Tories Spell-Out Benefit Cut Plan

David Cameron(BBC) – THE CONSERVATIVES SAY they would pay for their £600m plan to ‘get Britain working’ by cutting the incapacity benefit bill.

People on employment support allowance who are deemed fit to work would be put on the jobseeker’s allowance, reducing their benefits by £25 a week.

All incapacity benefit claimants would be assessed to see if they could work.

Ministers have described the Tory plan to reduce the number of people on incapacity benefit as ‘callous.’

Mr Cameron’s position on the Lisbon Treaty is also under the microscope at the Conservative Party’s conference in Manchester, amid calls for a referendum, whether it has been ratified or not.

But the Tory leader wants to concentrate on what he has described as a ‘big, bold’ shake-up of the welfare system.

He told the BBC the New Deal would be among schemes replaced by personalised help to get the jobless and those on incapacity benefit into work.

There would also be training courses for those unemployed for more than six months — with benefits cut if they refused to take up the offer.

The idea is for private training firms to be employed to prepare the unemployed for work and also to assess all 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit to see what work they might be able to do.

The initial start-up cost of the change would be £600m, the Conservative leader said.

The Tories say they would cover the cost of the scheme by transferring more people from incapacity benefits to jobseeker’s allowance.

They say they would extend a government pilot scheme aimed at getting people on incapacity benefit into work, which has a 19% success rate, across the whole of the UK.

Shadow schools secretary Michael Gove denied the approach was a throwback to more hard line Conservative policies of the 1980s and 1990s, saying the plan was within the tradition of moderate ‘one nation’ Conservatism.

‘The Conservative Party is a party on a mission, on a crusade, to deal with deep-seated social, structural problems which have kept 20% to 30% of our people in poverty because they have not had the opportunities to rise which others have been given,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘You can characterise that mission, that desire, to ensure social mobility is spread more widely and to deal with entrenched poverty however you wish but, as far as I am concerned, it is true to the mission that David Cameron outlined when he became leader of the Conservative Party.’

Following the Tory announcement, the government announced a number of new policies aimed at getting more than 750,000 people back into work by the end of next year.

People who have been out of work for more than six months — but have turned down work experience, support or training — will be required to take a work experience placement as a condition of receiving their benefits.

Labour rejected the Conservative approach to incapacity benefit claimants as ‘callous.’

‘This is unfair on the genuinely sick who should not suffer a £25 a week cut in benefit,’ employment minister Jim Knight said

‘Our plans are to get people off benefit and into work. The Tories don’t seem to care about getting people into jobs, they just want to cut their benefit.’

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