Welfare Reform is the Hot Topic
24th February 2012
In February's monthly column for the News Halesowen and Rowley Regis MP James Morris explores the issue of welfare reform.
Judging by my mailbag and email inbox, there is no doubt about what the hot issue of the moment is – welfare reform.
The overwhelming majority of people who contact me either support moves to introduce a £26,000 cap on benefits, or think we should be going much further.
It is important that we make sure – particularly at a time when all budgets are so tight – that what money we do have is focussed on those who most desperately need help.
That means we must help those people who could work, back into the jobs market.
But I also think that it is morally wrong for a small number of families to get much more in benefits than most families in Halesowen and Rowley Regis earn from working full-time.
How can it be right to require families on low wages in Halesowen and Rowley Regis to pay higher taxes to subsidise rents on properties in the Home Counties that they themselves could never hope to afford?
We are protecting the poorest and most vulnerable.
The cap will not apply to people with disabilities, war widows and families on Working Tax Credits. A special fund is also being set up to help other families affected by the cap who would otherwise face particular hardship.
The system must change, and I fully support the reforms going through Parliament.
However, we must also tackle abuses “at the top”.
I have spoken in the House of Commons about the need for greater action to tackle excessive executive pay and, in particular, to bring bankers’ bonuses under control.
This is a basic issue of fairness. At a time when local families are having to make sacrifices to make ends meet, it is wrong that banks that were rescued by taxpayer bail-outs should be offering enormous bonus packages.
We are introducing the toughest bank bonus rules in the world. We have restricted the amount that can be paid out in cash and have banned guaranteed bonuses completely. A permanent bank levy is raising £2.6billion per year - more than the previous one-off tax.
We are also taking action to stop tax avoidance, closing loopholes and taking on more enforcement staff to fight tax evasion.
I want people who do the right thing to be rewarded.
By tackling abuses at the top, whilst also reforming the welfare system, I want to support people who play by the rules.