Labour promise welfare changes with emphasis on contributory principle

Shadow ministers Liam Byrne and Harriet Harman says 'work should pay'

Labour has given some indication of how state benefits would be run if they were to win the general election in 2015, offering incentives to people who "contribute to their community" and promising a change to the status quo under which people "feel they pay an awful lot more in than they ever get back."

The party's shadow work and pensions secretary, Liam Byrne, wrote in the Observer: "Instead of seeking to divide people, we want to ensure everyone plays their part so we can rebuild Britain together.

"There are lots of people right now who feel they pay an awful lot more in than they ever get back.

"That should change. We should start by letting councils give priority in social housing allocations to those who work and contribute to their community."

And the party's deputy leader Harriet Harman also mooted a stronger emphasis on the contributory principle, telling the BBC's Andrew Marr Show: "We're also, ahead of the general election, putting forward three principles:

"One, that work should pay; secondly, that there should be an obligation to take work; and thirdly, that there should be support through a contributory principle for people putting into the system as well as taking out."

Asked if there should be a cap on the number of children the state would support through benefits Ms Harman said: "I don't think that the state should be dictating family size but I do think that the state should support children.

"Rather than trying to encourage women to have children or discourage them from having children, I think its important to actually support children who are born into a family. But also to make sure women and men are in a position to make proper choices about their families."

Since electing Ed Miliband as leader in 2010, Labour has been criticised for opposing coalition government policy without outlining what they would do in office.

The welfare topic has been yanked onto the political agenda by the quick-fire series of changes to tax and benefits throughout April, including the introduction of the universal credit and the so-called 'bedroom tax'.

And yesterday the personal allowance - the amount under which no one pays any tax - rose to £9,440 while the top rate of tax - over which people pay 45 per cent tax - fell to £41,450.

The case of unemployed Mick Philpott, jailed on Thursday for the manslaughter of six of his children in a fire, fanned the flames. It led some politicians, including the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, to suggest the tragedy strengthened the case for further reforms of the welfare system.

Philpott, who had 17 children, received thousands of pounds a year in child benefit, as well as the income support and wages paid to his wife and mistress.

Osborne told the BBC: "The courts are responsible for sentencing, but I think there is a question for government and for society about the welfare state and the taxpayers who pay for the welfare state, subsidising lifestyles like that."

The Prime Minister David Cameron - who defended Osborne's comments - told the Sun the welfare system had lost its way and benefits had become a "lifestyle choice" for some - causing resentment.

He insisted it was "crazy" that certain claimants could have a bigger income on benefits than if they had a job.

"So this month we are making some big changes," he added.

"They are changes that have a simple principle at their heart: we are restoring the fairness that should lie at the very heart of our tax and welfare systems."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?