The government has announced that prisoners will receive specialist support to help them find work once they complete their sentence. Ministers said the aim was to help prisoners in England, Wales and Scotland find a job as quickly as possible and to stop them reoffending.
Everyone leaving prison and claiming jobseeker's allowance will immediately be referred to the Government's Work Programme.
Official figures for England and Wales showed that half of ex-offenders were on out-of-work benefits two years after being released from prison in 2008.
Employment minister Chris Grayling said:
"Getting former offenders into work is absolutely crucial to tackling our crime challenge. The rate of reoffending in Britain is far too high and we have to reduce it.
"In the past we just sent people out on to the same streets where they offended in the first place with virtually no money and very little support. We're now working to change that."