Citizens Advice has warned the welfare system must take the needs of those who use it into account, as George Osborne announced a new ‘Help to Work' programme aimed at the long-term unemployed.
The government has announced people in long-term unemployment who are capable of work will be asked to work in return for their benefits.
Those who have been unemployed for three years or more will be asked to take part in community work placements, such as clearing up litter and graffiti in their local areas
They will also attend daily signings at the job centre until they find work; Claimants will be expected to be on a training scheme, community work placement or intensive work preparation - losing their benefit if they fail to comply.
Help to Work will be applied to all claimants of Jobseeker's Allowance when they leave the Work Programme from April 2014.
It will not apply to Employment and Support Allowance claimants.
Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of national charity Citizens Advice, said: "The benefits system must not be used to punish the long-term unemployed for circumstances which are outside their control.
"Caring responsibilities or sky-high transport costs will make it very difficult for many people to attend community work or jobcentres in person every day.
"It's vital that the Government provides proper support for those who face extra barriers to work, such as mental illness or mobility problems, and understands that these conditions will sometimes make participation in this scheme impossible."
‘Is it normal?’
By Advertising Standards Agency
At The HAC, London
‘The world’s biggest mass sporting event’
COVER Podcast #1