BENEFITS claimants in Wigan will need to show “they have done all they can” to find work as part of a new government scheme.
Jobseekers are now required to sign a claimant commitment which sets out what they need to do to receive state support.
More than 3,800 are currently claiming jobseeker’s allowance in the borough and the commitment scheme is being rolled out across the country in stages.
Wigan was part of a welfare reform pathfinder project which included new claimants using the Universal Credit (UC) system earlier this year. The flagship initiative combines several previous welfare payments into one monthly sum.
Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “The claimant commitment marks the start of a redefinition of the relationship between the welfare state and claimants.
“In return for state support, we expect claimants to do all they can to meet their responsibilities to return to work. It also strengthens the ability of Jobcentre Plus staff to support claimants back into work at the earliest opportunity.
“Work coaches and jobseekers will agree regular specific tasks and training opportunities and the penalties claimants could face for failing to meet their responsibilities to get into work will be clearly spelt out.”
Those looking for work will receive support from coaches to set out how to prepare for and find employment and their plan will be reviewed on a regular basis.
Jobcentre Plus Work Coach, Stephen Dillon, said: “If you start claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance, and the claimant commitment is in your area, you will have a discussion with your work coach. It’s during that discussion you will agree what activities you will do, and the training and support you require to get into work as quickly as possible.
“We will then need to see evidence that those tasks are being completed.”
The claimant commitment is being introduced in around 100 Jobcentres a month, until it is in place across the country by spring 2014.
It is part of a wider crackdown on abuse of Britain’s benefits system.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced yesterday he wanted new rules preventing recent EU immigrants from claiming housing support and unemployment benefits.
The rules are designed to curb fears over waves of migrants from Romania.