Douglas Carswell

08 JAN 2013

Don't call folk scroungers

Those on benefits have seen their incomes increase almost twice as fast as those earning salaries since 2007.

How come?  Because benefits, unlike most salaries, are not automatically linked to inflation. So while benefits have risen in line with rising prices, many of my constituents have had to work longer, for less.  It doesn't seem fair.

That's why today I will be voting to limit benefit increases to 1 percent. But please, let's not talk about "clamping down on scroungers".

If politicians create a welfare system that produces all kinds of bizarre incentives, we should not blame individuals who then act, from their perspective, entirely rationally. If you are looking to blame anyone, blame those who preside over it in SW1. 

Eight years as a constituency MP has taught me that if some folk do keep the curtains drawn as others get up to go to work, its usually turns out that it is government encouraging things to be that way.          

Over the past ten years, the social security budget in Britain has doubled from £60 billion a year to £111 billion. We now hand out more in welfare cheques every year that the entire national income of Bangladesh, a country of 150 million people.

Yet far from alleviating dependency, or encouraging people to do the right thing, our welfare system often achieves the opposite.

We have a once in a generation opportunity to create a welfare system that works. Given the state of our public finances, I don't think we can afford not to.

But it is unfair to blame those the system was supposed to support, who instead end up as its supplicants.

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