Northern IrelandTheresa Villiers is Secretary of State for Northern Ireland.
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Writing in the Barnet Press this week, Theresa Villiers, explains why the changes to the benefits system will ensure fairness for both those in need of help and the taxpayer...
Last week, MPs voted to cap benefits at £26,000 a year for working-age households. The cap has caused much debate about fairness; but I believe the Government’s welfare reforms strike the right balance between fairness to those in need of help and fairness to the taxpayer.
I know from letters from constituents, that it infuriates them when they read stories about families living on benefits that enjoy a lifestyle they cannot hope to afford on the wages they go out to earn. It sends out entirely the wrong message when households can receive a greater income from claiming benefits than the average weekly wage for hard-working families. Remember that a £26,000 cap is the equivalent of a household income of £35,000 before tax is deducted.
The reforms now going through Parliament will help tackle Britain’s culture of welfare dependency by ensuring that it is more worthwhile to be in work than to live on benefits. They will also mean money is targeted where it is needed and that those who use the system as an excuse not to work are found out.
Reforming the benefits system is also an important step on the road to social reform. The changes underway will give people a stronger incentive to take responsibility for themselves and their families. This will help tackle the problems caused when successive generations in a family may have no experience of work at all. Our aim is to help people build a better life for themselves and their families through going out to work.
Lastly, I support the welfare reforms because they ensure the proper protection for the poor and vulnerable. A special fund will help those affected by the changes to make the transition. Those with disabilities, war widows and in receipt or Working Tax Credits are already exempt from the cap.