But it’s only half of the story. As I recently blogged – and as Fraser wrote in the magazine – the existing benefits system is itself a major disincentive for people getting back into work. You can have a private sector welfare provider on every street corner, but they’re limited in what they can do when claimants feel – sometimes wrongly, sometimes rightly – that they’d earn more on benefits than in work. Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice recently released an important report which offered a solution to this problem, but it’s one which the Tory leadership don’t seem to be thinking about too much. When I spoke to a senior Tory source about it, they said that proposing a simplified benefits system, which removes disincentives to work, is a “post-election aim”. When I asked why, they responded “it’s a matter of putting in the work”.
Hm. You can only hope that recent rumours that IDS is in line for a role in a Cameron government mean that this important policy issue is going to get fast-tracked. Watch this space.