Labour calls for benefits to be linked to skills

Unemployed people who lack basic skills should be denied access to benefits unless they take up training, according to the opposition Labour party. The proposal was made by Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary, Rachel Reeves, in her first major speech since taking up her new post.
 
Under the plans, all new claimants of jobseeker's allowance would have to sit a basic skills test within six weeks. Those who were deemed to lack basic skills in English, maths and computing would be required to take up part-time training or lose their benefits. Labour estimates this would affect around 25,000 people a month.
 
Reeves said: 'We all know that basic skills are essential in today's jobs market, but the shocking levels of English and maths among too many jobseekers are holding them back from getting work. This traps too many jobseekers in a vicious cycle between low-paid work and benefits'.
 
Reeves also addressed the issue of long-term workers who lose their jobs, who she said 'feel the social security system offers little for them when they need it'. She said: 'we also need to look at how we can better reflect records of contribution in the benefits people are entitled to'.
 
Source: Speech by Rachel Reeves MP (Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary) 20 January 2014
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Publication date: 
Jan 20 2014