David and Samantha Cameron join the royal family in Scotland on Saturday: The PM wants to get tougher on welfare

The headline on this article was amended on 5 September. The original referred to “benefits cheats”, which was inaccurate.

“On Sunday the prime minister went further, writing in the Mail on Sunday: “What about welfare? The old something-for-nothing system we had under Labour had a poisonous effect on responsibility in our society. Again, we’ve already taken bold action – we’re in the process of moving hundreds of thousands of people who are fit to work off incapacity benefit and are imposing sensible limits on the amount of benefit people can take. But again, given the scale of the problem, can’t we go further? Say by asking much more of people on benefits who should be looking for work – or imposing even stricter penalties on those who refuse job offers?” “

Whitehall reconsiders tougher benefits rules

PM talks about putting more pressure on the unemployed to look for work and stricter penalties for those that refuse jobs.

The Braemar Highland Games, Braemar, Scotland, Britain - 03 Sep 2011

David and Samantha Cameron join the royal family in Scotland on Saturday. The PM wants to get tougher on welfare. Photograph: Tim Rooke/Rex Features

The Department for Work and Pensions has been forced by the prime minister into reconsidering an idea it had days previously described as “not workable” as Whitehall scrambles for policies to toughen up welfare.

David Cameron wrote in a Sunday newspaper that he wanted to look at going further in welfare reforms, calling for the child benefit payments of parents who play truant from school to be withdrawn.He suggested a more ambitious welfare reform programme when he posed the question of whether the government should be “asking much more of people on benefits who should be looking for work – or imposing even stricter penalties on those who refuse job offers?”

Research has been published by the thinktank Policy Exchange showing that some jobseeker’s allowance claimants spend as little as eight minutes a day searching for work.Ideas pushed by No 10 included measures that would force the unemployed and those claiming jobseeker’s allowance to spend an entire working week in the pursuit of finding a job. But on Friday lunchtime the Department for Work and Pensions said that particular idea had been ruled out as “not workable”. By Friday evening the department was instructed that the idea could be a possible candidate for tightening the welfare regime.A Downing Street source suggested the search for stricter welfare conditionality levers was at an embryonic stage: “We’re in the early stages of considering ideas and we aren’t saying these ideas will definitely happen but we are trying to think how people could be helped into work.”The about-turn reflects the urgency being attached to the government going further and faster on its welfare reform agenda.Treasury officials had also been keen on a suggestion that would see those people without a history of national insurance contributions unable to turn down suggested employment opportunities.

At the moment there is a 13-week grace period in which people can claim jobseeker’s allowance while they attempt to find work suitable to them and can decline Jobcentre offers. Treasury officials had wanted to close this window but a Department for Work and Pensions official said it had beendismissed as “not workable”.

In his speech in his Oxfordshire constituency of Witney in the aftermath of the riots Cameron said he would like to go further on injecting greater conditionality into the benefits system – making more demanding what people have to do in order to receive benefits.On Sunday the prime minister went further, writing in the Mail on Sunday: “What about welfare? The old something-for-nothing system we had under Labour had a poisonous effect on responsibility in our society. Again, we’ve already taken bold action – we’re in the process of moving hundreds of thousands of people who are fit to work off incapacity benefit and are imposing sensible limits on the amount of benefit people can take. But again, given the scale of the problem, can’t we go further? Say by asking much more of people on benefits who should be looking for work – or imposing even stricter penalties on those who refuse job offers?

• The headline on this article was amended on 5 September. The original referred to “benefits cheats”, which was inaccurate.

Comments
  • Barbara Hulme on Facebook September 5, 2011 at 2:57 pm

    Yes I agree it should go further – im wondering if its been changed in the guardians version! gonna have a shufty!

  • Barbara Hulme on Facebook September 5, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    yes the Guardian one has been changed to with a 2 line bit at the end saying its been amended as the term benefit cheats was inaccurate.

  • Barbara Hulme September 5, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Dont know if this article has changed from when I posted on it – but the article I posted on had BT saying that the change in headline terms had not gone far enough ie saying welfare was a slight improvement on benefit cheats but not going as far as saying the unemployed or people who have been made redundant due to the recession. I want to make clear that I was agreeing with BT that the alteration of the term didnt go far enough and certainly do not agree with any tory policies or for that matter labour policies re the welfare state – I have in fact spent all morning e-mailing members of the house of lords to ask them to vote against the welfare proposals. If it is possible for BT to remove the above comments that would be much appreciated as they have been misconstrued. Thank you 😀 xxxx

  • Mike Atkinson on Facebook September 5, 2011 at 6:41 pm

    Quick, someone nuke that area.

  • Barbara Hulme on Facebook September 5, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Ah I presume that my comment has been misconstrued and the person who sent me a private message did not open and read the link on the black triangle website – the article says that the mail has changed the headline to ‘welfare’ rather than benefit cheats and BT then goes on to say that the term welfare would have been better being replaced by the unemployed. My first comment is agreeing with BT that the term should have been replaced by the unemployed not by welfare. The Guardian has also changed its original phrase. Thought Ide best clarify things as I dont like receivng personal, accusatory messages from people I dont know! I think both papers should apologise for their printing of the ‘inaccuracy’ not just amend the headline.

  • Barbara Hulme on Facebook September 5, 2011 at 7:52 pm

    that is not the above comments within the BT quote directly above this but re the ones saying I agree – as it may appear I agree with the tories rather than BT!! Im getting paranoid now!!

  • It must have been missed – but my joke was referring to the Royals in the same breath as welfare – they receive enough of it, don’t you agree? 🙂

  • Barbara Hulme on Facebook September 5, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    I certainly do BT!! they are one household in receipt of welfare who certainly do not need to worry about the ‘reforms’! ;D xxxx

  • LOL! Wish I could charge people to come and have a look ’round my owse! Heheheh 🙂

  • Joe Kane on Facebook September 5, 2011 at 10:10 pm

    Barbara, maybe you know this already, but if you don’t want private messages from people you don’t know, change the settings on your Fb private messaging to only receiving mail from your own Fb friends.

    I was alerted to the fact anyone could send me an Fb private message when I got a charming missive from an edl nut job.

  • Barbara Hulme on Facebook September 5, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    lol!! re nut job!! nightmare!! I didnt know that about messages – thank you – will sort it out!! BT maybe you should try? I remember Mark Thomas doing something re not having to pay landtax if your home is open to the public – wonder if they would stretch that to council tax? you only have to do about 6 days a year to be eligible and you dont have to advertise!! ;D xxxx

  • Joe Kane on Facebook September 5, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    Thanks Barbara.
    Kane Mansions is always looking for new ways to improve its revenue stream.

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