Talking tough on unemployment benefits.

British Finance Minister George Osborne told his Conservative Party conference it was time to change the culture.

His big idea? To force the long-term unemployed to undertake work placements such a cleaning up litter or face losing a portion of their welfare benefit.

SOUNDBITE, George Osborne, British Chancellor, saying:

"No-one will get something for nothing -- help to work and in return work for the dole, because a fair welfare system is fair to those who need it and fair to those who pay for it too."

George Osborne's pitch is designed to appeal to working Britons. Many feel the country's annual 200 billion pound welfare system is too generous when their incomes have been cut. But that's not how some of the 2.5 million unemployed see it.

SOUNDBITE, Unemployed man, saying (English):

"I am totally against it because it doesn't help me to go back to work."

SOUNDBITE, Unemployed man, saying (English):

"There's going to be people that are going to try and exploit it because it's a cheap form of labour and to be honest slavery was abolished 400 years ago."

SOUNDBITE, Unemployed man, saying (English):

"That would be kind of a demotion if you like but if I'm forced to do it then yes I will have to do it."

SOUNDBITE, Unemployed man, saying (English):

"To degrade people's humanity, it's not fair and this is from all of us opinion as you can see because I have been here for almost a year now and I still haven't found any kind of employment."

The 'Help to Work' programme is due to start next April.

It'll cost 300 million pounds and be financed by savings to be announced later in the year.

That's a tiny amount compared to that spent on welfare which swallows over a third of Osborne's budget.

But he clearly has political motives too.

Elections are less than two years away and the Conservative party is currently lagging well behind in the polls.

 

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