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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 January 2008, 15:06 GMT
Working for benefits: Your views
Jobcentre computer

People out of work for more than two years would be forced to do community work to keep their unemployment benefit, according to plans outlined by the Conservatives.

The long-term unemployed would have to take part in a 12-month programme involving "valuable improvement and amenity work in the areas where they live".

Tory leader David Cameron said he wanted to help people get back into work and end the "something for nothing culture" of benefit "dependency".

But how are people who are unemployed or work with unemployed people reacting to the plans? Read a selection of the comments we have received:

TERRY SMITH, LEIGH

I am 60 years old and have been unemployed for 6 months. I would welcome the chance to do community work if it was purposeful and rewarding, and not some job most would blanch at, like cleaning up sewage.

It is a great idea, but lots of 'wrinkles' to iron out before it could work properly.
Martin, Cornwall

However, would this not clash with the paid work of public sector employees? People are already being paid for jobs like removing graffiti and broken glass.

I am afraid that, if my local council is offered free men hours, they could start laying off public workers.

Also, aren't criminals sometimes sentenced to "community service"? Are the unemployed to be treated like criminals? How can I have the same treatment as I did nothing wrong?

JOAN, TEESIDE

I currently work for Jobcentre Plus and I think it is a very good idea.

I am fully aware that the majority of long term unemployed people know the system and have no intention of working. Unfortunately there is very little that myself or colleagues can do about the situation.

They need some kind of incentive to get back to work, and I think it would solve a lot of problems and reduce the number of people coming at the minute.

It is also going to help the community and it could have long term effects on the community.

PAUL WEAVER, POOLE

I am on Jobseekers and disability allowance and have in the past volunteered for charities, because I have the time to do it.

CONSERVATIVE PROPOSALS
Two year limit on jobseekers' allowance
Long-term jobless must do community work
Back-to-work centres for persistent jobless
Benefit cut for refusing three 'reasonable' job offers
All incapacity benefit claimants reassessed

The idea of getting people to do community work appears good on first impression, and as a long term unemployed person I would be interested in being involved, but why should I have to work just for my normal benefit level?

This is what worries me - being forced to do it.

I do community work already and it is helping me with my work skills as I have learned some computer technology and keep myself up to date with the latest software.

But there needs to be a lot of safeguards to ensure that there is some real benefit from working in the community.

Also, would this sort of scheme attract the right type of people to work in the community?

MARTIN, CORNWALL

I manage a New Deal contract putting unemployed into 'work experience' placements in the Voluntary Sector.

A good number of people use it as a genuine stepping stone to get a job.

But unfortunately, many of the 'unemployed' are also 'unemployable' and more trouble that they are worth even as 'volunteers' on community projects.

They sometimes misbehave, don't turn up, or don't work when they are there, so I don't think the organisations would want people who would represent more work for them.

It is a great idea, but lots of 'wrinkles' to iron out before it could work properly.


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Tories plan 'work for benefits'
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