According to new plans now under consideration by the government, unemployment benefit claimants who do not engage in a new job-training programme risk losing the entirety of their benefits.
As part of the government’s attempts to cut unemployment, ministers are investigating the possibility of requiring welfare recipients to complete a two-week intensive training programme.
The programme would take place at local job centres and comprise of face-to-face sessions designed to help unemployed individuals reenter the workforce.
Currently, the programme is being tested in Crawley, West Sussex, Pontefract, West Yorkshire, Partick, Glasgow, and Coalville, Leicestershire.
The Times reports that people who repeatedly miss meetings might lose their whole £335-per-month basic payment.
If approved, the training programme would be made available to people who have been jobless for three months, as this is regarded to be the point at which a person’s likelihood of recovering employment begins to decline.
In a letter to MPs, Work and Pensions Secretary Mel Stride said: “Evidence shows that the longer a person is out of work the harder it is for them to return, and it is at this 13-week point that a claimant’s likelihood of securing employment begins to decrease.”
He added: “This additional jobcentre support will both improve claimants’ prospects of finding more work at a time of cost of living pressures and boost economic growth by helping more people move towards and enter the labour market.”
The news comes as recent research found that claims of an abundance in available jobs may often be misleading and can depend on where in the country a person lives.
According to statistics, the official jobless rate is 3.7% but the ‘hidden’ unemployment rate is more than three times higher at 12.1%.
The UK’s record-low unemployment numbers do not account for a so-called “hidden army” of more than three million working-aged adults who are regarded as ‘economically inactive’. These are people who are neither in work nor looking for work.
However, research suggests wide regional disparities in the availability of jobs, with a clear and stark divide between the North and South.
According to the thinktank ‘Centre for Cities’, cities in the North and Wales are more likely to have a job shortage, since they account for 16% of job advertisements but 21% of hidden unemployment.
Meanwhile, the opposite is true in cities throughout the rest of the country, and most notably in the South-East of England, which account for 46% of job advertisements but 37% of hidden unemployment.