Long-term unemployed may be forced to work for free

Those who have been without a job for at least two years will have to enroll on "Help to Work" scheme or face reduced jobless benefits.

Work & Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has declared that every capable person should be given support as well as opportunity to do work.

Under the new scheme, all participants will have to go to the job centre on a daily basis, where some of them will be given community work placements and others will get intensive coaching. The community work placements will include tasks like gardening and cleaning war memorials.

Those who will fail to sign on every day or perform given community work for up to six months for thirty hours a week could lose benefits for four weeks.

Speaking about the new scheme, Mr. Smith said, "Everyone with the ability to work should be given the support and opportunity to do so. The previous system wrote too many people off, which was a huge waste of potential for those individuals as well as for their families and the country as a whole."

However, charities like Oxfam and the Salvation Army have criticized the new scheme, and declared that they will refuse to co-operate. Daniel O'Driscoll, of Oxfam, argued that the scheme involved forced volunteering, which would undercut people's belief in the true value of genuine voluntary work.

The TUC said the new rules could discourage the needy from claiming benefits. But, the Department for Work & Pensions has said that there was no indication that people would be put off claiming.