Welfare system is safety net

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One of the major changes in legislation that we are currently debating in Parliament is the Welfare Reform Bill.

I make no apologies for viewing the welfare system as a safety net.

Welfare should be available to help those who have fallen on hard times and need support in getting through difficulties, illnesses or disabilities.

However, it is a sad but well-known fact that the current welfare system discourages those in low-paid jobs from increasing their hours, as rates of tax and benefit reductions often leave them worse off.

Many constituents I have spoken to in Fleetwood tell me that they would love to work more hours, but they can’t as they would actually be worse off. This ridiculous situation seems to hold people back who are trying to get on while leaving some people, either by design or accident, stuck in the benefits system.

In addition, hard-working, taxpaying families, who are feeling the squeeze in these difficult economic times, should not be subsidising the small, but still significant, number of people in our society who see the welfare system as a career choice.

That must stop.

We are hoping by setting an annual limit to the amount of benefit anyone person can claim, withdrawing support from those who refuse to work and increasing the financial incentives for those who do work, the Bill includes specific measures that will make work pay.

The changes outlined in the Welfare Reform Bill will hopefully ensure that we can get some confidence back into the system to support those who are in genuine need.