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Out of work couples targeted in jobs drive

19 March 2001 - The Government announced today that young unemployed couples without children (in Great Britain) will be expected to both actively seek work in order to claim Jobseeker's Allowance.

The Employment Minister, Tessa Jowell said that these changes would provide more people with access to training programmes and New Deal assistance and would boost the labour supply by bringing around 27,000 additional people into the job market - including about 10,000 current claimants.

Unemployed couples without dependent children - with at least one partner aged between 18 and 24 - will be required to make a joint claim for Jobseeker's Allowance. This will be a change from previous circumstances in which one could make a claim while the other was treated as a dependent partner. Provisions for joint claims for JSA were brought in by the Welfare Reform and Pensions Act 1999. Ms Jowell said this would ensure that when both partners were capable of working, they both looked for work.

Tessa Jowell added:

"This is a radical change to help get both members of a couple back into work, giving equal assistance and ensuring they have the same rights and the same responsibilities. We have made a clear distinction between those who have children and those who don't - this is aimed at those who don't and will offer direct help to another 27,000 people a year. It will also prevent couples from adjusting to benefit dependency at an early age.

"Over 85 per cent of partners of claimants are women, who have previously been regarded as 'dependants' on a Jobseeker's Allowance claim. Today's change scraps this outdated view of the world, where 72 per cent of all women are now economically active, and makes sure we are no longer missing the opportunity to help these people."

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