BENEFITS claimants who “choose to coast” face losing their hand-outs under a radical shake-up, Jeremy Hunt has warned.
The Chancellor vows fit and able Brits who refuse to take up work will be hit with financial sanctions like – refusing to let taxpayers being taken for a ride.
Mr Hunt insists there must be fairness for hard-working taxpayers and anyone shirking employment must face the consequences.
The tough new plan comes ahead of next Wednesday’s Autumn Statement as part of a major back to work drive with a record high 2.6 million people long-term sick.
Mr Hunt said: “We’re serious about growing our economy and that means we must address the rise in people who aren’t looking for work – especially because we know so many of them want to and with almost a million vacancies in the jobs market the opportunities are there.
“These changes mean there’s help and support for everyone – but for those who refuse it, there are consequences too. Anyone choosing to coast on the hard work of taxpayers will lose their benefits.”
Sanctions will see the worst-offending claimants lose parts of their benefits.
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New rules are being drawn up as part of the Autumn Statement with free prescriptions and legal aid being cut off as part of the crackdown if you’ve not turned up for work appointments or interviews.
Digital technology will be used to track claimants' attendance at job fairs and interviews as part of the beefed-up regime.
The Chancellor said the changes are the biggest set of welfare reforms since the introduction of Universal Credit back in 2012.
Reforms also mean that no claimant should hit 18 months out of work on full benefits if they’ve not taken all reasonable steps to comply with Jobcentre demands.
Speaking to The Sun, the Chancellor said the changes mean a new “social contract” between the strivers and those out of work.
He said the system needs to be “rebalanced” in favour of taxpayers funding the benefits demanding something in return.
The changes, which will kick in next year, are part of an overall £2.5 billion plan aiming to help more than 1 million look for work and stay there.
This includes help for people with long-term health conditions who are able to work from home. Figures show 20 per cent of people who are long-term sick or disabled want to work.
Welfare Secretary Mel Stride said: “We are rolling out the next generation of welfare reforms to help more people start, stay and succeed in work. We know the positive impact work can have, not just on our finances, but our health and wellbeing too.
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“So we are expanding the voluntary support for people with health conditions and disabilities, including our flagship Universal Support programme.
“But our message is clear: if you are fit, if you refuse to work, if you are taking taxpayers for a ride – we will take your benefits away.”
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