I oppose the motion, muddled as it is, and support the Government, based on the principle, which underpins their benefits system reforms, that people should always be better off in work than on benefits; on the fact that disability living allowance needs to be reformed and overhauled for the benefit of the people who receive it; and on the fact also that the Government are increasingly committed to putting in place social care reforms and reforms that benefit carers and people who look after those with disabilities.
It is important to pay tribute to the previous Government’s laudable aims on a number of those objectives, and in that respect we are all Blairites. Tony Blair said, as we believe, that people should be better off in work than on benefits, that we have an over-complex benefits system, and that we live in a country where there is generational worklessness on many estates throughout the land. Those problems are all unacceptable, but it has fallen to this Government to tackle them, and it is a great pity that after the pervious Government’s 13 years in power, many still exist and, in fact, became worse rather than better.
The principle that underpins the reforms under discussion is the idea that people should always be better off in work than on benefits. This Government have inherited an over-complex benefits system that is comprehensible only to experts, and the fact that it is so complicated means that the people most in need of benefits find it difficult to access the benefits to which they are genuinely entitled.
The system often lets down the most vulnerable in our society, too, and DLA is in great need of reform. People who have historically been categorised as disabled under the system that we inherited have sometimes been written off by it, even though we know that someone with a mental health problem, or with a physical illness, can greatly benefit from engagement in the workplace. The act of working, and of being part of the workplace, is an important part of the rehabilitation and medical care of somebody who suffers from a mental health condition.