UK

Derby House Fire: Does Mick Philpott Tell Us Anything About Welfare Reform?

03/04/2013 09:48 BST

The guilty verdict in the Derby house fire comes as debate rages over the government's welfare reforms.

Many of the most controversial measures came into force this week, while a £26,000 benefit cap is being phased in across the country.

During the trial, the court heard how Philpott lived his entire life on benefits, with his 17 children adding to the welfare income.

mick and mairead philpott

Mick and Mairead Philpott at a press conference after the fire

Many commentators have linked the two, with the Daily Mail's front page provoking a furious reaction on twitter.

Inside the paper, A N Wilson said Philpott was "the perfect parable for our age".

"His story throws into surreal relief the row between the Tories and Labour this week about Iain Duncan Smith’s much-needed benefit reforms", he wrote.

According to The Sun, there are key lessons for anyone against the government's benefit reforms.

It said: "When benefits are so generous, easily obtainable and dished out indiscriminately, they can debase humanity — a point Labour and the churches refuse to grasp."

But in The Independent, author Owen Jones said the case of the Philpotts contained no more lessons about welfare than murderous GP Harold Shipman did about middle class professionals.

"There are, and have always been, a small minority of individuals capable of breathtaking cruelty. The Philpott case relates in no way to people on benefits in this country," he wrote.