The controversial Orot Letaasuka program, also known as the Wisconsin Plan, will soon be shut down, following its rejection Thursday by a Knesset committee. Participants will return to receiving services from government-run employment offices.
Members of the Knesset's Labor, Welfare and Health Committee voted to end the program. The committee rejected a request from Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz to extend the program for one more year.
The Wisconsin Plan, launched in Israel in 2004, aimed to increase participation in the workforce by forcing welfare recipients to find employment. The program was run by private companies, which had the goal of getting thousands of people off the benefits list.
Participants were required to spend time each week in a Wisconsin Plan employment center. Those who could not find work were often required to take on full-time volunteer work in order to continue receiving state benefits.
Critics accused the companies of forcing welfare recipients off the benefits list even if they had not managed to find suitable employment.
Former participants in the plan have been asked to report to their local government-run employment offices beginning on May 9 in order to ensure that they continue receiving benefits. The Israel National Employment Services will administer tests aimed at helping welfare recipients find employment.