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    Politics

    Hunt unveils measures to crack down on benefits claimants who refuse to look for work

    Jeremy Hunt will also use his speech to announce that the national living wage will rise to above £11 an hour next April. Photo: Kirsty Wigglesworth/AP

    Benefit claimants who refuse to look for work will face tougher penalties under a crackdown announced by Jeremy Hunt on Monday.

    Speaking at the Conservative Party conference, the Chancellor will argue that this is unfair to those who receive benefits and do not try to get into work to receive the same financial support as those who do.

    < p>About 100,000 people are believed to be on Hunt's radar and full details of how the regime will be tightened will be released next month.

    Reducing the amount of benefits people can receive if they repeatedly refuse to go. Job interviews are one area that is being examined, as figures close to this policy showed.

    Another concern is that people who are not currently required to seek employment opportunities will be subject to new conditions before they receive unemployment benefits.

    This is part of Rishi Sunak's wider push to cut unemployment benefits. unemployment for 5.2 million Britons – a figure that has risen sharply during the pandemic and has yet to fall.

    contract'

    Mr Hunt will also announce in his speech that the national living wage will rise to above £11 an hour next April, meaning a pay rise for two million people. It is currently £10.42.

    On benefits sanctions, the Chancellor will say: “I am incredibly proud to live in a country where, as Churchill said, there is a ladder that anyone can climb, but also a safety net that no one falls below. But paying for this safety net is a social contract that depends on fairness for those who work, as well as compassion for those who don't.

    “This means that work must be profitable , and we make sure she pays. Since last year, for the first time, you can earn £1,000 a month without paying a penny in tax or national insurance.

    “But things have gone in the wrong direction since the pandemic. As companies struggle to find workers, about 100,000 people quit their jobs each year to live on benefits.

    “As part of this, we will look at how the sanctions regime works. This is a fundamental question of fairness. People who aren't even looking for work don't deserve the same benefits as people who are trying their best to do the right thing.”

    Currently, about 5.2 million people are collecting unemployment benefits. About 3.7 million people claim benefits without having to look for work for a range of reasons, including health conditions and long-term disabilities.

    “Work will take us in the opposite direction”

    But Mr Hunt wants to focus on the following: the 100,000 people believed to be able to work but who cannot find work. The exact policy measures will be announced in the Autumn Statement on November 22, and Treasury officials said the Chancellor's intervention should be taken as a guarantee that the crackdown will begin.

    According to figures close to him, the focus will be on tightening sanctions if people refuse to look for work and expanding the circle of people who are subject to conditions for receiving benefits that encourage job search.

    Currently, some claimants for benefits may be are subject to sanctions for up to six months if they do not meet the requirements needed to prove they are looking for work.

    Mr Hunt's willingness to focus on benefits and whether some are doing enough to do so Return to work has echoes of the policies promoted by David Cameron and George Osborne. Portraying the Tories as supporters of “workers, not draftists” helped win the 2015 general election.

    Mr Hunt will say in his speech that “Labour will take us in the opposite direction”, adding: “They promised lift the sanctions, removing the incentive to look for work.”

    He will make clear he will accept the Low Pay Commission's recommendations if it recommends a pay rise, as expected. National Living Wage. This means prices could rise to £11.16 per hour in April.

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