Welfare changes are about changing our culture, says Cameron

 

David Cameron today unveiled details of the Government’s long-awaited and controversial plan to reform Britain’s £200 billion benefits system.

At an event in London the Prime Minister and the architect behind the reforms Iain Duncan Smith described how individual benefits will be replaced with a single Universal Credit. The Government claims this will make more than two-and-a-half million of the poorest people in Britain better off and ensure that people are always get more money from work than on benefits.

But at the same time it plans to toughen up the rules on long term sickness and disability benefits payments.

A proposal to cut housing benefit for long-term unemployment benefit claimants has been dropped after complaints from the Liberal Democrats.

Ministers had planned to impose a 10 per cent cut in the housing benefit of those on jobseekers allowance for more than a year. Lib Dem ministers feared the policy would appear callous in a difficult jobs market.

Mr Cameron said the changes would reduce the welfare bill by £5.5 billion in real terms over the next four years by limiting housing benefit, reforming tax credits and taking child benefit away from higher-rate taxpayers.

But he insisted that the Bill was "not an exercise in accounting - it's about changing our culture".

Under the plans a new Personal Independence Payment will replace Disability Living Allowance, supported by a new assessment of individuals that is likely to reduce those eligible to claim the benefit.

There will also be new powers and rules to tackle fraud which costs the taxpayer around £5.2 billion a year.

There will be a new "one-strike, two-strike and three-strike" rule, with a benefit ban of three years for people who offend repeatedly.

Speaking in east London the Prime Minister said: "Never again will work be the wrong financial choice. We're finally going to make work pay - especially for the poorest people in society.

Mr Cameron said the present system needed to be reformed because of a growing benefits culture.

“When the welfare system was born more than today people’s self-image was not just about their personal status or success it was measured out by what sort of citizen they were; whether they did the decent thing.

“That meant that a standardised system of sickness and out-of-work benefits – with limited conditions – was effective. Fiddling the system would have brought not just public outcry but private shame.

“(But) that collective culture of responsibility – taken for granted sixty years ago – has in many ways been lost.

“You see it in the people who go off sick when they could work or the people who refuse job off after job offer.”

Mr Cameron added that the new reforms had been designed to ensure that work always paid and also announced moves to tackle the UK's "sick note culture", pointing out that 300,000 people leave work and claim sickness benefits every year.

The Government's national director for health and work, Dame Carol Black, and David Frost of the British Chambers of Commerce are to lead a review of the problem.

The reforms came under attack from unions, who accused the coalition Government of punishing the unemployed and impoverished for their own misfortunes.

"Long-term unemployment has doubled not because of a sudden increase in work-shy scroungers, but as an inevitable result of economic policies based on cuts that destroy growth," said TUC general secretary Brendan Barber.

"Making low-income working families thousands of pounds worse off through welfare cuts over the next two years to claim that they will be slightly better off in 2013 is an absurd argument that will ring hollow as families suffer the toughest income squeeze for nearly a century."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
The veteran poverty campaigner Sir Bob Geldof issues a stark challenge to emerging economies at the Melbourne HIV/Aids conference
health
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and John Malkovich talk Penguins of Madagascar at Comic-Con
comic-con 2014Cumberbatch fans banned from asking about Sherlock at Comic-Con
Arts and Entertainment
Chris Pratt stars in Guardians of the Galaxy
filmGuardians Of The Galaxy should have taken itself a bit more seriously, writes Geoffrey Macnab
News
Sir Chris Hoy won six Olympic golds - in which four events?
news
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
News
Lars Ulrich of Metallica performs on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people
Arts and Entertainment
film
News
video
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
film
Arts and Entertainment
Up my street: The residents of the elegant Moray Place in Edinburgh's Georgian New Town
tvBBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past
Extras
indybest
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Associate Recruitment Consultant - IT

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £40,000: SThree: Computer Futures has been est...

IT Technician (1st/2nd line support) - Leatherhead, Surrey

£23000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Technician (1st/2nd line support)...

Business Analyst

£300 - £350 per day: Orgtel: Job Title: Business Analyst Rate: £300 - £350 per...

C# .NET Developer

£290 - £291 per day + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Manchester C#.NET ...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform