Iain Duncan Smith is reportedly considering new cost-cutting plans to force all unemployed people to "sign on" at the Jobcentre twice as often in order to keep receiving benefits.
A Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) source told the Independent that Britain's near-two million job-seekers could "potentially" have to sign on weekly in the long term, after officials published research finding that people who were made to do so found a job six days faster than those who only did it once a fortnight.
George Osborne announced in 2013 that the unemployed would be made to meet every week with Jobcentre staff if they were deemed not to be doing enough to find work, equating to "about half' of the number out of work.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today, he said: "There's no option of doing nothing for your benefits. No something for nothing anymore. People are going to have to do things to get their dole and that is going to help them into work – that is the crucial point. This is all activity that is actually going to help them get ready for the world of work".
However, the new ramped up plans will force all of those unemployed, pending further trials, to meet staff every week.
Trade unions reacted with fury, lashing out at ministers for "punishing the jobless" by making them spend lots of time travelling to appointments.
A spokesman for the Public and Commercial Services union added: “Weekly signing would require a massive investment in Jobcentres and staff, which runs counter to what the department and ministers are doing, so this doesn’t appear to be designed to help claimants, it’s just another way for the Government to turn the screw.”
A DWP spokesman said: "As we announced early last year, simply 'signing-on' to receive benefits has become a thing of the past and we’ve introduced a range of ways to help claimants move off benefits and into work.
"We’re also trialling more tailored support, such as asking claimants to meet with their work coaches on a weekly basis to go through their job search. These trials are ongoing."
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