UK wants to change welfare system

2013-04-07 08:29

London - Prime Minister David Cameron said on Sunday that Britain's welfare system had "lost its way" and become a "lifestyle choice", amid a raging debate on government cutbacks to state handouts.

Cameron's Conservative-Liberal coalition government, trying to rein in the national budget deficit, is bringing in a series of changes to the system this month - in the face of bitter opposition from the Labour Party.

The debate has been fuelled by the case of Mick Philpott, a nationally notorious welfare-dependent father of 18, who was jailed last week for the manslaughter of six children in setting fire to his own house.

Conservative finance minister George Osborne was blasted by Labour in unusually fierce terms when, asked whether Philpott was a product of the welfare system, he suggested there needed to be a debate about whether taxpayers should be subsidising lifestyles like his.

Opposition Labour finance spokesperson Ed Balls said for Osborne "to link this wider debate to this shocking crime is nasty and divisive and demeans his office".

Writing in The Sun newspaper, Cameron launched a staunch defence of the welfare shake-up, which includes capping the amount a household can claim at national average earnings.


He suggested it was "crazy" that welfare claimants could have a bigger income than workers.

The Conservative leader suggested that a system originally designed to protect the frail and be a "stopgap" was now backfiring.

"It was invented to help people escape poverty, but has trapped too many people in it. It was meant to be a stopgap in hard times, but has become a lifestyle choice for some. It was designed to bring us together, but is causing resentment," he said.

"No-one wants to work hard every day and see their hard-earned taxes being used to fund things they themselves cannot afford or keep generations dependent on welfare.

"So this month we are making some big changes. They are changes that have a simple principle at their heart: we are restoring the fairness that should lie at the very heart of our tax and welfare systems.

"We are saying to each and every hard-working person in our country: we are on your side."

The debate has set not only politicians at each other's throats but also newspapers and commentators of opposing political stripes.

Meanwhile a YouGov opinion poll for The Sun found that six out of 10 voters thought welfare handouts were too generous.

About 67% said the system needed an overhaul while 79% back the government's move to limit a family's welfare payments to 26 000 pounds a year - the average working family income.

  • Sue.r.byron-moore - 2013-04-07 08:39

    Well done Mr Cameron and well said indeed - welfare has become a lifestyle choice, and the British taxpayers are funding people who should have no claim to welfare. Money for doing nothing.... gosh, that sounds a little too familiar. I wonder if our great breeder, I'm sorry that should of course be our great leader, was taking lessons here? For himself of course and his closest and dearest friends? Pity about the rest....

      Simon Templer - 2013-04-07 17:36

      Very many of the so-called dependents are in fact not British citizens. Like in SA, immigrants flooded the UK just to qualify for social grants. The Brits are waking up before they go the route of Greece, Spain, Portugal and Cyprus where countless immigrants from Romania, Bulgaria, Albania have caused the collapse of socialistic governments. Socialism does not work. 'He who does not work, must not eat' is the fundamental truth of economics.It is a concrete truth that will never be overturned by any political ideology.

  • Henk Van Biljon - 2013-04-07 08:48

    I was wondering when this would happen, and I'm amazed it took so long. At R13/GBP it still means they can claim up to R325 000,oo per year for getting tattoos, piercings, punk hairstyles and lazing about all day! Pure heaven for the lazy. Next we know, our useless population will demand higher grants because we are still "way under par" with Britain.

      Fidel Chavista - 2013-04-07 12:07

      Why is "our population useless"!

      brucemgiles - 2013-04-07 13:06

      Yes Henk, Im part of the population as are you. if indeed you are right, perhaps short sighted posting such as yours are the reason you term the population useless? Or was it everyone bar you?

      Mandy Casey - 2013-04-07 14:21

      Perhaps Henk was alluding to the fact that despite all the unemployed citizens, foreigners flock across our borders. Many find jobs, some start shops and business which do rather well, which in turn leads to more foreign family members arriving and repeating the success. Others are involved in illicit "trades", but still do well. All the while many SA citizens say they can't find jobs ...

  • Janine Grobler - 2013-04-07 08:49

    'A system originally designed to protect the frail and be a "stopgap" was now backfiring'. Too true, and the same is happening in South Africa. This system is being abused, and in our country with so few 'real' taxpayers, is totally unsustainable.

  • dale.johnson.CFC - 2013-04-07 08:51

    Congrats !!!! SA take note ..... We can't afford the grants forever either .... !

  • Bob Wowzer - 2013-04-07 09:09

    One of the most caused welfare systems in the world. It's about time they fixed the mess. It reminds me of a family of morbidly obese degenerates who live on welfare and some time ago publicly demanded a bigger payout so they could afford to stuff their faces even more. These kinds of parasites should be hanged...

  • Bongeka - 2013-04-07 09:20

    Do we have that in South Africa? If yes, is it working? Or should I say, is it serving the purpose?

      Fidel Chavista - 2013-04-07 12:11

      Yes it is working in SA, millions of Africans who worked hard for many years and yet have nothing to show for it, because their labour was stolen by their overlords deserve some consideration from their government. There should have been a severe apartheid tax in this country to fund this!

      Braam du Plooy - 2013-04-08 11:38

      There are already more people in SA getting social grants (Bought ANC votes) than people paying taxes.

  • Tim Rolston - 2013-04-07 09:56

    The only surprising thing about this is that it took so long to recognise the problem. When people decide that pregnancy and unemployment is a valid and frequently profitable career choice you are in serious trouble. Over thirty years ago a friend of mine gave up her job in an unemployment office because she spent all day handing over more money to people who had no intention of working than she earned for being there. That was wrong then and it is wrong now. Covering an unfortunate person's expenses in the short term because of unemployment or retrenchment is fine, it could happen to any of us. But when you have entire households of several generations who have NEVER worked, well that is just taking the P1$$.

  • Rikky_Sellis - 2013-04-07 10:15

    I think welfare should only be implemented as a system with a subsidy and time limit for a citizen, only to help those in abject poverty - those who do not have any other activity but survival - to get back on their feet. Anything more than that can be taken advantage of. Unfortunately this still doesn't ensure that the budget actually crosses over to those in abject poverty.

  • Sittingbourne - 2013-04-07 10:17

    I'm glad all you saffas feel the same way that I do. I'm a UK citizen and way too many people are living off the fat of the land. I'm disappointed that I daren't post comments on Facebook as so many here that know me would lamblast me for supporting the changes (I wonder why). Thank you, the good people of South Africa, I'm glad to know ya.

      Terry Hedley - 2013-04-07 11:40

      I'm a Brit living back here after having spent 30 years in sa I cannot believe how the government past and present has allowed a large section of society sponge as much as they do. What's worse is how many handouts the government give to non UK residents when they co e over here seeking asylum. The UK government needs to start looking after their own citizens first. Stop sending all the money out to India Pakistan and far flung countries and start rebuilding society for. The roots up

  • NickvanGraan - 2013-04-07 10:17

    Its about time the British government started getting a bit more backbone.

  • Donovan Van Senus - 2013-04-07 10:39

    Brilliant news. Loafers and Couch potatoes need to take note. Nothing in life is for free. Time to start working!

  • Mark Booysen - 2013-04-07 10:56

    No more Rock & Rolin on the Dole!

  • Bongani Malcolm Mpostile - 2013-04-07 11:05

    At the moment in RSA we are no way not near any way to pull the plug off... We can consider that after 2040.

  • Stanley Mabunda - 2013-04-07 11:45

    same thing happening in south africa

      Fidel Chavista - 2013-04-07 12:14

      Deservedly in this country. Those Brits on the other hand have no excuse!

      Sanet Oelofse - 2013-04-07 12:36

      Fidel, I think the main reason for revision is due to the fact that people living on benefits, are breeding like rabbits, I don't see the difference here. It is an incentive to have more kids, more kids equals more money, and not a day spent to earn it, sex doesn't count.

      Fidel Chavista - 2013-04-07 13:10

      We are talking about two separate things here, the social grant and the child grant. I am totally against the child grant of any kind, especially to teenagers who have no business falling pregnant, even though I have accepted its reality and wish for it to be revised to only qualify the first borns. The social grant on the other hand is a totally different thing that tries to lessen the burden on citizens who were denied opportunities in the past and can't just be ignored. Some of these citizens would have worked very very hard in contributing to the building of their country and people's homes, but were never given their true worth because of exploitation. Ensuring social justice (which is not the same thing as equal shares for all) is the job of Governments

      criticallyhonest - 2013-04-07 16:54

      Redressing is a valid point, but unless a time limit is applied to such measures they will become entrenched entitlements....and then they will inhibit fundamental change in attitudinal change to the need to work for a living.

  • Zolisa Dlokovu - 2013-04-07 11:58

    hey.Its nice to be a poor person in Britain.You are living a lifestyle that is better than a middle class person.I didnt know that they also have 'handouts'

  • Kheta Johnson - 2013-04-07 12:57

    I hope SA also learns something from this, although our system is different. It won't be easy for any ruling party to change anything about it in future, because the majority of the electorate in SA, depend on it.

  • Sipho Simon Mogale - 2013-04-07 16:01

    People lets have mercy on ophans and widows, u people sound greedy

      Evaline Meyer - 2013-04-07 18:54

      The article, as well as the majority of the posters here, are not saying that they are against helping those that are genuinely in need. They are against those that are not in genuine need, yet still claim benefits. Many of the people receiving benefits/grants are NOT orphans, widows, disabled or disadvantaged in any way - they simply choose not to work. That is what the many object to.

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