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‘Work for your dole’ – what could this mean for older workers?

by on September 30, 2013

Lots of column inches in the news this morning about the Tory proposals for the long-term unemployed (see The Independent, the Telegraph and the Standard).

According to the Independent, those who are out of work for more than 3 years will have to do one of the following if they are to continue receiving job seekers allowance:

– “Thirty hours a week for six months of community work such as making meals for the elderly, cleaning up litter and graffiti or charity work, plus 10 hours of “job search activity”;
– Daily attendance at a jobcentre to search for work instead of a brief interview once a fortnight;
– A mandatory intensive regime for claimants with underlying problems such as mental health, drug addiction or illiteracy”.

Research shows that older workers take longer to find new jobs once unemployed than their younger counterparts so, with state pension ages rising, this group might be over-represented in those affected by this scheme. The way its presented, the scheme seems to target the individual as being ‘at fault’ or ‘requiring punishment’ for being out of work – but many would argue that older job seekers face external barriers to employment such as age discrimination or ageist assumptions by prospective employers.

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