Today the government invites MPs to vote to peg increases in benefits to just 1% a year for the rest of this Parliament.
The government does not propose to limit increases to pensions, nor to disability benefits this way. They will continue with the triple lock on pensions to ensure a better uprating each year.
The idea is to limit the rise in benefits to make it more worthwhile to work, at a time when pay rises are low or non existent. In recent years out of work benefits have gone up by more than average wages, making it less worthwhile to work.
Labour’s criticism of the proposal points out that the 1% will also apply to in work benefits going to people on low pay, as well as limiting increases in out of work benefits. The Coalition government counters by saying that the lower paid will benefit from the more substantial increases in tax thresholds, reducing or removing their income tax liability.
I will vote with the government. However, I think the best way of cutting benefit bills is to remove eligibility from recent arrivals in the UK, and to be clear that someone out of work who can get a job should do so. The biggest problem with the benefit bill is that there are too many people on benefits. We need positive ways out of no pay and low pay, and better controls on who has access to our benefit system. UK citizens suffering disability or now retired deserve to be treated decently.