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Response to welfare reform announcements

Dr Eamonn Butler, Director of the Adam Smith Institute broadly welcomes Iain Duncan Smith's welfare reforms and adds:

"The government's simplification of the welfare rag-bag is long overdue. Boiling 51 different benefits down to one universal credit will eliminate many of the perverse incentives that make it daft for people to seek work.

If millions of East Europeans can find work in Britain, so can people who live here. It is just a case of having the incentive. Some of the poorest people face an effective tax rate of 90% when they take work and lose their benefits. This reform should have happened years ago.

Most people will be staggered that it has taken politicians so long to insist that people taking state benefits should be actively seeking work. Mrs Thatcher was saying this back in 1983. Gordon Brown in 1998 told us that his New Deal meant there was 'no option' for people to stay at home on benefits. And he told us the same again when the plan was reinvented a decade later. In these straitened times, people in work are simply refusing to carry the burden of those who could work, but won't.”

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