James Forsyth

The statistics which bring home the need for welfare reform

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This week’s shadow Cabinet reshuffle was designed to make it campaign not government-ready. But the Tories do need to prepare for government as they are going to confront a huge set of problems. Policy Exchange have produced a pamphlet with ‘100 Reasons why Britain needs to change’ and, even leaving aside the country’s ever worsening position, it makes for depressing reading.

The desperate need for welfare reform is brought home by these statistics:

“In 1997 Tony Blair said that ‘By the end of a 5-year term of a Labour Government, I vow that we will have reduced the proportion we spend on the welfare bills of social failure…This is my covenant with the British people. Judge me upon it. The buck stops with me.’ Since 1997/1998, the Government spent £1.23 trillion on social security benefits. In 1997/8, the Government spent £93.5bn on these, compared to £138.5bn in 2007/8 (Treasury estimate). In 2007/8, that’s £13,600 per individual under the poverty line.

60% of all worklessness is in 10% of all wards.

The UK has a higher proportion of its children living in workless households than any other EU country.

A claimant of incapacity Benefit is three times more likely to consider herself as permanently unable to work six months after her first claim than when she first started it.”

One other statistic from the report particularly stood out to me:

“In 2007-8 there were only two convictions for every 100 crimes estimated by the British Crime Survey.”

Making the police more accountable to the populations they serve strikes me as the best way to improve this number. Let us hope that the rumours of Tory backsliding on locally elected police chiefs are unfounded.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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