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Finance
5 min read

Are Benefits Set To End For Long Term Job Seekers?

Recent data from the ONS shows that over nine million people of working age were classed as economically inactive with around 2.8 million not working due to long term sickness. In a bold move recently, Rishi Sunak, the prime minister announced his plans to cease welfare benefits for those who remain jobless for over a period of twelve months if the Conservatives win the next election.
Written by
Joanna Clare
Content Manager
Published on
May 15, 2024

Recent data from the ONS shows that over nine million people of working age were classed as economically inactive with around 2.8 million not working due to long term sickness. In a bold move recently, Rishi Sunak, the prime minister announced his plans to cease welfare benefits for those who remain jobless for over a period of twelve months if the Conservatives win the next election. He stated ‘unemployment support should be a safety net, never a choice’.This is aimed at tackling long term unemployment as part of the government’s broader strategy to revitalise the UK economy and as you can imagine, this has initiated heavy debate and has sparked both praise and criticism.

Under the proposed policy shift, those who receive unemployment benefits in excess of one year would face termination of their financial support unless they can demonstrate active effort to secure employment or engage in training programmes which will be aimed at enhancing their chances of employability. It emphasised the importance of encouraging individuals to re enter into the workforce and contribute towards the economy rather than relying on prolonged welfare support and becoming dependent upon the benefits system.

Other proposed changes include making the work capability assessment tighter, reviewing the current ‘fit note’ system, changes for those who work less than part time and reviewing the eligibility of PIP claimants as well as introducing a new bill targeting fraud.

The announcement has been met with support from some who argue that by offering incentives to work and therefore reducing dependency on welfare benefits, that this is essential in lessening long term poverty and promoting economic self sufficiency. They assert that the policy change will act as a motivating factor for job seekers to actively seek employment opportunities, acquire new skills and help to create a more dynamic and resilient labour market.

However, some critics have raised concerns about potential consequences of the proposed measure, particularly for those who are classed as more vulnerable members of society and  marginalised communities who are disproportionately affected by additional barriers towards employment.

A major worry is that terminating benefits without addressing underlying issues could exacerbate poverty and deepen social inequality. They say that the policy fails to account for systemic factors that contribute to long term unemployment and emphasise on the importance of comprehensive support measures which include job creation initiatives, investments in education and training as well as up to date social welfare reforms which are specifically designed to address the causes of long term unemployment.

The proposed policy highlights the current government's commitment in prioritising the economy and as the debate unfolds further, the implications of such a reform will be scrutinised even more. It must be advocated that any new measures brought in will balance the need for individual responsibility with ensuring social justice for all members of society, while recognising that the most vulnerable need to be protected.

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