Secretary of State for Wales Cheryl Gillan has welcomed the Welfare Reform Bill as the biggest shake up of the welfare system for 60 years and said the overhaul would help make thousands of Welsh households better off and lift many of Wales’ poorest families out of poverty.
Central to the Bill, launched by the Prime Minister with Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith today, will be the introduction of Universal Credit, which will simplify a benefits system that has become unmanageable, make work pay and help release millions of people from the misery of welfare dependency and break generational cycles of worklessness.
Mrs Gillan said: “Too many families in Wales are caught in the trap of benefit dependency. This is bad for the benefit recipients, bad for Welsh communities and bad for Wales. In some areas fourth generations of families are now trapped in a culture of worklessness and despair. This leads to higher levels of debt, family breakdown, alcohol and drug addiction and crime.
“Although I was encouraged by the Labour Market Statistics published this week showing a continued fall of 13,000 in the Economic Inactivity in Wales, there are still 492,000 people in Wales considered Economically Inactive and many dependent on benefits.
“It is a tragedy that as many as one in five children in Wales are growing up in families where neither parent works. Without skills, confidence and positive role models, these young people could remain trapped in a downward cycle of benefits culture that will blight Wales for generations to come.”
Mrs Gillan added: “Successive Governments have wrestled with how to reform the welfare state, but have only added to its complexity and cost. This Bill will see it restored to its original purpose of providing unconditional support for those who need it, whilst helping people back into work and making it pay for them to stay there.
“The measures in the Bill will restore fairness for the taxpayer and fairness for those who claim benefits by making sure work always pays. Universal Credit will restore fairness and simplicity to an overly complex, outdated and expensive benefits system that often acts as a barrier to getting into the workplace.”
The Bill will radically reshape Britain’s welfare system by:
- sweeping away the patchwork of benefits and credits and replacing them with the Universal Credit to make work pay;
- introducing a proper system of conditionality and make sure that unscrupulous individuals are not able to abuse or defraud the system;
- a Personal Independence Payment for disabled people targeting support at those who really need it;
- a new system of child support which puts the interest of the child first;
- introducing new powers to tackle the problem of fraud and error.
More details on the Welfare Reform Bill at www.dwp.gov.uk/policy/welfare-reform/legislation-and-key-documents/welfare-reform-bill-2011/