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Labour's Legacy

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Labour's Legacy

Post  Panda on Thu 25 Apr - 6:14

Labour’s legacy

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith's report exposes the last
government's flawed welfare policies

Iain Duncan Smith: his report
illustrates that bad welfare policies have severe long-term effects
Photo: Geoff

By Telegraph View

8:43PM BST 24 Apr 2013


Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, has released a report
showing that about one million people are stuck on long-term, work-related
benefits. The figure’s size confirms that welfare is an area in which the
Government can and must make savings. The steps that it has already taken – such
as replacing the Disability Living Allowance with the more targeted Personal
Independence Payment – deserve applause.

Of course, reforming an elephantine institution is a slow and complex task,
fraught with potential error. Mr Duncan Smith is rolling out a Universal Credit
scheme, which merges several benefits into a single payment. It is a noble idea,
but presents enormous and worrying challenges in terms of delivery.
Nevertheless, at least Mr Duncan Smith is trying to do something to rein in
spending. Ed Miliband, by contrast, has criticised every one of the Government’s
proposals. His “opposition for opposition’s sake” is not only irresponsible but
politically short-sighted. Even some of his own MPs are talking about the need
to introduce a contributory principle to welfare.

Mr Duncan Smith’s report highlights something else that Labour is reluctant
to discuss: the economic and social impact of family breakdown. It includes the
astonishing claim that almost two thirds of children living in the poorest
households do not live with both parents. The strains in our welfare system, and
in our housing stock, are part of the price we pay for social breakdown – a
breakdown that correlates to Labour’s welfare policies when in power. Its
Working Families Tax Credit, for example, hiked the benefits available to single
mothers who sought employment. This was followed by a 160 per cent rise in the
rate of divorce or separation among women whose partners did little or no paid
work. Bad policy can have terrible long-term consequences.
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