Million Join 'Rigorous' Jobs Regime

More than a million jobseekers have signed up to a "rigorous'' regime to do more to find work, the Government has announced.

The Claimant Commitment was launched a year ago and has created a "real change'' in attitudes, according to ministers.

The landmark figure was published ahead of the latest unemployment data, which is expected to show another fall in the jobless total.

The Claimant Commitment sets out a jobseeker's responsibility, including benefit sanctions if it is not followed.

Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Iain Duncan Smith said: "This Government is committed to ensuring that everyone who is able to work is given the skills and the opportunities to do so. With employment already at record levels, this suggests our approach is working.

"It is only right that in return for that support - and in return for their benefits - jobseekers are expected to do all they can to find work. Although on benefits, they still have a job - the job is to get back into work.

"The Claimant Commitment, which is deliberately set to mimic a contract of employment, makes this expectation explicit. It has created a real change in attitudes. Already more than a million people have signed up to - and are benefiting from - this new jobseeking regime.''

Last month's unemployment figures showed a fall of 63,000 to 1.96 million, while the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance dipped by 26,900 to 900,100.

Meanwhile, a report by recruitment firm Robert Half showed that half of firms were planning to recruit staff in the coming months.

A survey of 200 HR directors revealed that only 4% believed their firm would cut jobs.

Phil Sheridan, managing director of Robert Half, said: "We are witnessing the typical post-recessionary power shift, with rapidly increasing demand for niche skills and commercial acumen affording candidates a position of strength from which to negotiate.

"Firms looking to expand their employee base are likely to drive up wages with the increased competition for the most sought-after professionals. Companies who want to attract skilled employees will need to look once again towards generous remuneration packages.''

Sanctions against jobseeker's allowance claimants have led to an increase in people leaving unemployment benefits, but they are not returning to work, according to another report.

Researchers at the University of Oxford and the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine said there had been a 40% increase in the rate of people being sanctioned after June 2011 compared with the previous seven years.

Professor David Stuckler from Oxford said: "Sanctions do not appear to help people return to work. There is a real concern that sanctioned persons are disappearing from view.''

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