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, 9 July 2015


The UK has 1% of the world's population, 4% of its GDP and 7% of its welfare. Something is out of kilter. At a time where the global centre of gravity moves inexorably eastwards, in a competitive world that owes us no favours, we have to put in place a more sustainable welfare system that we can afford in the long term. We have to get our nation's finances into a healthy shape to negotiate whatever shocks lie around the corner.

So the new mantra - and you will hear it many times in the days to come - is that we must move from a median wage, high tax, high welfare system to a high wage, low tax, low welfare system. It is about time. Every week in my surgery and every day through attitudes expressed in e-mails and letters I see evidence of the corrosive welfare dependency that has dogged us for so long.

This does not mean turning our back on the most vulnerable.  My long term view is that we do not do enough for them. We should do more not less for those who really need our help, especially the genuinely disabled. But we should now make it clear that everybody else must do more to stand on their own two feet.

Our welfare system has never been skilful at determining who is deserving and who is taking us for a ride. That must now improve.
And we must phase out the nonsense of collecting tax from people and then giving it back to some in tax credits.

All of the elements of a high wage, low tax low benefit system are important. We cannot focus on one at the expense of the other. We have to move towards a living wage. To do this we have to keep on growing our economy, investing in education, skills, research and infrastructure. We have to work hard to reduce government spending on things government does not need to do, so we can reduce taxes. We have to skilfully design a welfare system that supports those in need and identifies those who are leaning on us unnecessarily.

All of this will take time and cannot be done without some pain. Our bloated welfare state needs to get off the sofa, turn off daytime TV, put down the popcorn and get moving again. This week's budget was an important first step on in the right direction.

posted by Gary @ 09:32