London

Greenwich Council to give jobs to benefit cut claimants

A London council will offer jobs to people who are set to lose money as a result of the benefit changes.

Greenwich Council said hundreds will benefit from a £6m employment fund creating jobs like street cleaning, town centre management and recycling.

The Labour-led council said it would be cheaper than supporting people if they lose their home but Tories said the money should go to the private sector.

The move comes as four London boroughs start a trial on capping benefits.

From Monday, claimants in Bromley, Croydon, Enfield and Haringey will see the money they receive each week in benefits capped to £500 for a couple or lone parent - regardless of how many children they have - and £350 for a single adult with no children.

It is one of a series of measures the government is introducing to shake-up the welfare system.

Greenwich Council leader Chris Roberts said the two-year employment scheme was a result of these changes, adding that hundreds of families in the borough would benefit.

On Monday, 31 people were due to be the first to start either full-time or part-time jobs.

People will be employed for six months and afterwards, they will be in a better position to get a permanent job, said Mr Roberts.

After the six-month placement the council will help them find longer-term opportunities and also help with their childcare and carrying out benefits checks.

'Even bigger drain'

The jobs will not be openly advertised but people who are worst affected by the cuts will be contacted through the borough's local labour scheme using information about their benefit status, the council said.

Mr Roberts said: "If we can do something that will get our families and get people back into work so that they can help themselves, we think that's a positive thing for them and for their children.

"There would be a significant impact upon the council's budget if these families were to lose their homes and we'd be having to place them into homelessness and they would be an even bigger drain on the public purse than what some people claim they are at the moment."

But Conservative councillor Spencer Drury said private businesses could do with the support instead to allow them to provide better long-term employment.

"We don't believe that getting people into public sector jobs is necessarily going to lead to private sector jobs," he said.

"We're not sure this scheme can work effectively. We think you could end up working six months and then not get a job and you'll be back where you were at square one."

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