British government plans major welfare overhaul

Britain's government says unemployed people who refuse to go back to work will have their benefits cut off for up to three years under sweeping reforms to the welfare system.

Prime Minister David Cameron says those who "persistently reject work" should lose their 65 pounds ($105) weekly welfare payment.

The government is unveiling plans Thursday to cut 8 billion pounds ($29 billion) from Britain's welfare bill.

Officials say they will simplify the complex system, replacing a patchwork of benefits with a single payment, and may make some jobless do community work such as street cleaning in return for their welfare check.

Britain, a nation of over 60 million people, has about 5 million on unemployment benefits, including about 1.4 million who have drawn welfare for a decade.