The UK Government’s welfare reforms are “a once in a generation opportunity to break the cycle of dependency and return the welfare system to its true value and purpose”, Wales Office Minister, Stephen Crabb MP will say as he delivers a speech at today’s Policy Forum for Wales seminar (13 Feb 2014).
Addressing delegates in Cardiff, the Minister will outline the leading principles which are guiding welfare reform in Wales. He will also call on every level of Government to work together with a “shared interest in seeing the economic health of our nation improve,” stating that welfare reform “must not be a blind spot for the Welsh Government.”
Speaking ahead of the seminar, Wales Office Minister, Stephen Crabb said:
At the same time as a record number of people are out working today, there remain around 200,000 people here in Wales who have never worked a day in their lives. That’s a tragedy for each one of those individuals and it’s a tragedy for our nation. A small country like Wales needs to maximise every bit of skill, talent and potential that we have.
Mr Crabb is expected to say that “the responsible position is not to urge less welfare reform in Wales” and that “Wales needs welfare reform as much as anywhere else in the UK.
During his address, the Minister will say that the guiding principles for successful reform should be founded on:
A moral duty to provide both a safety net and pathway out of poverty
Providing a full range of support, guidance and incentives that give people the opportunity to improve their circumstances and return to the freedom of an independent life.
Restoring the value of work, and increasing the incentive to work
Changing the equation so that there is always a financial incentive to work compared to the alternative of benefits.
A benefits system which reflects the realities of the modern labour market
Universal Credit encourages and supports people into taking their first steps back into work, building up their hours as they acquire confidence and skills.
Bridging the gulf between those dependent on benefits and those in work
Closing the gap between the choices that those in work have to make and those that are made by people receiving benefits. e.g.type and size of property, managing money.
The Minister will emphasise the important role that Westminster, Welsh and Local Governments all have to play in supporting welfare reform, adding that welfare reform is here to stay: “there will be no turning back the clock or any return to the kind of welfare system which does not encourage hard work and which does not foster social mobility”.
He will say that “with a shared ambition for welfare reform, the impacts it can have on the economic and social landscapes of the nation will be transformational.”
Following the seminar, the Minister will visit Caerphilly Borough Council, where the Universal Credit pilot is providing important lessons for successfully implementing welfare reform in Wales. Through debt advice and guidance to better manage tenants’ own finances, the Minister will hear from the local authority directly about their crucial role in implementing welfare reform.
Notes to Editors
Mr Crabb will deliver his speech at 09:05hrs on 13 Feb 2014 at the Policy Forum for Wales “Conference on Poverty and Welfare Reform in Wales”