MP backs calls for benefit crackdown

Gloria de Piero in her office at Westminster.
Gloria de Piero in her office at Westminster.

Eastwood MP Gloria De Piero has backed plans that would see long-term unemployed youngsters forced to take a job - or face losing their


In a recent opinion piece, the MP echoed the Labour Party’s election manifesto pledge for getting the next generation back into work with a compulsory ‘jobs guarantee’ for young people out of work for a year and for over 25s out of work for two years.

Ms De Piero said: “While I welcome the recent news that unemployment is down I think it’s wrong for ministers to say the economy is fixed when the majority of hard working folk locally are still to see any signs of the recovery in the pockets.”

She added that in 2008 there were 1,286 people out of work in her Ashfield constituency, yet last month almost 500 more people were signing on.

She said: “Under my plans the long-term unemployed would have to take a job or face losing their benefit.

“I’d much rather see cash spent on getting people back to work than not getting depressed at home.

“Working is also about being social. It affects self-esteem and mental health.

“The longer you’re out of work the harder it is to get a job. ”

She said there are currently 50,000 young people unemployed for more than a year, and all would be required to go on the scheme or lose benefit.

The state would pay those on the scheme the minimum wage for 25 hours work a week for six months, plus equivalent National Insurance contributions.

Ms De Piero said: “They will ideally be with a private sector employer. They will have to provide a minimum of ten hours of training a week.

“If the employer can top up the minimum wage then we will encourage them to do so. They will have to prove they won’t replace existing jobs.”

Government would also give employers £500 per worker towards administration and training costs.

She added the compulsory jobs guarantee is modelled on Jobs Growth Wales, a scheme to help young people into employment which has created more than 13,000 job opportunities in two years.

Jobs Growth Wales began in April 2012 and is part-funded by the European Social Fund.

The latest figures show that 82 per cent of young people in the private sector part of the programme have progressed into sustained employment, an apprenticeship or further learning upon completing their six month placements.

Ms De Piero said “If we can replicate that success - then that would be tremendous.

“If you’re going to university there are lots of opportunities on offer.

“But what about those who didn’t do so well in their exams? Do we just forget about them and say ‘You’re on benefits?’”

She said that the scheme was not about forcing people who are unwell to work.

“The Labour Party came about to fight for the rights of people to work,” she said. “Getting people into work is absolutely part of the Labour Party’s DNA.”

In March Labour shadow chancellor Ed Balls said the scheme would be funded by a one-off levy on bankers’ bonuses and a restriction on higher rate pension tax relief for those earning £150,000 or more.