the jobcentre. If the change is rolled out nationally, it will also double the workload of jobcentre staff overnight.
Iain Duncan Smith’s other DWP schemes
Universal Credit, a reform that rolls multiple benefits into one, will be in place nationally by 2016.
A pilot scheme will see benefits prepaid on smartcards so that claimants can spend their dole only on their families, not to “feed their destructive habits”. A Liberal Democrat source warned that would “stigmatise” claimants.
Mr Duncan Smith unveiled the Work Programme in 2011. By November 2014, a parliamentary report said it was failing to assist harder-to-help unemployment benefit claimants to find jobs.