Andrew Percy

Andrew Percy

Former Member of Parliament for Brigg & Goole and the Isle of Axholme

Ensuring fairness in our Welfare System

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Andrew Percy MP has welcomed the Government’s shake up of our welfare system, the most radical in 60 years. The Welfare Bill and Work Programme deliver on a number of Conservative election promises to mark the beginning of a new era of 21st century welfare.

 

At the election, the Conservatives promised to work to reduce the high marginal tax rates faced by people on low incomes who want to return to work or increase their earnings. The Welfare Bill the Government introduced this week delivers on that promise. The Universal Credit will simplify the system, ensuring it will always pay to work.

 

The Conservatives also made a promise to impose sanctions to remove benefits from those who will not take work when it is offered and they have delivered on that promise as well. If you’re unemployed and refuse to take either a reasonable job or to do some work in your community in return for your unemployment benefit, you will lose your benefits for three months.

 

The Government will also ensure fairness for taxpayers by introducing an annual cap ensuring no family can get more in benefits than the average family earns by going out to work.

 

Andrew says: "These reforms show that this Government is on the side of people who want to get ahead. These measures will get people into work and will reform the welfare system to ensure that work always pays and no one can say they are better off on benefits."

 

ENDS

 

 

Notes to editors

The Welfare Bill has introduced:

 

  • Universal Credit. The Universal Credit has a simple ambition – to make work pay, especially for the poorest. This credit, to be introduced in 2013, will combine Jobseeker’s Allowance, Housing Benefit, Child Tax Credit, Working Tax Credit, Income Support and Employment Support Allowance into one payment to make it easier for people to see they will be consistently and transparently better off for each hour they work and every pound they earn.

 

  • Welfare cap. It is not fair that households on out of work benefits should receive a greater income from the state than the average working household receives in wages. We will therefore introduce a cap linked to average weekly earnings, which will limit the amount of benfits a household can receive.

  • Claimant contract. All those claiming benefits will have to sign a claimant contract which includes a pledge to turn up for appointments and interviews and take up reasonable offers of work where and when they are offered it.

 

  • Personal Independence Payment. This will replace the Disability Living Allowance and will be supported by a new assessment which makes greater use of evidence, enabling us to more accurately and consistently assess individuals to determine who will benefit most from additional support.

 

  • Tackling benefit fraud. Benefit fraud under the current system costs the taxpayer £5.2 billion a year. New measures to tackle fraud will include tougher rules, with a benefit ban of three years for people who offend repeatedly. A single investigation service and a new regional taskforce will be set up each and every claim in high fraud areas, along with Civil Penalties.

 

  • Limit Employment Support Allowance. We will place a 12 month time-limit on contributory Employment Support Allowance to underline the principle that ESA claimants are expected to move towards the workplace. Those with low or no other sources of income would qualify for income related Employment Support Allowance once their contributory ESA had ended.

Labour Failed the country on Welfare

 

  • Benefits system costs every working family £3,000 each year after 13 years of Labour. Expenditure on working-age benefits increased from £44.961 billion in 1997-98 to £48.204 billion in 2009-10 (at 2010-11 prices) – a £3.243 billion increase in real-terms (DWP, Benefit expenditure tables, Table 1). There are 16.5 million working households (ONS, Household and family participation in the labour market, September 2010, Table 1, link). So every working household’s annual benefits bill increased by £197 in real-terms under Labour. This means every working household’s annual benefits bill has now reached £2,920.

 

  • Workless households increased under Labour. In April to June 1997, there were 3.7 million workless households where no one aged over 16 worked. In April to June 2010, there were 3.9 million – a 200,000 increase (ONS, Labour Force Survey Household dataset: Workless Households by type of households, 6 September 2010).

 

  • Two million children living in workless households condemned to poverty by Labour. 1.9 million children under 16 lived in workless households in the UK between January and December 2009 (ONS, Children in Workless Households by local area, 2009).

 

  • 1.4 million people spent most of the last decade on out-of-work benefits. 1.4 million people have been on an out‑of‑work benefit for nine or more of the last 10 years and around 2.6 million people spent at least five years years on some form of out‑of‑work benefit (Cabinet Office, State of the Nation, 3 June 2010, p. 34).

 

  • The maximum Housing Benefit award has reached £104,000 per year. Labour subsidised people to live in the private sector on rents that other ordinary working families could not afford. The maximum Housing Benefit award reached £104,000 per year under the current system (Hansard, 6 September 2010, Col. 80WA).

 

Ed Miliband was a key architect of Labour’s failed welfare policy

  • ‘Ed Miliband, the chancellor’s special adviser, concentrates on welfare... reduction’ (Guardian, 15 April 2002).

 

  • ‘Where Mr Balls tends to look at the big picture, Ed Miliband is more concerned with the detailed micro-measures which flesh out Labour’s... welfare to work strategies’ (Guardian, 9 November 1999).

 

  • [Ed] ‘Miliband provides the hardcore number crunching for many of Brown’s reforms – particularly on social policies such as the working families tax credit and the New Deals’ (Guardian, 15 April 2002).

 

  • ‘His [Ed Miliband’s] responsibilities at the Treasury – tax credits, welfare to work and public spending’ (The Scotsman, 26 July 2002).

Tony Blair, James Purnell and Frank Field admit Labour failed to reform welfare

 

  • Tony Blair: ‘It’s really hard to say this…Yet I look at those policy papers now – the work on…the use of social security budgets… and I do think how different it would have been if we had done it… But there it is. It didn’t happen, and that is it’ (A Journey, pp 656-7).

 

  • James Purnell, Labour’s former Work and Pensions Secretary: ‘Iain Duncan Smith’s universal credit, the plan to merge many current benefits into one, is a good reform... Before I resigned from the Cabinet, I proposed a similar plan to Mr Brown. But he was scared that there would be losers, and his refusal to give me any answer made me think that there was no point in staying inside the Government to try to influence him’ (The Times, 9 November 2010).

 

  • Frank Field ,former Labour welfare minister – Labour’s flagship welfare policy was ‘an expensive failure’: ‘first we must acknowledge that the Government’s New Deal and “making work pay” strategies have failed to get many unemployed people into work, even at the height of the boom. It has been an expensive failure – various tax credit schemes and New Deal projects have cost the taxpayer £75 billion since 1997’ (The Times, 20 February 2009).

 

Labour oppose cutting the ballooning welfare budget

 

  • Labour say welfare must take its share of deficit reduction. ‘welfare has to take its share of responsibility for dealing with the deficit’ (Douglas Alexander, The Andrew Marr Show, 24 October 2010).

 

  • But Labour oppose Coalition measures designed to ensure welfare takes its share of deficit reduction. ‘the £18 billion of benefit cuts and labour market prospects of the next few years... hit the incomes of working people hard, which... delivers a huge blow to the living standards of ordinary families’ (Douglas Alexander, Speech to the IPPR, 5 November 2010).

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