Big debate: Welfare Benefits Up-rating Bill

PUBLISHED: 17:33 16 January 2013 | UPDATED: 17:33 16 January 2013

Cllr Alec Kellaway, executive member for business and skills, Newham Council

Cllr Alec Kellaway, executive member for business and skills, Newham Council


Two viewpoints of the Coalition government’s one per cent cap on benefit rises in the next three years

The irony of the bill they have just passed is that it not only attacks the unemployed, but also those who work hard for a low wage.

The bill means that costs will rise faster than the tax credits they receive, so that nurses, primary school teachers, and others on modest incomes will lose out despite being in work.

With the costs of food and energy rising, making ends meet has become harder for those both in and out of work.

Rather than tackling the problem of low wages and high living costs, and creating more jobs to get the economy going, the government has chosen to attack the poorest section of our society.

Instead of cutting welfare to those who need it most, Labour would get people back to work: paying taxes, reducing our welfare bill and boosting the economy.

In Newham, we are already doing this. When Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls recently announced a Labour government would introduce a job guarantee plan for long-term claimants over 25, he did so from Newham, where we fund our own jobs brokerage scheme – Workplace – with a proven track record of getting people into work.

The Conservatives have made the vulnerable in our society a scapegoat for their failure to revive the economy, and are distracting us from the real issue at hand – helping people into long-term work that pays properly.

Peter Golds is leader of Tower Hamlets Council’s Conservative group.

Almost one in every three pounds raised in taxes is being spent on welfare. That is more than the budgets for Health, Education and Defence combined. Whilst one in every three pounds raised in taxes is being spent on welfare, we have a national debt of over a trillion pounds and a budget deficit of £170 billion left by the last Labour Government.

Therefore it is only fair that everyone pays their part in reducing the deficit and then eventually the debt; which includes some people on benefits. How can it be fair that someone working full-time can be financially worse off than someone who is not working? Over the last five years those on out of work benefits have seen their income increase by 20% while those in work have seen their income only rise by 12%.

Let us also look at what Liam Byrne MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State has said on this subject at a meeting last year: “We are the Labour Party. The party that said idleness is an evil. The Party of workers, not shirkers”

The same Labour Shadow Minister who told the Labour Party Conference in 2011; “Many people on the doorstep at the last election felt that too often we were for shirkers, not workers”

He even left a letter for his successor when he left office in 2010 which said; “Dear Chief Secretary, I am afraid to tell you, there is no money left.”

Given the scale of our national debt and deficit left by the last labour Government I believe it is only fair that everyone pays their fair share towards paying down the deficit.

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