Welfare reform - policy and presentation

It's fascinating what you can learn from the most unlikely sources.

The readership stats on this blog show that in the past 48 hours the most read post has been one from nearly five years ago entitled

"Matthew Parris says he failed on purpose."

This should not be a surprise: this week as very controversal changes to benefits are introduced the Work and Pensions secretary said he could live on £53 a week. Many years ago the then Tory MP Matthew Parris tried something similar and admitted he couldn't do it.

Except that actually he could have: but he abandoned the attempt on the grounds that, quote,

"I sensed the anger I was arousing among nice Geordies I met, not so much because they disagreed with what I said but because of who I was to say it. It dawned on me that I, a sleek young Tory earning ten times what they did, should not be saying it. Not without giving offence. It was a matter of taste, really. So I decided to fail in my bid."

The problem Matthew was writing about then is central to the problem facing any reforming welfare minister now: how to speak and write about what has to be done about welfare and benefits without it coming over as an attack on the poor.

How to encourage people to aspire higher without it coming over as accusing those on welfare of being to blame for all their misfortunes.

But make no mistake. To have millions of children growing up in households where nobody has had a job for years is a disaster and a massive waste of human potential. And to break the cycle of dependency does not just require jobs to be there, with training and support to help people to take them - it also requires rewards for hard work.

We cannot reasonably expect people to work all the hours God sends in entry-level jobs if they are going to have a lower standard of income while doing so than what is paid, with their taxes, to people on benefits. Saying this is not to accuse everyone on benefits of being a scrounger, it is simply recognising the reality that failure to give any reward at all to those who work is a recipe for national bankruptcy.



Jim said…
I guess you could live on £53 per week if you based all prices on House of Commons bars and eateries, and placed all your travel on expenses. Sorry could not resist that one.

Fact is though that work must always be a preferable option to welfare. Welfare is a safety net, it ensures no one starves or freezes to death, and they can maintain their own dignity (Keep clean, have non worn out clothing etc) Its a safety net, a net no one can ever fall below, but everyone can rise above.

The raise in tax free allowance will help, thats a good start, thought there is a long way to go yet to ending the welfare trap.

I only wish we had a system that allowed real reform to happen. I am not really interested anymore in going over the "your party did this", "your party caused that", "Your party is doing wrong", - without suggesting anything meaningful as to what right is.

Perhaps its time the 2 year olds in the house of commons actually stopped the pointless name calling, bickering, and down right stupidity. started actually answering questions (Preferably the question that is asked of them, god forbid)

Then they could actually work out that government needs to shrink in size,and public spending needs to fall rather drastically. The free market will fix the problem if they only let it.

Government interference and borrowing got us into this mess, and its most certainly not government interference and borrowing that will get us out of it.

Perhaps it really is time that west minster grow up a little, forget about who's turn it is to run the train set, and let the country sort itself out. I know that the politicians hate nothing more than being irrelevant, but that's were the grow up part comes in.

Do what you are there to do, enforce law and order. forget the rest, the market will take care of that.

we are so close to a drastic Greece or Cyprus style collapse its terrifying. Whislt some public sector employees wont be happy in the short term, they will be much better off in the long, gold plated pensions are over. Unions will kick off something rotten, but then they live in la-la land anyway.

In short POLITICIANS - It really is time to grow up, and do your "fair share" to help this nation.

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