§ Let me start with two proposals designed to help people back into work. The present convoluted system for helping the unemployed includes two entirely separate benefits—income support and unemployment benefit—and two quite separate bureaucracies for delivering them—the Employment Service and the Benefits Agency, employing between them no fewer than 44,000 civil servants to do the one job.
§ We intend to cut through this bureaucratic maze by introducing, from April 1996, a single benefit for the unemployed —the job seeker's allowance. This will align rates and rules and reduce the contributory element of the benefit from 12 to six months. But it will also build on the success of the restart programme introduced in the 1980s, by drawing a much closer link between the receipt of benefit and the claimant's demonstrated willingness to look for work. It will be reinforced by a strengthening of restart itself; by an extension of community action places; and by the introduction of pilot schemes offering intensive guidance, assessment and a financial incentive to long-term unemployed people who need it most.