Press release

Jobseekers on benefits who need help to speak English will have to take up free language training

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Jobseekers whose lack of English is preventing them from getting a job, will have to attend English language training or lose benefits.

Jobseekers whose lack of English is preventing them from getting a job, will be required to attend English language training or face losing their benefits as part of the governments radical shake-up of the welfare system.

On a visit to a Work Programme provider with Work and Pension Secretary Iain Duncan Smith today, the Prime Minister said:

The Work Programme is the biggest back to work programme there has been in this country since the 1930s and what we’re doing is saying to everyone who has been stuck on benefits, whether job seekers’ allowance or incapacity benefit, these organisations will help you get work.

Under new rules coming into force Jobcentre Plus advisers can mandate people onto training courses if they believe they lack the correct skills to get the jobs on offer in the local labour market.

People with poor English skills, which are preventing them from getting into employment, will be referred onto specialist English language training courses. If claimants refuse to attend any of the classes recommended to them, they could have their benefits stopped.

Speaking about the wider package of reforms on the day the Welfare Reform Bill is debated in the House of Lords, Iain Duncan Smith also announced that benefit claimants will receive their money in monthly payments under Universal Credit, to help prepare them for the working environment.

With 75 per cent of people in work being paid monthly, Ministers believe it is sensible that benefits are paid in the same manner, helping claimants to get used to managing their money and bills over a four week basis, to smooth the transition into work.

Iain Duncan Smith said:

With the introduction of the Universal Credit we are making the most radical changes to welfare in a generation and will finally make work pay. At the moment people get benefits on a fortnightly basis, yet most people in work are paid monthly. This change can cause anxiety and dissuade people on benefits from entering the workplace. To help smooth the transition into work we will pay Universal Credit on a monthly basis, meaning families can budget properly and be ready for work.

In recognition that some claimants on benefits are used to planning their spending on a fortnightly basis Ministers will be putting in place budgeting advice and support for those who need it, such as offering interim budgeting loans to some claimants moving to Universal Credit.

As part of the development of Universal Credit Iain Duncan Smith has also announced today a new flexible conditionality regime for foster carers, which recognises the importance of their caring responsibilities. Under Universal Credit:

  • Single foster carers will only be required to attend Work Focused Interviews and won’t be required to find work until the foster child reaches the age of 16 - couples will nominate a primary carer where the same rules will apply.
  • Foster carers who are between placements will not be required to look for work for up to eight weeks so long as they can show their intention to continue fostering.
  • In exceptional circumstances, where a foster child has proven care needs that require full-time care by two adults they will both be excused from their work-focused interviews until the child leaves the foster home.

Many people claiming Carers’ Allowance will also benefit under the new regime. Whilst they will continue to be paid separately outside of Universal Credit, carers who are also in receipt of Universal Credit will receive a carers’ element, which will be paid as long as they provide care for at least 35 hours per week for a severely disabled person. Unlike the current system this element will continue even when earnings reach £100 per week.

Speaking ahead of the Second Reading of the Welfare Reform Bill in the House of Lords today, the Minster for Welfare Reform Lord Freud said:

Carers provide an invaluable service to people in some of the most vulnerable circumstances in our communities and Universal Credit will ensure that those carers on low incomes receive the support they need, whilst maintaining their links with the world of work.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Welfare Reform Bill will radically reshape Britain’s welfare system, including introducing Universal Credit to simplify the benefit system and make work pay.
  2. Universal Credit will be implemented from 2013 - merging out-of-work benefits with in-work Tax Credits in a single system and one streamlined payment.
  3. Universal Credit will replace:
    • Income related Jobseeker’s Allowance
    • Income related Employment and Support Allowance
    • Income Support
    • Child Tax Credits
    • Working Tax Credits
    • Housing Benefit
    • Universal Credit narrative