The long-term unemployed in Sussex will have three month courses of intensive nine-to-five supervision to get them back into work.

Benefits claimants with poor motivation and job-hunting skills will get help applying for jobs, writing cover letters and CVs and with interview techniques.

They will also be coached on work behaviour such as attendance, time-keeping and routine.

Claimants selected for the pilot must take part or risk losing their benefits for up to three years.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) trial will run from October at jobcentres across Sussex in Brighton, Hove, Worthing, Lewes, Newhaven, Eastbourne, Bexhill, Hastings, Haywards Heath, Crawley, Horsham, Littlehampton, Bognor and Chichester.

The DWP said people with caring responsibilities or single parents may not be expected to attend for the full 35 hours a week.

Supervision will be delivered by private companies at jobcentres and paid according to performance.

If successful the scheme could be rolled out across the country.

Employment Minister Esther McVey said: “It’s right we ask claimants to do everything they can to look for work in return for their benefits, and this pilot is testing how we provide that extra support to those whose motivation or job hunting skills get in the way of finding a job.

“A life on benefits for those who can work is no longer an option, and as part of the Government’s long-term economic plan, we’re helping those who aspire to the security of a regular wage and the chance to develop a career.”

But the boss of a housing trust doubted the scheme would work given DWP’s “appalling” track record.

Andy Winter, chief executive of Brighton Housing Trust (BHT), said: “I support anything that genuinely helps people back into work but I don’t think this is it. “The DWP has an appalling track record of bold schemes which don’t work, such as the Work Programme, which is proving to be a gigantic waste of money and is failing to help people into jobs. Claimants receive little practical help and nothing is tailored to their individual needs.

“At BHT we have run our intern programme for almost two years. In the first year 19 of the 39 participants got permanent employment within six months. We received no government funding.

“Meanwhile the Work Programme has continued to have money poured into it. I fear the same will be true of this new scheme.”