THE UNEMPLOYED will have to wait a week before claiming their first jobseeker’s allowance payment, under tough new welfare rules announced yesterday.
The rule will apply every time someone leaves the workforce. This means an individual who takes a series of short-term contracts over the course of a year faces being unable to claim state support for several weeks.
George Osborne’s aides said the rule change would ensure the unemployed concentrate on finding a new job before deciding to sign on. The move is expected to save £245m a year.
In addition, there will be a new requirement for jobseekers to attend jobcentres once a week, while those on the dole will be required to have an up-to-date CV and claimants will have to show they either speak English or are learning it.
As a result the government expects it will have to provide English training to around 100,000 people. Treasury aides said this would cost around £1,000 per person – equivalent to a total spend of £1bn. They say this will be part-funded with the money saved by imposing the new seven-day rule, as well as reduced payments by helping people get off state support and into work.
The chancellor also announced a welfare cap on part of the annually managed expenditure budget – the half of government spending that does not go through Whitehall departments.
The cap means that from 2015 the government will be required to use the budget to set a limit on the amount it wants to spend in the next four years on payments such as housing benefit, pensioner benefits and tax credits.
However, this cap excludes the state pension – responsible for the lion’s share of welfare payments – and the only punishment for breaking the cap will be the requirement to explain what has happened to parliament.
“We’ve already capped the benefits of individuals – now we cap the system as a whole,” said Osborne. The new welfare cap is proof that Britain is serious about living within its means.”
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