The city, which has more than 14,500 people claiming Jobseekers’ Allowance, has been picked for the first trial of a Government scheme to target benefit claimants who “lack motivation” to find work.
From next month, they will be required to visit a Jobcentre every morning to sign an attendance register, then spend the whole day working on job applications .Ministers say the jobseekers will be given intensive help with important skills such as compiling CVs, writing covering letters, timekeeping and interview techniques.
But the policy also carries a big stick – a threat to remove benefits from claimants who fail to hunt for jobs for 35 hours each week, for three months.
A first breach of the rules will trigger a loss of four weeks’ benefit and the second will mean forfeiting three months’ money.
The Jobcentre Plus offices in Bradford and Leeds are among 64 across the country that will carry out the trial.
Staff began handing out factsheets today to jobseekers claimants not on the Work Programme or taking part in a community work placement.
Not all claimants at those centres will take part – and lone parents and carers might not be required to attend for the full 35 hours a week.
But the scheme last night divided opinion among the district’s MPs with those in the coalition Government supporting it, while those in opposition heavily critical of it.
Philip Davies (Con, Shipley) said: “I’m completely in favour of this scheme on every possible level, I think it’s a great initiative.
“It’s quite right that unemployed people treat looking for work as a full-time job, it is completely unacceptable for them to be loafing at home watching TV. “