Labour's shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne came under fire from anti-poverty activists today for a jobs plan they called a "rebranding" of Tory workfare schemes.
Mr Byrne told Radio 4 that a Labour government would create a new "compulsory jobs guarantee" fund with cash trimmed from wealthy pensioners' tax relief.
Reinstating the 20 per cent cap on pension contributions for those on more than £150,000 a year would free up £1 billion to fund the scheme, he said.
"It means that anyone who has been out of work for a couple of years must find a job or we will invest in providing one and unless they take that job they will lose benefits."
Mr Byrne said the fund would pay a recipient's wages for 25 hours a week at the national minimum wage - despite Ed Miliband's previous support for a living wage where employers received public funds.
He claimed that some people had to be pushed into work and added that he hoped to later introduce it after 12 months' unemployment.
But Boycott Workfare's Joanna Long told the Morning Star that Mr Byrne was simply pushing "a rebrand of workfare."
Ms Long said most activists she knew would oppose the scheme: "The fact that it's compelled by sanctions is deeply concerning.
"Income may be slightly higher, but it's still basically workfare."
The minimum wage paid more than a jobseeker's benefit - but for most long-term unemployed it would mean barely £150 a week.
Even that was misleading, Ms Long said, as Mr Byrne also wanted people to undertake hours of unpaid training.
She said the scheme suffered the same flaws as the Con-Dems' Work Programme: handing employers free unskilled labour does not develop new industries, improve standards of living or improve job security.
In fact figures published last November showed just 3.5 per cent of people on the Work Programme had found non-subsidised work after six months.
Ms Long said all three of the major parties now seemed determined to demonise the poor.
"All policy towards unemployed people or people who need government assistance is strictly one of punishment," she said.
The pledge follows David Cameron's frequent claims of a "something-for-nothing culture," citing long-term unemployment as proof that welfare schemes had taught people that "it pays not to work."
Yet fewer than 134,000 people had been unemployed for even a year in 2007, prior to the financial crisis.
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