Tonight we vote on whether to cap welfare benefits to 1%. Labour are opposed to the cap, I support it and will be voting with the Government.
Let me firstly say that I do not believe most people on benefits in the North East, or anywhere else, are "scroungers", or any of the other horrible language that has been thrown around in this debate. This debate for me is purely about fairness.
Because of the dreadful economic mess we are having to clear up lots of people are facing a tough time. Higher earns are losing their child benefit payments all together. Those in the public sector have had their pay rises capped at 1%. Quite rightly pensions and disability benefits are not included in the 1% cap. All the Government is proposing is that benefits (which have rose than faster than earnings in the past) are limited to the same rise as that being given to nurses, teachers and policemen. Is that really so outrageous?
The most shocking thing is that Labour support the 1% cap on public sector wages but oppose it benefits. How can that be logical, let alone fair? Balls and Milliband are totally out of touch.
The truth is that Labour are not serious about welfare reform. They pay lip service to it to try and please the pollsters but oppose every single measure we have made to make the system fair. Most importantly they oppose our overall cap on benefits of £26,000 per household.
They believe it is right and fair that a family on benefits can get more in welfare payments than the same family next door does my working. I don't. It's not about putting those on benefits against those who work - it is about designing a system which mean work always pays, which means it is always better to be working than on benefits. Labour, as it was when they where in power, don't think that matters. Well I do.
The 1% cap will also save vital tax payers money as we try to bring down the defiect, around £5billion. Where would Labour find that extra £5billion? Closing hospitals? Slashing pensions? Labour need to fire 140,000 teachers to make up the short fall.
Last month, reports emerged that a "caucus" of some Labour figures
believed that the Labour leader’s stance was politically suicidal. Jacqui Smith, a former Labour
Home Secretary said: ”Frankly you can count me into this
'caucus'. It would include a large number of people [Labour canvassers] who’ve knocked
on doors recently and been told the problem for Labour is that they think we
caused the deficit and they’re not yet convinced we know how we’ll solve it. They want to paint us as a party which cares more about those
unwilling to work than those struggling in work.”
Ed Milliband would do well to listen to Jacqui.