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Labour pledges "jobs guarantee" for anyone out of work for over two years

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Anyone out of work for more than two years would be guaranteed a job under a plan unveiled today by shadow chancellor, Ed Balls (pictured).

Balls said 129,400 people would currently be helped by the plan, which would be entirely paid for by limiting tax relief on pension contributions made by the 2% of UK earners with incomes of more than £150,000 a year.

Under Labour's plan, the long-term unemployed would be offered 25 hours of work a week at the national minimum wage for six months.

Anyone who fails to take up the offer under the £1 billion scheme would risk losing their benefits.

Balls said: "A One Nation approach to welfare reform means Government has a responsibility to help people into work and to support those who cannot.

"But those who can work must be required to take up jobs or lose benefits as a result - no ifs or buts.

"Britain needs real welfare reform that is tough, fair and that works, not divisive, nasty and misleading smears from an out-of-touch and failing government."

Shadow work and pensions secretary Liam Byrne said the Government's universal credit scheme had become "universal chaos".

He said: "George Osborne's last Budget was such a disaster that more than a third of a million extra people are now forecast to join the dole queue."