Jobseekers on universal credit will need to look outside of their preferred sector after 4 weeks or their benefit payment could be reduced.
The change, which came into force yesterday, decreases the time frame from 3 months.
Introduced as part of the Way to Work campaign, ministers hope it will get 500,000 people jobs by June.
The initiative is focused on those who are able to work, but either are not working or are on a low income.
ONS recorded job vacancies had reached an all-time high of 1.2 million.
Work and Pensions’ Secretary Thérèse Coffey said: “Way to Work is a step in our offer to claimants and employers, making sure our job centre network and excellent Work Coaches can deliver opportunities, jobs and prosperity to all areas of the country.
“As we emerge from COVID, we are going to tackle supply challenges and support the continued economic recovery by getting people into work.
“Our new approach will help claimants get quickly back into the world of work while helping ensure employers get the people they and the economy needs.”
Claimants on universal credit are expected to receive more face-to-face time for “better, tailored support.”
Well-known companies such as TalkTalk and Whitbread Group are supporting the campaign.
Whitbread’s Head of Resourcing, Lisa Taylor, said: “Many of those who have joined us from the jobcentres during our time working closely together have gone on to build a successful career with us or maintain long term employment.
“At Whitbread, we passionately believe that by working together with Jobcentre Plus we can make a real difference to the lives of jobseekers in this country through our no barriers to entry and no limits to ambition approach, as well as being a force for good in our local communities.”
DWP also plan to work with thriving sectors such as construction, haulage and logistics and social care.
Chancellor of Exchequer, Rishi Sunak said: “It’s important that everyone has the opportunity and support to find a good job to help them get on in life. That’s why we’re doubling down on our Plan for Jobs with this new campaign to harness the talent of jobseekers and support employers to fill vacancies, find work and create new opportunities.
Together we will boost this country’s job-led recovery.”
However, the scheme has come under fire from Labour and Lib Dem members.
If claimants on universal credit are found to not make “reasonable efforts” in their job searching or turn down a job offer, they could face serious sanctions.
Lib Dem work and pensions spokesperson Wendy Chamberlain said: “This callous move could see skilled workers forced to accept insecure, short-term employment for fear of having the rug pulled out from under them, and create a cycle of unemployment.
“What is worse, these harsh sanctions could be applied within weeks of applying for Universal Credit – before people’s first payment even arrives.”
Labour’s shadow employment minister Alison McGovern criticised: “This announcement has more to do with trying to save the prime minister’s job than supporting people into work.
“It’s just tinkering at the edges – long-term unemployment is 60% higher than before the pandemic.
“People should be supported into good jobs that match their skills, which would give them a better chance to secure work long-term.”
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Michael Gove proposes House of Lords sit in Sunderland during Parliament refurbishment
Sunderland has been suggested as one of several locations for the House of Lords to relocate to while Parliament undergoes refurbishment.
York had been previously been proposed but the Government vetoed the plans.
Michael Gove, who is Levelling Up Secretary, is said to have written to Lord McFall of Alcluith suggesting locations including Stoke-on-Trent, Burnley and Sunderland.
In the letter, Mr Gove said he knows “cities and towns across the United Kingdom would be pleased to extend their hospitality to peers”.
He is quoted as saying that having “carefully reviewed the proposed arrangements”, he “will not support the use of the QEII Centre as an alternative location”.
The Queen Elizabeth II Centre conference and exhibition space is just a few minutes’ walk from the Palace of Westminster in London.
In the letter, which the Sunday Times said was also sent to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Cabinet Secretary Simon Case, Mr Gove suggested a move elsewhere in England, Scotland or Wales.
He is reported to have written: “As the minister responsible for levelling up, it is clear to me that the House of Lords moving elsewhere, even for a temporary period, would be widely welcomed.
“I have carefully reviewed the proposed arrangements and…I will not support the use of the QEII Centre as an alternative location.
“I propose to establish dedicated liaison points for you in my department to support you in identifying a suitable location for the House of Lords in the North, Midlands, South West, Scotland or Wales. I would, of course, be happy to meet you to discuss this.”
Tyne Bridge to Close for Several Weeks for £41m Restoration
Several weeks of overnight closures are planned in order to allow engineers to assess how bad a state the Tyne Bridge is in, before it can be restored to its former glory.
The long-overdue restoration is estimated to cost £41m in order to restore the bridge and refurbish the Central Motorway.
According to a local authority report, the inspection is expected to require the famous crossing to be closed from 10pm to 6am from June 13 to July 1. A number of roads underneath the bridge on the Newcastle Quayside are also due to be affected by the works – with closures due between May 16 and June 10 on Quayside, Lombard Street, Queen Street, and Akenside Hill from 8pm to 6am.
A Newcastle City Council spokesperson said: “We submitted a bid for £41.4 million to Government which, if approved, will enable a four-year maintenance programme for the Tyne Bridge and the Central Motorway to go ahead. As part of the funding process, we are required to carry out some initial works on the Tyne Bridge.
“This includes a full inspection of the bridge, so we can assess its condition and the scale of works required to finalise the costings and project plans to fully restore and refurbish this major structure. This needs to be completed ahead of funding being approved.
“As we need to inspect the entire span of the bridge, overnight closures may be required on the bridge and roads underneath it, so engineers can complete this work safely. Details on the programming are being finalised.”
The Tyne Bridge has not had any major maintenance for two decades and its much-needed refurbishment has been at the top of council officials’ to do list for years, in the hope of ensuring it is looking its best once again by its 100th birthday in 2028. However, it has been warned that the grade II* listed structure may have deteriorated into a worse condition than currently known and council bosses have warned that, like on other major projects like the Grainger Market’s roof repairs, the refurbishment may take longer than expected.”
Seaburn and Roker Beaches Named Best Beaches in the Country in 2022
Sunderland’s beaches have been named among the best in the country for the 11th year running.
Seaburn and Roker were both named as winners of the Seaside Award by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy. The pair were once again handed Blue Flags, marking them out for their for their excellent water quality, cleanliness and attempts to constantly improve visitor amenities.
The Blue Flag awards, now in their 35th year, are issued by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy and act as ‘a quality mark so visitors can be sure the beaches boast top-notch facilities and meet the highest environmental standards’.
Linda Williams, Sunderland City Council’s cabinet member for Vibrant City, said: “It is fantastic to see Sunderland’s beautiful beaches once again awarded the prestigious Blue Flag and Seaside Award.
“Flying these flags at Roker and Seaburn shows everyone who visits that our seafront has excellent quality bathing water and first-class facilities.
“We’re very lucky to have fantastic beaches with beautiful, clean water to swim and bathe in, and this national recognition is testament to the hard work of everyone involved in keeping our beaches clean, tidy and well-maintained.”
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