Britain Plans to Require Community Service for Jobless Benefits

01/10/2013 18:52

Source: NY Times

Under the plan, those out of work for more than two years could be required to take on tasks like cooking for the elderly or cleaning up litter to keep their payments. The initiative represents a significant hardening of policy in a country that once considered the idea of “workfare” taboo.

The minister, George Osborne, made his announcement in a speech at the Conservative Party’s annual conference in Manchester. He also said he would try to freeze duties on fuel in an effort to ease the squeeze on incomes still being felt by many Britons, even as the economy is showing signs of a recovery.

He simultaneously outlined a long-term goal of building a budget surplus, suggesting that if the Conservatives win the next general election, due in May 2015, they will keep up the pressure to contain public spending.

Despite clear signs of an economic upturn, Mr. Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, was careful to emphasize that a recovery was not yet secure and that there should be no sense of “a task completed or a victory won.”

His most eye-catching pronouncement was on welfare — the latest such shift from the Conservatives, who head a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats and who have identified such “tough love” policies as popular with the electorate.

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