Unemployed 'will have to spend hours finding work'
THOUSANDS of unemployment benefits claimants in Derbyshire will be forced to spend several hours every day job-hunting under new plans announced by the Conservatives.
If claimants fail to demonstrate they are committing adequate time to finding a job, officials monitoring their efforts would be able to ban them from claiming Jobseekers Allowance – for up to three years if they consistently turn down work.
According to the most recent official statistics there are 7,955 people claiming Jobseekers Allowance in Derby and a further 16,371 in Derbyshire that could be affected.
Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith pledged to get the jobless back to work.
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A Conservative spokesman said: "It is fair to the hard-working taxpayer, who is funding the system with the expectation that anybody who is able to work is doing everything possible to find work."
From early next year, a new Jobcentre Plus IT system will be introduced which allows people to search and apply for positions online and staff to monitor their activities.
Claimants may also have to sign on every week, rather than every two weeks, and look for work up to a 90-minute commute away from their home.
The spokesman added the Government would introduce "a clear framework" of sanctions under which the more serious the failure to seek work, the longer they could be banned from claiming.
However, Derby South MP Margaret Beckett said: "When politicians come up with these ideas people that are not themselves out of work might think it sounds reasonable.
"The fundamental problem is that there is not enough employment at the moment. We are in danger of persecuting people rather than helping them get a job."