Benefits - it’s all about fairness
On Tuesday, I spoke in the debate on the Welfare Uprating Bill and voted for it in the House of Commons. Labour voted against capping benefits at one percent for the next three years but were unable to say how they would find the money saved in welfare payments.
They also complained about a cap on public sector salaries at one per cent too but they wouldn’t say what spending they’d cut to finance an alternative policy.
Rebalancing public support for welfare and making work pay is I admit a contentious issue and those who choose not to work ( admittedly a minority), whilst working taxpayers support their lifestyle choice, was a big issue at the last General Election.
People are not mean spir- ited but they prize fairness and that’s why the government’s welfare cap of £ 26,000 a year makes sense for most reasonable people in Peterboroug
Under Labour, our welfare system spiralled out of control with the welfare bill rising by 60 per cent, costing every household in Britain an extra £ 3000 a year.
The shame of it is that sensible Labour people know in their hearts that the we lf a restate needs reforming if it is to truly help t he most needy.
In the last five years, those on out of work benefits have seen their incomes rise almost twice as fast as people in work – at a rate of 20 per cent compared to an increase in average earnings of only 12per cent. Last year we boosted benefits by 5.2per cent.
Most welfare claimants are of course not scroungers and people have a “there but for the grace of God go I” attitude and understand that many people fall on hard times occasionally, but they do also have a sense of what is right and wrong.
For me, this vote was above all about fairness.
Why s hould the taxpayer pay more to sustain welfare payments while at the same time earning less?
In addition, it was about sending a powerful message that work should always pay and that we haven’t got just an economic but a moral responsibility too to help people into work and they and their families out of the misery and hopelessness of welfare dependency.
That’s why I’m pleased that the increase in tax allowances from April will help those on low and modest incomes.
It’s no good voting time and again against everything this government is doing to get welfare spending under control without a Plan B.
It’s never a good idea to take the voters for fools and promise jam tomorrow without a price tag.
And whilst these tough decisions aren’t easy, most people know that instinctively they’re both fair and right.
Peterborough’s MP writes his regular column for the Peterborough Telegraph