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A government scheme to help the long-term unemployed get into the workplace comes into effect today.

Those still out of work after two years on the existing Work Programme will be forced to enrol on the Help to Work scheme or face having their benefits reduced.

Participants of the scheme will have to go to their local job centre every day, some will receive intensive coaching while others will will be offered community work placements to help them get into work.

Those who do not take part could face penalties, including losing their jobless benefits for four weeks.

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith said:

“Everyone with the ability to work should be given the support and opportunity to do so.

“The previous system wrote too many people off, which was a huge waste of potential for those individuals as well as for their families and the country as a whole.”

The lack of jobs in the UK has prompted the largest ever rise in self-employment, with the number of self-employed workers rising by 211,000, according to the ONS report for November to January.  These figures have helped buoy the British unemployment rate, which currently stands at 72.6%.

The government hopes to increase employment rates further and narrow the skills shortage gap by better equipping the unemployed for the workplace.

Photo by Job Centre Plus