Lord Hutton of Furness, who oversaw the UK’s welfare policy under Tony Blair as the work and pensions secretary, has warned that individuals from across the political landscape had “lost the plot” over the “unstable” benefits system.
He warned that current and proposed measures are defending a work-shy culture in the UK and that politicians need to focus on – and adapt – the mounting benefits bill.
He also warned Labour leader Ed Miliband that voters will not take a political party seriously which ignores the current state of affairs.
The comments in full
He has proposed that those who do not pay into the welfare system should receive less, noting there are no “buy-in is for someone on average wages paying into the welfare state”, and that they are treated equally to those who do not financially prepare for their future.
He also proposed that those who had previously worked should receive more in benefits than others who had never been employed.
“We’ve got to turn this around because I don’t think the system is sustainable in its current form” he stated.
“No-one feels the system is fair, reasonable or supports the work ethic.”
The Institute for Fiscal Studies states that working-age tax credits and benefits in 2013 will cost the UK £91.2 billion.
Yet the Labour party – Lord Hutton’s own – has opposed overhauling housing benefits, branded the launch of universal credit ‘chaotic’, criticised the work capability tests, and supports uncapped benefits for all.
This has led him to warn that reforming welfare is “not on the options list”, but compulsory. He states “if you aspire to govern, you’ve got to look at this issue and you have got to have some credible answers about how to contain spending and improve the fairness and efficiency of the system”.
In what some are viewing as a controversial proposition, he has called for a Royal Commission (an authoritative measure called upon to look into matters of great importance) to examine the welfare state and elevate the issue from UK politics.