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Cameron unveils radical get back to work package

BRITISH Prime Minister David Cameron pledged yesterday to radically overhaul Britain's welfare system to give people incentives to get a job

He is promising to "make work pay" as in plans to ensure people in work are better off than the unemployed.

A "universal credit", will sanction those turning down jobs and a cap on benefits paid to a single family are among the controversial changes outlined.

The Welfare Bill, published today, set out to simplify the system of state benefits that cover everything from child care to sickness payments. The goal is to remove traps that see some people lose more than 90pc of every extra pound they earn as means-tested benefits are withdrawn.

"The benefit system has created a benefit culture," Cameron said in London. "It doesn't just allow people to act irresponsibly but often actively encourages them to do so. Sometimes they deliberately follow the signals that are sent out. Other times, they hazily follow them, trapped in a fog of dependency." The changes, outlined in the Welfare Reform Bill, include:

  • A single universal credit to come into force in 2013.
  • Tax changes to enable people to keep more income.
  • Changes to the disability living allowance.
  • More details of the back-to-work programme.
  • Those refusing to work facing a maximum three-year loss of benefits.
  • Annual benefit cap of about £26,000 per family.
  • Review of sickness absence levels.

Central to the plan is the creation of a universal credit, a process which will begin in 2013 and continue into the next parliament.

The British government says, with five million people of working age on out-of-work benefits and 1.4 million of those for nearly a decade, that unemployment has become entrenched.

Mr Cameron said the bill would "bring about the most fundamental and radical changes to the welfare system since it began".

He added: "Never again will work be the wrong financial choice... We are finally going to make work pay for some of the poorest people in our society."

Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has become something of an evangelist for welfare reform.

But the task he faces is probably even more daunting than that faced by any recent government.

Mr Duncan Smith said: "Our reforms will end the absurdity of a system where people too often get rewarded for doing the wrong thing, and those who strive to do the best by their families get penalised.

Irish Independent