Letter: Attack on disabled

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The Independent Online
Sir: If "Blair is on a mission" (report, 15 December), he must make some theological distinctions.

He is quite right to want to reduce the social security bill, but the social security bill is not the fault of the welfare state. Social security is a demand-led budget and measures failures in the real economy. He would do more to lower the benefit bill by repairing the London Tube and by bringing down the level of the pound than by any changes in welfare he can imagine.

There are measures which social security can contribute to reducing the welfare bill and most of these the Taylor review of the poverty trap has in hand. Mr Blair must take care that in encouraging people into work he does not destroy the essential safeguard of a free market, that jobs must be made sufficiently attractive for people to want to take them. If he destroys this, he sets up a system of conscription, which in peacetime is unacceptable and unenforceable.

The one measure he has so far introduced which is likely to produce a significant reduction of the welfare bill is the national minimum wage, and on that I congratulate him.

Earl RUSSELL

Liberal Democrat Social Security Spokesman

House of Lords

London SW1

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