Revitalising the welfare state

I was really pleased to see the West Briton dedicate a recent editorial to the subject of food banks. It is great to see a local newspaper, a historic champion for the vulnerable in our society, participating in this debate over a topic that is rightly of real concern to many.

As this debate continues I thought it might be helpful to provide some more information concerning this Government’s actions towards the poorest in society.

The Coalition has set about revitalising our system of welfare support, restoring to it its central purpose of helping people from all backgrounds to get on in life. Those who can work are being supported to access the life-changing advantages that employment can offer, and those who can’t work are being supported.

The hard working staff at our jobcentres are now offering clients more targeted support to enable them into employment, including dedicated training and support opportunities for people with disabilities and for older workers. These efforts, supported by the Government’s long term economic plan, are paying off. Unemployment across all age groups in Truro and Falmouth has fallen by more than 25% over the past year.

Local people have been further helped by an above inflation rise in the minimum wage this year. Tax changes have lifted 5000 of the lowest paid people in Truro and Falmouth out of Income Tax altogether.

Financial support for people looking for work has been boosted, with the weekly JSA payment having increased by £6.25 since 2010. Meanwhile Child tax credit for the poorest families has increased by £420 since 2010.

Support for people who can’t work has rightly been boosted further, with the Government having put an extra £1 billion into the budget that supports disability benefits since 2010.

This revitalizion of welfare support is having an impact- the latest figures from the ONS show the income gap between rich and poor is at its narrowest since 1986. Much more work needs to be done as we move out of the great recession and I am determined that no one is left behind as the economy grows.

Another story that I know will be of concern to readers regards changes to Devon and Cornwall Police funding. This is part of the effort to reduce our national debt and annual budget deficit and work to reform policing, to ensure that it makes more efficient use of taxpayer money and is focused on visibly protecting communities. Thanks in no small part to the dedication and skill of our hard working police officers this approach is working – as police efficiencies continue to save money for the taxpayer last month the crime rate fell by 15%, the lowest level since the official crime survey began. By doing things differently it is possible to deliver better public services whilst also providing better value for money for taxpayers.

As our local Police continue to face particular challenges I will continue to support them – Cornwall remains an area of low crime, long may this remain so.