Conservatives propose ‘three strikes and you’re out’ benefits shake-up

The Conservatives have proposed a “three strikes and you’re out” policy in an effort to cut the number of UK incapacity benefit claimants by 200,000.

Tory leader David Cameron has called for the removal of benefits for three years from people who refuse a third “reasonable” job offer, according to media reports.

The Conservative proposals will be announced on Tuesday, where Cameron will also insist on regular tests for people claiming benefits and an “in-depth assessment” to evaluate their needs and capabilities and decide if they are able to work.

Heavier penalties proposed include the removal of benefits for three years.

Peter Hain, Work and Pensions secretary, dismissed the proposal as “yet more Cameron spin”. He said: “The existing Jobseeker’s Allowance regime already requires claimants to take up reasonable job offers or face a loss of benefit for six months.” He added that a ‘three strikes’ policy as a radical shift was “dishonest”.

New incapacity benefit tests due in October 2008 look set to force a significant number of people who are disabled or have been unable to work owing to long-term sickness into the workplace.

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