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I understand what the hon. Gentleman is saying, but I have been in business for 20 years, and I could cite plenty of others, including Richard Lambert, director general of the CBI, and the OECD, which says the Budget is far-reaching and courageous, so we need to have a balanced view.
I believe very strongly in the enterprise-led economy that we have put in place, and we have the building blocks in place to support future industry. That is why I was pleased to hear that spending on many capital investment projects will go ahead. Naturally, I will put in a request for Crossrail, a much needed capital investment for London.
Secondly, we also have to tackle the excess costs. This Budget has tried to create the right infrastructure for the future, but it is vital that we tackle the excess costs within our economy and get control of the welfare state. I have received letters from, and spoken to, constituents who feel it is unfair that they have worked hard all their lives and have paid taxes and are living in modest circumstances, whereas others are not working and are being supported by the state in accommodation way beyond anything they could envisage for themselves. As the Chancellor said, some of these benefits have got completely out of control, and we must review these costs.
The Chancellor was also right to point out the waste that the benefits culture engenders, not only in a financial sense to the state, but in terms of the loss of talent from individuals themselves and the ongoing impact on self-esteem and stress on family life to which living in workless households can lead. I therefore welcome the proposals that the various welfare to work schemes will be combined and simplified to support people back into jobs. It is vital for the revised scheme to be as flexible and creative as possible, particularly when looking at ways to bring groups such as lone parents whose children are at school back into the work force.
Thirdly, I want to comment on departmental budgets, which will focus the minds of many of us here in the next few months. I certainly support the target of making savings of 25% in those budgets over the next four years. I have spent many years in business cutting costs in operations around the world and I feel that the 25% figure is challenging and tough, but definitely achievable and necessary.
Fourthly, I want to mention a group in our society who are often overlooked and about whom I am often reminded by my constituents-pensioners. We all know the facts about how many of us are living and thriving into old age these days, but after 13 years under Labour there are still 1.8 million pensioners living in poverty. Many of my retired constituents feel that the contribution that they have made throughout their lives to our economy and society as a whole is not recognised as they struggle to live on their pensions or, if they save money, as they are penalised by taxation policies that seem unfair. I am delighted that we will now be able to restore some of that respect for our older citizens by putting in place the link between pensions and earnings from next April, and through the triple-lock guarantee.
I met one of my spritely 70-year-olds the other day at a surgery. He asked for the Government's support in helping him to go on working. He said, "I'm fit and well, I love my job, I'm perfectly able to carry on working and I want to be able to continue to do so." I hope that I will be as energetic as him at his age, and I should like us to take people like him into account when we consider the future of the retirement age.
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