September 14, 2011
Benefits claimants who cannot speak and write English will be ordered to take language classes or have their handouts stopped for up to three years.
The measure, announced by the Prime Minister and Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith, is expected to apply to about 67,000 people on Jobseeker’s Allowance. It is designed to target a hardcore of claimants whose language skills are so poor they have little or no chance of ever being offered a job and are doing nothing to improve their skills themselves.
But despite David Cameron’s stance, cynics are likely to suggest the measures will join a raft of tough-talking announcements that lose their teeth in practice.
Under the plans, anyone who refuses to start an English course or fails to turn up to classes will face a sliding scale of sanctions.
Most of the group of 67,000 claimants are immigrants with a right to work in this country, but a significant number are British-born people whose education has been so dire they are barely able to communicate.