Highlights from Chris Grayling’s speech on welfare reform to Policy Exchange this lunchtime:
No-one benefits from being on benefits: "For some there is no option. For some disability makes it impossible to work. For single parents with young, pre-school children, parenthood is a full-time job. For those people, our benefits system is a must. The help the state provides is a lifeline. That must never change. But for those who can work, in whatever capacity, the story should be very different. No one’s life is enhanced by being paid to sit at home and do nothing. The welfare state must, for most of us, be a safety net and not a way of life."
The nonsense of bringing migrant workers into areas with high levels of unemployment benefit: "I’m not one of those who believe that the welfare to work issue is simply one about benefit scroungers. The problems and issues are far deeper than that. But it is a complete nonsense to have an area like the West Country with amongst the highest levels of young people not in education, employment or training when local businesses have to import the labour they need from overseas."
Running a bit late on getting people off incapacity: "We have 2.7 million people on incapacity benefit. Ministers privately admit that a large proportion of them could work. But the support programmes they have set up, particularly Pathways to Work, will only apply to new claimants and a tiny proportion of the existing ones. Yet Ministers still have a target of getting a million people off incapacity benefit by 2016. At the current rate of progress, they are running 25 years late."
What Conservative proposals in January will expect of people:
"We will be tough on those who are reluctant to start working to get
back into work. We will expect people to take part in welfare to work
programmes. We will expect single parents who can work to start doing
so as their children get older… we will expect people to take a job
if there is a reasonable option available. If they won’t, then the
state cannot be expected to simply continue to support them through
Tackling our skills shortage:
"We know that Britain faces skill shortages, and is having to import
migrant workers from overseas to fill gaps in both skilled and
unskilled jobs. And yet we continue to commit vast amounts of our
nation’s wealth on supporting people outside the workforce. In no sense
can that be logical. Gordon Brown knew it ten years ago, but he has
failed to find a solution."
David Freud, the author of a DWP report on welfare reform,
also spoke at length about the problems with our welfare state and
advocated a more "output-based rewards structure", saying: "the
top-down systems don’t work, you need to individualise."