THE BLOG

Ministers - Shun the Poverty Industry and the Lobbying Unions and Plough on With Reforming Welfare and Education

03/04/2013 12:57 BST | Updated 03/06/2013 10:12 BST

'Beveridge tells how to banish want. Cradle to grave plan. All pay - all benefit', read the front page of the Daily Mirror in 1942.

Fast forward to today and he would turn in his grave. That headline is a reminder to the poverty industry, who attack the government's reforms, of how far removed their thinking is from the original ideals of welfare.

As the government's welfare reforms kick in and George Osborne delivers his glottal stops down in Sittingbourne, the left attack the reforms, yet Labour doesn't have the answers, it doesn't even say it will repeal the so-called 'bedroom tax'.

As George adopted an estuary accent in my friend Gordon Henderson's constituency of Sittingbourne and Sheppey, the audience nodded in agreement at his speech. They don't believe that a cap on benefits should be around the level of the average wage of £26,000, as most of them are probably on that and have little chance of getting a pay rise this year. Take heed, Chancellor, this is working class country and the people you need to vote for you at the next General Election, as they did in their hordes for Margaret Thatcher. They instinctively understood her belief of living within your means.

For decades, the highly political anti-poverty industry has led the debate on the definition of poverty.

They narrowly focus on eradicating poverty by increased benefits and expanding social services, where protection of benefits and the recipients' right not to work overshadows the argument that work equals empowerment and they promote the 'victimisation' of those they claim to represent. They think that something needs to be done for the poor, not with the poor. That's the old argument, it doesn't work and is no longer sustainable.

In a free market economy we cannot sustain the system as it is without reform, we cannot continue to print money. The poverty industry way out is a system that is bust.

As John Bird, founder of The Big Issue comments in today's Times about the poverty industry who have challenged Iain Duncan Smith to live on £53 a week: "Why don't we get the self-declared defenders of the poor -- the bosses of the poverty industry, that whole web of charities and campaigning groups who depend upon the welfare state for their existence -- to live on that pitiful sum. They would then enjoy first hand the welfare state that has done such an effective job in keeping the poor poor, and the jobless jobless." Quite right John, and he should know.

The left's way is bust. Take that doyenne of the Left, Polly Toynbee, also a supporter of the poverty industry, who says:

"I want Britain to aim for the social and economic balance that thrives in Nordic nations".

Yet, we are already there Polly. Britain spends more on family benefits than virtually any other country in Europe. Some thirty million people - almost half the total population - now receive income from at least one social security benefit. Expenditure on social protection represents by far the largest single area of government spending. In 2012/13, at £200 billion or almost 30 per cent of government spending, it is one of the highest levels in the world.

The LibLabCon parties have made us into Nordic social democrats. Labour entrenched us and the Tories are trying to deliver the welfare reform we need whilst battling against the poverty industry who shape the debate, loudly across our state controlled media.

Labour lavished benefits and created a 'something for nothing' culture that penalised people who wanted to work but it made no economic sense for them to do so. A whole generation has grown up believing that to claim from the welfare state is their right, not a safety harness for those who fall on hard times.

Iain Duncan Smith's extensive research into social justice via his think tank, Centre for Social Justice, where they identified the five pathways to poverty: family breakdown, education failure, worklessness and dependency, addiction and serious personal debt hits the nail on the head. He has a record to be proud of, one of the few ministers who really understansd their brief.

But his universal credit will fail unless we also tackle the other causes of UK poverty and the vested interests that keep families there, the rising cost of living.

The Institute of Economic Affairs produced a report that by addressing the high cost of UK living each family would be £750 per annum better off.

There are 8 areas which can be reformed to bring about this change:

• High housing costs. The poverty industry will argue for increasing housing benefits. Liberalisation of planning would go some way to ameliorate this yet the poverty industry's voices are silent

• Our food prices are 30% higher, the most expensive in Europe. Reform of CAP could bring about a 25% saving

• Fuel prices have risen by 159% in 10 years. Dump green taxes and stop funding the climate change wheeze which cost every family an extra £120 per year on heating their homes.

• The proposed fat tax, minimum alcohol pricing and duty on cigarettes all have the most impact on the poor - and there are others such as:

• Childcare costs are the highest in the OECD

• Employment protection legislation

• And policies that discourage family formation

• And lower marginal tax rates

I am no apologist for Cameron's government but I applaud two ministers - Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Gove - who are doing more to eradicate poverty through fundamental reforms than any other minister. They have taken on the poverty industry and the unions that entrench people into system of welfare dependency and low educational achievement.

So ministers, the next time the lobbying teaching unions and the poverty industry come knocking on your door, don't let them in, don't open their emails, throw their letters in the bin and plough on with your reforms.