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Bob Moon: The British government has unveiled the most radical shake-up of the welfare state since the 1940s: Welfare recipients who refuse to take a job will lose their benefits. The government says the reform will ensure that people will always be better off in work than on welfare. The measures aren’t just about saving money; they’re also designed to tackle the so-called “entitlement culture.”
From London, Marketplace’s Stephen Beard reports.
Stephen Beard: Britain’s Work and Pensions Minister Ian Duncan-Smith says that too many people here live on benefits as a lifestyle choice and that’s got to stop.
Ian Duncan-Smith: Under this government, choosing not to work if you can work, is no longer an option.
Any able-bodied person who turns down work may lose their benefits for up to three years. But says Duncan-Smith, he’ll also ensure that nobody loses out because they’ve taken a job.
Duncan-SmithWe will make work pay and support you through that work program that we are creating.
Welfare will be less attractive. Claimants will have do unpaid, community work. The Opposition Labour Party has attacked the plan. Spokesman Douglas Alexander says it will fail, because there are two million unemployed in Britain, and a further 600,000 jobs could soon go due to other government spending cuts.
Douglas Alexander: Without work, this approach won’t work. There are five claimants looking for every single vacancy in the job market at the moment.
But the move has been welcomed by Mark Littlewood of the free market Institute for Economic Affairs. He says the plan draws inspiration from the U.S.
Mark Littlewood: Some of the efforts that have made in welfare reform in America, particularly in the state of Wisconsin, have shown remarkable results by actually making sure that there is both a carrot and stick approach to people who are on welfare rolls.
But he concedes that Britain is more heavily dependent on welfare than America. Weaning British claimants off their benefits will be more painful.
In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.
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