Tens of thousands of British job-seekers will have to choose to either forfeit their benefits or work without pay on community projects, according to The Daily Mail.
Nearly 40,000 claimants will be placed into the work-for-welfare program, designed by the government agency Jobcentre Plus, to weed out the thousands of people suspected of playing the system. Eighteen thousand have already participated in the program, working 30 hours a week in one-month placements.
Those who refuse the placements will forfeit their unemployment checks, which can be up to $110 a week.
“We’ll be giving more details of our plans next month,” Employment Minister Chris Grayling told The Daily Mail. “But this is definitely a scheme that has proven to be effective and has been seen by Jobcentre Plus staff as a really important way of helping problem job-seekers.”
The Jobcentre staff “will especially be focusing on people who have shown a reluctance to look for jobs,” another source told The Daily Mail.
The Department for Work and Pensions insists the program will not take away paid jobs from the economy, because participants in the program will only be offered jobs that are already unpaid positions.
Some of the placements include painting schools, cleaning up parks, working in charity shops and picking up litter.
The participants are reimbursed for their childcare and transportation costs, and collaborating organizations will be paid for creating the temporary positions.
Claimants that refuse to participate, drop out or are let go because of bad behavior can lose their benefits for up to 13 weeks on the first breach. A second breach would cost them up to six months without benefits.
According to The Daily Mail, a study showed that one in five claimants referred for the work program opted out of benefits immediately.
One in three lost their benefits after failing to attend their placement.