Date: 13th January 2007
Release date: Immediate
Subject: Gordon Henderson: “Welfare reform must be handled in a way that does not demonise those who are genuinely incapacitated.”
Local Tory Parliamentary Candidate, Gordon Henderson, says that he supports policies that are designed to reduce long-term welfare dependency, tackle long-term poverty and re-create stable families, but is urging that any reform is handled in a way that does not demonise those people who are genuinely incapacitated.
The policy ideas entitled “Work for Welfare” were launched recently by Conservative leader, David Cameron. They aim to help people find fulfilling jobs, while continuing to support those who genuinely cannot work. Currently across Sittingbourne & Sheppey, there are 4170 people on Incapacity Benefit and 1480 on Jobseeker’s Allowance. Under the new Conservative proposals:
· Respect for those who cannot work: Recipients of Incapacity Benefit who really cannot work will receive continued support and will remain outside the return-to-work process.
· Employment for those who can: Every out-of-work benefit claimant will be expected to work or prepare for work. There will be a comprehensive programme of support for job seekers including training, development and work experience. Welfare-to-work services will be provided by the private and voluntary sectors on a payment by results basis.
· Assessments for those claiming benefits: There will be rapid assessments of all new and existing claimants for out-of-work benefits.
· Limits to claiming out of work benefits: People who refuse to join a return-to-work programme will lose the right to claim out-of-work benefits until they do. People who refuse to accept reasonable job offers could lose the right to claim out-of-work benefits.
· Community work: Those who claim for more than two years out of three will be required to help out on community work programmes.
· End Tax Credit discrimination. The savings from these reforms will be used to end the discrimination against couples in the Tax Credits system.
Mr Henderson said:
‘We need real welfare reform that will help reverse the disastrous rise in family breakdown and tackle the persistent and often hidden poverty that shames our nation.
‘The current welfare system is simply not working. Higher numbers of Incapacity Benefit claimants and youth unemployment that is far too high, shows that the policies of the last ten years have failed. It’s time for change.
‘Rather than Whitehall taking responsibility away from people and making them dependent, we need to help people across Sittingbourne & Sheppey take responsibility for themselves and achieve success and independence.
‘However, any welfare reform must be handled in a way that does not demonise those who are genuinely incapacitated and those who find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own.’
Notes to Editors
The full ‘Green Paper’ entitled ‘Work for Welfare’was launched on 8 January and can be found at: http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=news.story.page&obj_id=141498
BRITAIN’S FAILING WELFARE SYSTEM
· Failing New Deal: This Government treats people like statistics rather than human beings. Its ‘New Deal’ takes a prescriptive, central government approach, and has cost the taxpayer more than £3 billion. Yet is has become a revolving door back on to benefits: nearly 50 per cent of young job seekers who have left the New Deal for Young People end up back on benefits within a year (Hansard, 10 July 2006, col. 1599W).
· Millions left behind: Whitehall Ministers have no plans to help over 2 million people already claiming Incapacity Benefit. Under Labour, someone on Incapacity Benefit for more than 2 years is more likely to die or retire than get a job (Department of Work and Pensions Press Release, 15 March 2007).
· 4 out of 5 new jobs go to migrant workers: The Government boasts about the millions of new jobs it has ‘created’. But a simple, devastating fact is now clear from all the official statistics: as many as 80 per cent of new jobs created in the past ten years have gone to migrant workers despite having 4.8 million people on out of work benefits (Statistics Commission, Briefing Note – Foreign Workers, December 2007; DWP, Quarterly Statistical Summary, November2007).
· More broken homes than almost anywhere in Europe: The UK has by far the highest proportion of lone parents in Europe, and one of the highest rates of family breakdown in Europe (Social Justice Policy Group, Breakdown Britain, 26 March 2007). Yet we have a couple penalty in the benefits system making families better off if they split up.
The table below shows the number of Incapacity Benefit and Job Seekers Allowance claimants in each Parliamentary constituency in Kent, as of May 2007.
Sources: Deparment for Work & Pensions datasets
Chatham and Aylesford
Faversham and Mid Kent
Folkestone and Hythe
Maidstone and The Weald
Sittingbourne and Sheppey
Tonbridge and Malling