Yesterday evening ConservativeHome published a ten point briefing to the Coalition's historic welfare reform. On Platform today Chris Grayling MP, Minister for Employment, explains the reforms.
There’s no point being in Government if you can’t make a difference.
And if you don’t arrive in Government determined to act quickly and effectively, before you know it the chance will be gone.
That’s why reform can’t hang around. And nowhere is reform more needed than in our welfare state.
Worklessness in Britain today isn’t simply a consequence of recession. Of course unemployment has risen sharply because of the economic difficulties of the past two years – and that has to be tackled. But even in the good economic years of the past decade, when millions of people managed to come to the UK from overseas and find work, some five million people in this country remained stranded on benefits. One in five households had no one in work.
We arrived in Government with one big plan for reform already well developed. The Work Programme, which we will launch in 2011, and for which contracting is already well under way, will transform the welfare to work landscape. It will put an end to the situation where anyone who can work will be able to sit at home on benefits doing nothing. There will be much better back-to-work support available to claimants, but if they refuse to use that support, they will lose their benefits.
But five months into Government, the Work Programme is no longer the only key welfare reform in town. The plan to replace our creaking benefit system with a new, single Universal Credit will transform the welfare landscape in Britain.
The Universal Credit is based on a simple premise – that work should pay for everyone in all circumstances. We have to end the absurd situation where people doing more for themselves and their families can end up losing 95p in the pound of the extra money they earn, as they lose benefits and tax credits, and pay more tax. Under the new system, that can no longer happen. Instead, state support will taper away at a constant rate as people work more hours or move up the income scale.
The concept for the Credit has not come out of the blue. It was worked on in detail before the election by Iain Duncan Smith’s team at the Centre for Social Justice. But having watched the last few months from the inside, I cannot help but be impressed by the way in which he has turned his vision into a tangible plan for action. And, I should say, by the way a team of sometimes maligned civil servants have risen to the challenge of planning massive change.
The desire for radical change to our welfare system is to be found right across the coalition. A welfare state is not somewhere that people should live – unless circumstance has made it impossible for them to work. Instead it should be a ladder up which people climb. To escape the cycle of deprivation and poverty that has dogged so many of our communities over the past, long thirteen years.
We now have our vision of change firmly in place. Now the task is to deliver it.