Labour Party hardens its position on unemployment benefit

Shadow Labour ministers argue that the party would withdraw benefit from the unemployed for six months if they refused a government-provided job guarantee. The proposal comes in a pamphlet by the Shadow Employment Minister Stephen Timms, backed by a speech by Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne.

The proposal hardens the party’s position on welfare. Byrne said: ‘The right to work must carry with it a responsibility to work.’ He added, ‘We don’t think that if you can work, you should be allowed to live a life on benefits.’

In his pamphlet, Job Guarantee: A Right and Responsibility to Work, published by the left-of-centre think tank, The Smith Institute, Timms proposes that anyone coming to the end of their work programme attachment, and who had not been successfully placed into employment, would receive an offer – a job guarantee. There would be benefit sanctions if someone refused all the options offered.

He writes: ‘We need to instill a culture of work in every community in the country. Our view is that people in receipt of benefits have a responsibility to work hard to find a job, and to take up the opportunity of work when it is offered. We will be tough on those who seek to shirk their responsibility.’

The pamphlet, Job Guarantee: A Right and Responsibility to Work, can be found on the Smith Institute website.

Liam Byrne’s speech, ‘New Foundations for a New Beveridge: The Right and Responsibility to Work’, can be found on the Labour Party website.