How many of us would feel happier about paying our taxes if we felt the Government was as eager about spending the money wisely and carefully as it seems eager to collect taxes from us?

The amazing incredulous truth is that every penny of income tax the Government collects from us each year it spends on welfare benefits! …..and billions more besides!

The figures are :

Income tax collected each year £160 billion

Welfare benefit payments each year £169 billion

In an era when hundreds of thousands of people can travel to the UK and apparently find jobs with not too much trouble, it seems incredible that welfare benefit spending can be so high. So incredible, that the Government now feels compelled to do something about it. The Government announced its long awaited plans for welfare reform last week.

Under the new proposals anyone claiming unemployment benefit for more than a year will have to carry out at least four weeks of unpaid work. Those claiming benefit for more than two years will be compelled to work in the community full-time.

The plans – in a welfare green paper published on the 21st July 2008 – are based on tough American “work for dole” schemes.

The announcement was welcomed by the Conservatives who claimed that the Government had copied many of their ideas but pledged to support the legislation when voted on in Parliament. So support across Parliament for the reforms.

Also to be introduced

  • Incapacity benefit will be replaced with a new “employment and support allowance”.
  • Claimants will no longer be assessed by their own GPs but will have to go through an independent medical assessment to assess what work they can undertake.
  • The new allowance will be a temporary benefit for all but the most severely disabled.
  • Drug addicts will also have to disclose their dependency and will have to undergo treatment or forfeit their benefits.
  • Single parents with children aged seven or more will also be expected to seek work.

The Work and Pensions Secretary, James Purnell, described the proposals as the biggest shake-up to welfare in Britain since the Beveridge report in 1942, which introduced benefits for families and the unemployed after the Second World War. Mr Purnell said: “The longer people claim, the more we will expect in return…Work works and it is only fair that we make sure a life on benefits is not an option.”

“We reached the situation in the 1980s where there were no requirements on people claiming unemployment benefit.”

” Incapacity Benefit ….traps people on benefits – it pays people more, the longer they stay on, without giving them the support to get back into work.”

The private sector will play a key role in the new welfare system. After a year of claiming unemployment benefit, claimants will be handed to selected private sector providers who will ensure they undertake a rigorous programme of training, job interviews and voluntary work. Claimants will be forced to carry out voluntary work if they are suspected of shirking offers of work. The private firms will receive bonuses of up to £50,000 for each claimant who is successfully returned to the workforce. The bonus will reduce if the claimant does not speedily return to work.

Shadow Secretary for Work and Pensions, Chris Grayling said: “We very much agree with the package of reforms the Government is proposing. It’s particularly helpful that they’re bringing them forward now because we always expected the reforms to take a couple of years to prepare before being ready to yield results.”

“So in reality what this announcement means is that the next Government will inherit a set of proposals that have been turned into action and are ready to bring about real change to our welfare state.”