News story

PM sets out need for welfare reform

This news article was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Prime Minister David Cameron has delivered a speech outlining the need for welfare reform.

In a speech, delivered as the Government’s Welfare Reform Bill was announced, Mr Cameron set out a reform package which he said would deliver “the most ambitious, fundamental and radical changes to the welfare system” since it was created.

The Bill will radically reshape Britain’s welfare system for the next sixty years by sweeping away the patchwork of benefits and credits and replacing them with a Universal Credit to make work pay.

The PM said:

At the heart of this Bill is a simple idea. Never again will work be the wrong financial choice. Never again will we waste opportunity. We’re finally going to make work pay - especially for the poorest people in society. And we’re going to provide much greater support for unemployed people to find work - and stay in work.

When the welfare system was born, there was what we might call a collective culture of responsibility. That collective culture of responsibility - taken for granted sixty years ago - has in many ways been lost.

But I refuse to believe that there are five million people who are inherently lazy and have no interest in bettering themselves and their families.  What I want to argue is that the real fault lies with the system itself.

Alongside the publication of the Bill, the PM and Secretary of State Iain Duncan Smith announced a review into the sickness absence system.

With 300,000 people off work every year claiming sickness-related benefits, the Government has asked David Frost and Dame Carol Black to consider whether with the right help and support more people could stay in work in some form.

Mr Cameron said:

We simply have to get to grips with the sicknote culture that means a short spell of sickness absence can far too easily become a gradual slide to a life of long-term benefit dependency.

The Prime Minister concluded:

We will make the system simple. We’ll make work pay. We’ll help those who want to work, find work. But in return we expect people to take their responsibilities seriously too. To look for work. To take work. To contribute where they can. It is a vision of a stronger society, a bigger society, a more responsible society and today, the building of that society starts in earnest.

Speeches and transcripts: PM’s speech on Welfare Reform Bill

Read more: Welfare Reform Bill

Press Release: Restoring the welfare system to make work pay