Bury South needs social security reform and only Labour can deliver it
There are far too many people in Bury South without a job and the Tories’ economic failure means their potential is being wasted. But we are also wasting far too much money on a social security system that is no longer fit for purpose.
A future Labour Government will have to govern with much less money and if we want to protect the NHS and turn our economy around then we have to be laser-focused on how we spend every single pound.
Ed Miliband has this week outlined a new approach to social security with four main points – finding work for everyone who can work, tackling low pay, rewarding those who have contributed more and spending money on houses instead of housing benefit.
Firstly, this country needs to be a nation where people who can work, do work and not a country where people who can work are on benefits. But the Tories have allowed long term worklessness to rise to its highest level for a generation while youth unemployment alone cost Britain £5 billion last year.
Labour would control social security spending by limiting the amount of time people can spend out of work through our Compulsory Jobs Guarantee and help unemployed parents prepare for the world of work as soon as their children reach the age of three or four.
But reform of social security needs to work both ways. People often don’t get paid enough in work to make ends meet and the taxpayer is left to fill the gap through tax credits. There are far too many people who are in work but also in poverty and this needs to change so that welfare spending is no longer a substitute for decent jobs and decent pay.
Today the welfare state, through housing benefit, bears the cost for our failure to build enough homes. When not enough homes are built it is inevitable that tenants end up paying over the odds and so does the taxpayer through the housing benefit bill. We can’t afford to pay billions to private landlords who can charge ever-rising rents when we should be building homes to bring down the bill instead. We have to start investing in homes again and unlike the Tories, this is a Labour priority.
Finally, parts of the public are often distrustful of a social security system that appears to give some people something for nothing and other people nothing for something. For example, somebody who loses their job gets the same job-seeker support whether they’ve been in work for two years or forty. That can’t be right so we’re looking at ways to reward those who have worked for longer, paid into the system and suddenly found themselves out of work.
It is only by controlling social security spending that we’ll be able to limit costs and ensure the next generation in Bury South inherit a sustainable social security system that always rewards work. Labour is the party of work, and it is our job to make it happen.
Ivan Lewis MP
Member of Parliament for Bury South