Whoever forms the next Government must acknowledge and tackle the many barriers people with mental health problems face in finding and retaining a job. The benefits system is very complex and we often hear how people struggle to navigate it, so we also need to ensure such individuals can access advice and support to help them.
PIP has been available to new claimants since June 2013. Most of those who are currently on DLA will not go through the reassessment process until October 2015. However those whose award runs out before that date or whose circumstances change will still be called in, potentially piling delay upon delay.
Iain Duncan Smith appeared in front of the work and pensions committee of MPs yesterday, but decided against illuminating them - and us - about his work. His Universal Credit scheme, widely recognised to be failing due in great part to his poor management and lack of financial acumen, was the main item on the agenda.
Universal Credit is the government's flagship welfare reform. It has become a fiasco. Ministers failed at the outset to grasp the scale of it. Now the prime minister has failed to get a grip, or even to resolve the dispute between his Ministers. Rescuing the project is going to be tough. Thursday's development gives no hint that the current administration is up to the task.
Delivering his autumn statement, George Osborne declared he was "proud" of the changes his government is making to the state pension. Really? As a thank you for a lifetime's contribution to our society, those pensioners with no independent wealth to fall back on, are facing their retirement living in poverty.
The failures around the Universal Credit project, exposed by the Public Accounts Committee on Thursday, are the responsibility of David Cameron and Iain Duncan Smith, not civil servants... This failure was Iain Duncan Smith's. It goes right back to the start of the project. The idea for Universal Credit was developed in the Centre for Social Justice which Iain Duncan Smith set up. It is a good idea. It has the potential to simplify the system, and make it clearer to people how their circumstances will change if they get a job. But ministers have never got to grips with what was going to be involved.
The benefit cap is now in place across the country. This means that benefit claims are limited to a fair level, a maximum of the average working household income of £500 a week. The taxpayer who funds the welfare state has the assurance that someone in receipt of benefits no longer has an income that's beyond the reach of the average working family.
On welfare the Tories are starting to develop something of a swagger. Their tails are up. Their benefits cap policy, they believe, is the answer to all problems. A wild-eyed election mode fever has taken hold of the frontbench. But that is the problem with this Government. They're less concerned with the size of the problems than the size of the headlines.
Benefits and their cost have been the catch-cry of the political twitterati recently, as the Government and opposition took to the podium to speak of child benefit, a cap and winter fuel payments. Apparently, they are an expense that cannot be sustained by the UK economy regardless of our ruling party.
The current welfare system holds people back from getting into work and too often traps them on benefits. That has to change. That's why we are bringing in this fundamental reform. It's not just the maddening complexity of the current system - the uncertainties around whether it pays to work under the current rules have made stepping off benefits and into employment all too hard for many people.