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British gov't unveils most extensive welfare reforms for over 60 years

11-12-2010 09:09 BJT

LONDON, Nov. 11 (Xinhua) -- The British government on Thursday unveiled the details of one of its flagship policies, the most extensive reform of the country's welfare system since the system came into being during the Second World War.

The reform will also see a strong sanction introduced for benefit claimants who repeatedly refuse to take up jobs offered to them, they could be banned from claiming benefit for three years, and all will have to work for their benefit for up to 30 hours a week, for a month at a time.

According to government figures 5 million people are stuck on out-of-work benefits, with 1.4 million who have been receiving those benefits for nine out of the last 10 years. Britain has one of the highest rates of workless households in Europe, with 1.9 million children living in homes where no-one has a job.

There are 900,000 people who have spent at least 10 years claiming incapacity benefit, paid to people too sick to work through illness or disability.

The man behind the reform, Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, said it would "change Britain for generations, and make sure we have a welfare system fit for the way we live and work today."

The complex system of differing benefits, ranging from payments to long-term unemployed, to housing and sickness benefits, will be simplified into one benefit called a Universal Credit. The task is so large that it will take seven years to fully complete, longer than the lifetime of the present government, but the first claimants will be moved onto the new credit in 2013.


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