This week, the Prime Minister called for a wide ranging public debate on the culture of entitlement in this country.
The gap between some of those who are completely dependent on the welfare system and those who work hard on low incomes has led to huge resentment among net contributors who feel that what they are working hard for, others are getting for free.
The government is right to encourage an open discussion of the scope and responsibilities of living in a fair society with an effective welfare state.
I am proud to live in a country that has enshrined the principle of caring for the needy into law, but I believe that for the able-bodied in the end, the only thing that really beats poverty, long-term, is work. It would be naive in the extreme to think that there are no people on benefits who could be doing more to help themselves.
I know from my surgeries that the transition next year from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is generating some concerns.
The government’s aim with this change is to introduce exactly what constituents keep asking for – the removal of the impersonal box-ticking by which people used to be categorised and the establishment of a fair assessment of what an individual needs to complete everyday tasks.
right they are targeted towards those in most need – these changes are all about finding a fairer and more consistent way to identify them.
As a result, the proportion of people receiving benefits at the highest rate will actually go up in PIP compared to DLA.
Nevertheless, when you hear that, since its introduction in 1992, the numbers of people receiving DLA have increased from 1.1 million to 3.1 million, it does give pause for thought.
Navigating fundamental reform in such a huge system is never without its frustrations. I do not delude myself that I can decide who gets what or why but, when a mistake has been made, it is often possible to correct it very quickly – a task in which my staff and I willingly invest a great deal of time and energy.