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Tories get tough on unemployed

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Tough new US-style welfare reform proposals unveiled by the Conservatives have been slammed by a leading child poverty group.

The Conservatives propose a "three strikes and you're out" rule for benefit claimants who reject jobs and reviews in an attempt to get the 2.6 million incapacity benefit claimants back into work.

The proposals follow growing calls for unemployment and welfare provision to be dealt with at a local level, which Local Government Association chairman Sir Simon Milton (Con) made the case for in July 2007.

Shadow work and pensions secretary Chris Grayling unveiled the latest Tory plans this week. They include:

  • Stopping claimants' Job Seekers Allowance after two years

  • Forcing the long-term unemployed to take part in community work in return for benefits

  • Skills development, job application preparation and guidance

  • A network of independently run centres where claimants would have to spend most of the working week based

Plans 'threaten family security'

But the Child Poverty Action Group has attacked the proposals. It's chief executive Kate Green said: "The Conservatives should not threaten family security with an attack on welfare rights while economic storm clouds gather on the horizon.

"Any family could find themselves suddenly needing their welfare rights through job loss, bereavement, illness or disability," Ms Green added.

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