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'Work for benefits' scheme questioned by Catholic social action charity

Chancellor George Osborne wants the option of signing on as usual to disappear and has set out plans to crack down on what he calls the "something for nothing" culture. At the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, Mr Osborne outlined plans to make the long-term jobless "work for the dole".

From April, people without work after two years on the coalition's Work Programme will face three options if they want to remain on Job Seekers' Allowance.

They will either have to do community work such as litter picking, cook meals for the elderly, clean graffiti, visit a job centre every day, or take part in compulsory training to tackle problems like illiteracy. Those who break the rules of the new Help-to-Work scheme could lose their benefit for four weeks. A second offence would see them lose it for three months. Mr Osborne told delegates he intends to get tough on those who refuse to work and it's about creating a working mentality.

He said:

"We're going to be very careful about working out what is best for each person but we've got to have a welfare system that is fair to those who are on welfare and need help but also to those who pay for it.

"This is all about making sure that people are ready to work and after all these are people who have been unemployed for more than three years so that's absolutely really important for them as well as for our country."

Liam Allmark from Caritas Social Action Network (CSAN) is at the conference in Manchester.

He told Premier's Des Busteed during the News Hour that people have to be careful not to reinforce negative stereotypes about those who cannot find work:

Mr Osborne also announced today that he hoped to freeze fuel duty until 2015, if the money is available.

He said:

"Conservatives don't just talk about being on the side of hard-working people. We show it day in day out in the policies we deliver.

"Let us learn from the mistakes that got Britain into this mess. 

"Let us vow: never again. This time we are going to run a surplus, this time we are going to fix the roof when the sun shines."

The declaration follows the announcement about the "Help to Buy" scheme which will begin immediately instead of in January as planned. It will allow people across the UK to take out 95% mortgages.

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