No one should be too surprised by the coalition plan, given that it was in the Tory manifesto:
our plans will give unemployed people a hand up, not a hand out. Unemployed people must be prepared to take up job offers. So, with the Conservatives, long-term benefit claimants who fail to find work will be required to ‘work for the dole’ on community work programmes. anyone on jobseeker’s allowance who refuses to join the Work Programme will lose the right to claim out-of-work benefits until they do, while people who refuse to accept reasonable job offers could forfeit their benefits for up to three years. this will create a welfare system that is fair but firm.
Having said that, it wasn’t in the coalition agreement between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. Adrian Sanders, a Lib Dem backbencher, is one of the immediate sceptics, telling me today that: “Carrots always work better than sticks.”