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Jobseekers who don't 'try hard enough' could lose benefits

3rd July 2012

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The Government is attempting to get tough on the spiralling benefits bill and get more of the unemployed into work. The ‘three strikes’ scheme is the latest approach, toughening up the current practice of making unemployed people demonstrate they are frequently trying to find a job and forcing them to attend career based interviews with advisers.

If they don’t they are currently at a risk of losing benefits from anything between one and twenty six weeks. Unsurprisingly, this is rarely followed. Replacing this, the new regime, to be introduced in August 2013, will see unemployed people losing their benefits for thirteen weeks following the first failure, twenty six weeks for a second breach and three years for a third, provided this occurs in the same twelve month period as the second. The new rules are apparently part of a ‘deal’ between the Government and the unemployed.

"We will pay their benefits and they will in turn prove that they are doing all they can to return to the job market", says Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith.

What does this mean for struggling graduates? At first the policies appear to be positive – toughening up on those taking advantage! Making sure those claiming jobseekers allowance are motivated and not playing the system is, of course, a good thing.

But is it flawed? Of course. Ignoring that this is likely just another headline grabbing policy, those who are ‘unemployable’ and the reality that it will not stop people turning up for five minutes simply not to lose their benefits, it becomes unfair on those who genuinely cannot find work. Are we forgetting the demand for the few jobs we do have? With 300 people applying for a part time supermarket shift sometimes the reality is that work is too hard to find. What is the point of applying for a position inundated with more qualified applicants? Or reversely, applying for a position clearly beneath your qualifications? This is the position many will find themselves in at the risk of losing their benefits.

While some have been lucky, the majority of graduates I know are trying desperately for work and are struggling to find somewhere that will take them. Gone are the days of simply requiring a degree, now more students than ever are going to university and with 66% graduating with a 2:1 in 2010, it’s difficult to stand out. When the student loan instalments stop money is needed while looking for work, shown by the third of all graduates that are currently signed on.

It is only imperative graduates look for work – there is no onus on getting it. After graduation everyone is desperate to get out of their parents house and earn their own money so even though the job market is in a bad state, looking for jobs is a must anyway. Whether we see this policy actually happen is one thing, but as long as graduates continue to actively look for work, it shouldn’t be problematic. If they do begin to claim jobseekers allowance and do nothing to get in the job market, surely they are the same as the people the policy was aimed at anyway?

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