Gary's News and views

Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon

Gary writes a weekly article which appears in the Plympton Plymstock and Ivybridge News in South West Devon. The articles are published here.


Thursday, 18 November 2010

The most common reaction I am receiving from constituents to the benefit changes that the coalition has recently announced is: it's about time!
A few years ago the prevailing mood was that more needed to be done for all benefit claimants. How things change. The mood is much more discerning these days. We all want to support – generously – people who need our help whether for a short period of unemployment or sickness, or in same sad cases a prolonged run in with serious disability. We want to go the extra mile for such people .That will never change.
But most of us are sick and tired of: people who could work but who are claiming incapacity benefit and/or people who have never worked and have no intention of working and feel the world owes them a living.
We are determined to tackle this and in doing so I am confident we have captured the mood of the nation. A life on benefit should never be more lucrative than a life of work. People who live on benefits should have to face the same stark choices as the rest of us. That is why we are changing the housing benefit rules to put a cap on the amount you can claim. This will mean that in some cases new claimants will not be able to live in the poshest places. I remember when Jan and I first moved to Plymouth. We fell in love with Yealmpton and wanted to move there. We could not afford it, so Peverell it was. We have since clawed our way out to Plympton and there it seems we will stay.
It is human nature to play to a system. There will always be a hardcore minority who will abuse a comprehensive system. This creates two main problems.  First, it costs hard working tax payers a lot more than it should to run such a scheme. Second, welfare dependency delivers a life that falls well short of the potential that we have as human beings. It is bad for the country and the individuals concerned.
Everything vacillates in politics. There is a problem (poverty) to which there is a solution (welfare state) which in turn leads to a further problem (welfare dependency) which in turn must be tackled. That is our now mission. No doubt it will create unintended consequences that future generations must resolve. But for now, the force is with us.

posted by Gary @ 09:22