Prime Minister faces criticism for saying benefits system encourages young families to breed. Eugenics, anyone?
David Cameron is calling for a welfare shake-up which would discourage poor families from having more than two children.
In a sign the Tories are back to being the nasty party, he will claim in a major speech today that the present system encourages young families to breed.
He will raise the idea of taking child benefit and other state support from jobless families if they have three or more children as part of a drive to slash £10billion from the welfare bill.
“We have been encouraging working-age people to have children and not work,” he will say. “It’s time we asked serious questions about the signals we send out in the benefits system.”
He will claim that a jobless single parent living outside London can claim almost £25,000 a year in benefits – the same as the average joint earnings of a farm worker and a nursery nurse.
“It’s not a marginal point. There are more than 150,000 people claiming income support for over a year who have three or more children and 57,000 who have four or more children.”
Mr Cameron will also suggest scrapping housing benefit worth around £90 a week from 380,000 under 25s, arguing they should be prepared to live longer in their parents’ home.
He is also expected to call for the long-term jobless to do community work such as picking up litter if they are on the dole for over two years.
And many of these changes could be brought in before the next election.
Labour MP Teresa Pearce, a member of the Commons Work and Pensions committee, said:
“This is an attack on the poor and the vulnerable. He might as well tell young women who fail their exams that they should be sterilised.”
Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liam Byrne said:
“This is a half-baked. We need a serious back-to-work programme for young families.”
The Big Society is “waffle” claims outgoing Archbishop
The Archbishop of Canterbury yesterday slammed David Cameron’s ‘Big Society’ as a ploy to mask the Government’s deep cuts.
Dr Rowan Williams dismissed the Prime Minister’s idea as a “threadbare slogan” and “aspirational waffle”.
“Introduced in the run-up to the last election as an idea for the coming generation, it has suffered from a lack of definition about the means by which such ideals can be realised.
“Big Society rhetoric is all too often heard by many, therefore, as aspirational waffle designed to conceal a damaging withdrawal of the state from its responsibilities to the most vulnerable.”
In his book Faith in the Public Square, Dr Williams, who is stepping down later this year, also said the country was suffering under the impact of the Government’s austerity programme.
“If it is anything better than a slogan looking increasingly threadbare as we look at our society reeling under the impact of public spending cuts, then discussion has got to take on board some of those issues about what it is to be a citizen.”
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell defended the Big Society and, when asked if he thought it was a cover for cuts, said: “It is absolutely not that. It is the reverse and we don’t always explain it perhaps as well as we should.”