As people's wages fall further below benefit levels, so the bill for family credit and housing benefit will rise. It is foolish to allow benefits to those in work without having some check on low wages. Otherwise, bad employers, and, if they are to compete, good ones, too, are under too much temptation to pass on an increasing proportion of their wages bill to the state. This conclusion is based on experience, for the system has been tried before, and is known to history as the Speenhamland system. As a result:
The little inn at Speenhamland, that lies beneath the hill
Is rightly called the Pelican - from its enormous bill.
Until I watched this government in action, I had not realised how true it is that those who do not know history are condemned to repeat it.
House of Lords
The writer is Liberal Democrat spokesman in the House of Lords on social security.Reuse content