By Matthew Barrett
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Welfare reform is one of the Government's favourite rallying calls, and rightly so. There is a basic sense of justice and fair play that causes most Britons to feel repulsed by the situation Labour allowed to come about, in which an out of work household could claim benefits greater than the average wage (£26,000) for households who do work.
Another part of the benefits system which many people consider unjust is the principle of allowing people to claim from the welfare system without ever having contributed to the state.
One right-minded Minister who has consistently stood up for taxpayers and attacked these unfair and outdated welfare policies, despite plenty of left-wing attacks, is Chris Grayling. Mr Grayling has written an article for the Evening Standard today, announcing a rather exciting London-wide trial scheme – which he will launch with Boris Johnson:
"Later this year we will begin a scheme where we will ask young Londoners signing on for the first time to do three months of full time community work in return for their benefits. As part of the scheme, they will also receive support in looking for jobs and getting themselves ready for the world of work. Every young person who has done less than six months previous work will be asked to take part – and if they refuse they will not be able to claim benefits."
Mr Grayling frames the debate in these terms:
"Most young people are trying very hard to find work – and we should make sure that they get immediate help to do so. But there are some who really are sitting at home and putting little effort into moving on in life. … A something for nothing culture does no one any favours. It makes those who are doing the right thing cynical. And for those who head straight into the welfare state, it sets them out in life on precisely the wrong footing."
Mr Grayling further says that he thinks the scheme "has every chance of giving those young people a much better start", and, depending on the results of the trial, a nationwide version could be rolled out.
Mr Grayling, who, as previously mentioned, has experience of being attacked by the left, pre-empts Labour attacks on the scheme:
"Of course the usual suspects will cry “slave labour”. They always do. But they are the people who believe that young claimants have the right to sit at home playing computer games. We simply disagree."
Any extension of the just and fair principle that you should only be able to take out from the system after you have contributed to it is welcome. One hopes this scheme is successful, and becomes another policy the Government can use to say it is changing Britain's welfare culture for the better.