Ben­e­fits - it’s all about fair­ness

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Westminster Life - Ste­wart Jack­son

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

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