Labour to make jobseekers take basic skills test

Kasmira Jefford
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JOBSEEKERS will have to pass a basic skills test and could lose their unemployment benefits, under tough new measures being pledged by Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary today.

In her first major policy speech since taking up the post in October, Rachel Reeves will set out Labour’s latest plans for tackling the cost of living crisis by testing the unemployed for basic maths, English and IT skills within six weeks of claiming Jobseekers Allowance.

Those who fail to meet basic standards needed for a job would have to undergo extra training or risk losing their benefits.

Speaking at the IPPR, Reeves will say: “We all know that basic skills are essential in today’s jobs market, but the shocking levels of English and maths among too many jobseekers are holding them back from getting work.  This traps too many jobseekers in a vicious cycle between low paid work and benefits.

“Government plans in this area just aren’t enough. They’re now asking jobseekers who exit the failed Work Programme to take up literacy and numeracy training, three whole years after those people first make a claim for benefits.”

Reeves will attack “costs of failure” of the Tory-led government and warn that failure to tackle long-term unemployment will hit tax revenues for decades to come.

The proposals come as it emerged yesterday that David Cameron is planning to strip immigrants who cannot speak English of benefits in a bid to cut Britain’s welfare bill.