UnNews:UK welfare Mutual Obligation reform

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ANKH-MORPORK, Tuesday (UNN) — The Department of Work and Pensions and the Department of Trade and Industry announced today a radical reform to the welfare system, the largest shakeup in 233 years since the Poor Law of 1601 was introduced. The green paper, A new deal for welfare: Empowering people to work, is regarded by the Department as a landmark document for meeting its objectives of promoting opportunity and independence for all. It contains major new proposals to help individuals achieve their potential through work.

In the push to help people on disability back into the working population as effectively as possible and to find new opportunities for the long-term unemployed and those in employment-disadvantaged areas, a new eligibility test, the Disability Occupational Obligation Matrix, will be introduced to ensure that people capable of working will have to, and a network of support organisations set up to provide help.

"In many cases the problem is not that there aren't jobs: there are," said the Secretary of State in a speech last night. "The problem is that people are too proud to take the jobs they can get, which are then filled by illegal immigrants, asylum seekers and Albanian refugees being held prisoner in brothels. The way to solve this is to take pride out of the equation by utterly humiliating them."

The plans call for those claiming benefits at present to be divided into several categories. Those "genuinely physically unable to do manual work, such as quadriplegics" will continue to receive payments to sustain themselves in the community — to be called "outdoor relief". The rest will be encouraged to find work — which they should be able to accept, as any work available should be more eligible than no work.

A network of Productivity Homes will be set up throughout the country, under local authority and faith control. These community organisations will provide facilities for people who are unable to look after themselves or cannot find work. Those able to will be set to useful tasks to defray the cost of the productivity homes, which will be expected to be financially self-sustaining. Residents of Productivity Homes will be confined to the home at all hours whilst living there, in order to cut down on benefits fraud and prevent them secretly taking jobs. They will, of course, be free to leave entirely and move back into the wider society at any time. It is hoped that the construction of the Homes will itself massively boost the construction industry and reduce unemployment.

Productivity Homes will also contain facilities to assist sole parents and their children with helping meet the Governmental mutual obligation requirement. It is thought that children who have rejected the opportunity for education could be trained as apprentices. Older persons who do not have a private pension or a job and therefore are unable to fund themselves on the "outside" will also be looked after well in the Productivity Homes, and will be only assigned light work in respect of their special status. Those in more depressed areas of the country will be offered the chance of a free one-way ticket to the London commuter belt in exchange for continued accommodation in a Home.

The reform was greeted enthusiastically by major employers such as McDonald's and ASDA-WalMart. Tesco looked forward to benefiting the consumer by expanding its range of low-priced British-grown produce from the planned Productivity Farms in unemployment-stricken rural areas and near regional towns struck by the collapse of traditional industries. British Gas welcomed the proposed apprenticeship plan, and noted that young apprentices could perform tasks that adult-bodied people would be too large to. Charles Dickens was not available for comment.

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