A major shake-up in the welfare system will benefit all those who "play by the rules", Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has said.
The plan, which will see people who refuse to take up job opportunities stripped of benefits for up to three years, is part of a "contract" with the unemployed.
Mr Duncan Smith said simplifying the welfare system would ensure "work always pays more" than relying on the state by easing the rate at which benefits are withdrawn as income rises.
In a Commons statement on 11 November 2010, he said: "This is our contract: we make work pay and support you through the Work Programme to find a job.
"But in return, if we do that, we also expect co-operation from those who are seeking work.
"That is why we are developing a regime of sanctions for those who refuse to play by the rules as well as targeted work activity for those who need to get used to the habits of work.
"That will be a selective process, very much targeted on those who need to do it, not for everybody."
Shadow work and pensions secretary Douglas Alexander welcomed the aims of the plan but questioned whether Chancellor George Osborne had given enough support to make it effective.
Mr Alexander said: "He can count on Labour support when he is pursuing laudable aims even when it appears he cannot count on the support of his own chancellor."