Both the Telegraph and Times carry reports this morning about Tory plans for "radical welfare reform". On Tuesday David Cameron is expected to announce a Green Paper that will include the policies summarised in the graphic on the right.
Many of these ideas come out of Iain Duncan Smith’s social justice report and will now be developed by Chris Grayling, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.
The Tories are thought to have decided against time-limiting benefits; a US-style reform that Frank Field regards as essential, according to The Times.
There are currently 2.6 million people on incapacity benefit and if the Government succeeds in its target of reducing that number to 1.6 million, the savings to the taxpayer would theoretically be £9bn. But such savings are very unlikely, however. American experience suggests that the long-term unemployed need costly assistance over many years as they move away from habits of worklessness.
The Conservative initiatives are welcomed in a Telegraph leader. Even Simon Heffer is mildly encouraged but he calls for the Tories to go further still:
"If the Tories were to address all these factors – rigorously improving schools (including the expansion of grammar schools, which would have a trickle-down effect), demanding not merely stricter immigration controls but the expulsion of all illegal immigrants, removing benefits from all who refuse jobs and abolishing the minimum wage – then I would call for three cheers for Dave."
Earlier this week Migration Watch issued a report which found that "the effect of benefit levels combined with means testing of benefits for those who are working means that there is little financial incentive for people with families living on benefits to find employment." Migration Watch continues: "This may partly explain why, despite there being 3.5 million people on Jobseekers Allowance or Incapacity Benefit, some 1.3 million immigrants have come to work in the UK in the past ten years."
Related links: Just before Christmas Chris Grayling spoke to Policy Exchange about his general approach to welfare reform and on today’s Platform Ben Rogers discusses the extent of Britain’s ‘broken society’.