Town’s crucial role as Ministers make work pay in next phase of IDS welfare revolution

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IAIN Duncan Smith has revealed the pivotal role that Harrogate is playing in his welfare revolution as the out-of-work are incentivised to find employment.

As part of the introduction of the coalition’s flagship new Universal Credit that brings six benefits and tax credits into one payment, recipients in the North Yorkshire town now have to sign a Claimant Commitment that forces them to meet certain obligations.

Writing exclusively in today’s Yorkshire Post after meeting Jobcentre Plus staff in Harrogate to see the scheme in action before it is rolled out to other parts of the region, the Work and Pensions Secretary is confident that this “cultural shift” will yield long-term dividends for the economy.

“Claimants agree a detailed plan working with the advisers, which sets out day by day what they will do to get back to work,” he explains.

“The Jobcentre Plus advisers act as work coaches and are a source of advice and support, but if claimants don’t meet the requirements set out in the commitment without good reason, they could lose their benefit.

“It’s such an important change that even while we roll out Universal Credit gradually and safely, we’re introducing the commitment to every Jobcentre in Yorkshire by April.”

Mr Duncan Smith also defends the Government’s handling of the economy, saying that the benefits cap of £26,000 a year has seen 1,872 households across the region have their payments reduced as part of the coalition’s attempt to control costs.

He says 164,000 more people are employed by the private sector locally compared to 2010 – and that this trend will need to continue as the coalition looks to take on Labour and end the costly culture of welfare dependency.

Opinion: Page 13.