“Our new approach will help claimants get quickly back into the world of work while helping ensure employers get the people they and the economy needs,” Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said in a statement. The opposition Labour Party criticised the plans, saying people should be supported into jobs which matched their skills, as these were more likely to be secure in the long run.
At a time when several industries are experiencing record labour shortages, the British government announced on Thursday that it would tighten criteria for some people claiming unemployment benefits. Position seekers on benefits can currently spend up to three months looking for work that is similar to their prior job, but this will soon be limited to four weeks, according to the Department for Work and Pensions. After four weeks, job seekers must apply for and accept offers for all forms of work, including lower-paying, lower-skilled roles than their previous job, or suffer a reduction in their assistance payments.
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British employers had 1.247 million job vacancies in the three months to December, almost 60% more than before the COVID-19 pandemic. The headline unemployment rate of 4.1% is almost down to its pre-COVID level, although the overall employment rate is still some way below pre-COVID levels as older workers dropped out of the labour market.
The government said it hoped the new measure and other steps would reduce the number of benefit claimants by 500,000 by the end of June. Almost 1.9 million people in December received a welfare benefit which had a job search requirement. A single unemployed adult aged 25 or over receives a monthly benefit payment of 325 pounds ($439). The OECD ranks Britain’s standard unemployment benefits as among the least generous across advanced economies, although this calculation does not include payments towards housing costs. ($1 = 0.7405 pounds)
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