Unemployed refusing work to lose benefits

Controversial new welfare reforms, which will see unemployed claimants stripped of their benefits for up to three years if they refuse to work, have been unveiled by Work and Pensions secretary, Iain Duncan Smith.

The reforms will see unemployed people who turn down offers of work, refuse to apply for appropriate jobs or fail to turn up for mandatory community work lose their £65-a-week Job Seekers Allowance (JSA).

The measure, included in the Welfare Reform White Paper being published on Tuesday, is intended to be in place before 2013 in an effort to cut the bill for JSA, which is claimed by 1.5 million people.

The allowance will be removed for three months on a first offence, six months the second time and three years on the third breach of the new rules.

Job Centre advisers are expected to have the power to strip errant job seekers of JSA and there will be no right of appeal, said officials.

Earlier Mr Cameron said the changes would create "clear responsibilities and clear incentives for those on benefit to take steps towards getting back to work wherever it's feasible for them to do so".