Work Programme to be devolved under Smith Agreement
THE Prime Minister, David Cameron, will today ramp up his ‘welfare reform’ agenda by saying that, if re-elected at the 2015 General Election in May, he will make 18-21 year olds do community work “from day one” of being registered as not being in education, employment or training.
The Tories say it is part of their plan to “abolish” long-term youth unemployment, and believe the new pledge will affect 50,000 18-21 year olds.
Speaking ahead of the announcement, Cameron said: “We want to get rid of that well-worn path from the school gate, down to the Job Centre, and onto a life on benefits.
“For those 18 to 21 year olds who have not been in employment, training or education for six months before they sign on, we are going to take intensive action.”
Cameron has already stated that he will scrap jobseekers’ allowance for 18-21 year olds and replace it with a ‘youth allowance’ for six months. Those still unemployed would have to participate in the ‘Community Work Programme’ to continue receiving benefits.
The Community Work Programme has been widely criticised for undermining paid work and making people work for free, effectively being forced labour. Community work placements include tasks like making meals for the elderly.
Cameron added: “What these young people need is work experience and the order and discipline of turning up for work each day. So a Conservative government would require them to do daily community work from the very start of their claim, as well as searching for work.
“From day one they must realise that welfare is not a one-way street. Yes, we will help them, but there is no more something for nothing. They must give back to their community too.”
The SNP has previously called Cameron’s welfare policies “disastrous”, and in its submission to the Smith Commission on more powers for Scotland it called for full devolution of welfare powers.
The final Smith Agreement agreed to devolve a limited number of welfare powers, one of which is the work programme, which Cameron’s new policy would fall under the jurisdiction.
The Smith Agreement is not set to be fully passed through parliament until later into the next term of the UK Parliament, but Ed Miliband, Labour leader, has stated he would fast-track the devolution of Work Programme powers to the Scottish Parliament.