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Benefit cuts are 'popular', argues Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: April 12, 2013

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps (right) with Peter Heaton-Jones in Barnstaple yesterday

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Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps has made a fierce defence of the Government's controversial welfare reforms, arguing ministers want to ensure work is always more attractive than a life on benefits.

Mr Shapps also suggested polling of voters indicated cuts to benefits were "popular". The Government argues the bill for state hand-outs has spiralled out of control, and has introduced measures including cutting housing benefit and introducing a welfare payments cap.

The senior Tory MP, in Devon and Cornwall to back Conservative candidates for the 2015 general election, told the Western Morning News: "I've seen the figures and welfare reform is popular in Cornwall – everyone agrees that it pays to go out and get a job. We want to support people that want to get on. Do you think it's right that someone should be better off on benefits? The majority work hard. The Government is working very hard to put things right."

The Department for Work and Pensions also defended the crackdown following a report by Sheffield Hallam academics that said £19 billion would be taken from the economy from the measures, including £514 million in Devon and Cornwall.

A Government spokesman said: "Around nine out of ten working households will be better off by on average almost £300 a year as a result of changes to the tax and welfare system this month.

"By raising the personal allowance to £10,000, we will have lifted 2.7 million people out of income tax since 2010. Our welfare reforms, including reassessing people on incapacity benefit, will help people back into work – which will benefit the economy more than simply abandoning them to claim benefits year after year.

"These changes are essential to keep the benefits bill sustainable, so that we can continue to support people when they need it most across the UK."

But Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter and former South West minister, said: "The tragedy is most of the people hit are in work struggling to pay the bills and feed their families. We have a higher proportion of people on low pay in the Westcountry than elsewhere.

"People on low pay are also more likely to spend than the better off, so by clobbering people on modest and low incomes to give a tax cut to millionaires who live mainly in London and the South East, the Government is doing the opposite of what our economy needs."

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  • ArtfulDodger  |  April 15 2013, 10:49AM

    It says alot for the current state of this country when 26 people are rating down my comment to spend within your means....

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  • Tony248  |  April 12 2013, 9:43PM

    So this Government wants to make work more attractive than benefits. Quite right too! That means they should do something about the miserable pay that we get around here, so that Work WOULD be more attractive. And the second thing they need to do is to actually make it POSSIBLE for people to work. At this time there are 2.5 million unemployed which is five unemployed to each job vacancy. So what they actually mean is that they will cut the income of the poorest members of society without giving them any opportunity to get a job. Margaret Thatcher will be grinning in her grave. She may be dead but her dreadful policies live on.

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  • Jungle_Jim  |  April 12 2013, 2:14PM

    Could be something to do with the portrayal (by government and parts of the media) of all benefit recipients as workshy scroungers. But yoou don't fool everyone Never mind, take a few quid of everyone on benefits that makes their lives a misery and then give £100,000 plus to the wealthiest to fritter on expensive 'toys'.

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  • Nickers_99  |  April 12 2013, 12:23PM

    So the government would like to make work more attractive than claiming benefits? Surely the best way of doing this is to make work attractive, as opposed to making benefits unattractive? I am paying more and more tax, only to find that should I need the safety net of the welfare state if I was suddenly unable to work, I wouldn't receive enough to live on. I've said it before and I'll say it again, these rich, priveleged, career politicians in the Conservative party haven't got a clue about the real world. These cuts are not "popular", despite their party attempting to create a divide in society. There is no way I could ever bring myself to vote for Mr Heanton-Jones while he remains associated with such people. Thatcherism is alive and well in Westmister it would seem.

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  • conundrum  |  April 12 2013, 10:40AM

    "Ministers want to ensure work is always more attractive than a life on benefits." This is really about the exploitation of working people and it's rather more complicated; The bulk of benefits go to pensioners and people in work, so what they actually mean, is "Ministers want to slash benefits to ensure that very low wages, long hours, no job security and no employment rights, coupled with soaring food bills, rents, energy and transport costs, will be a very slightly better prospect than the kind of misery experienced by people who need to rely on benefits. Benefits are similar to insurance: we all pay-in via income tax, national insurance, VAT, petrol duty, alcohol duty and many other indirect taxes, then if we become old, sick or lose our jobs the state pays us back. It's not charity or some sort of hand-out. The government's job is to create employment, control prices and balance the books, the coalition is useless at it. So perhaps benefit cuts probably are 'popular' with people who are wealthy enough not to be affected by them, but that group is becoming smaller and smaller. Many people now either are struggling to make ends meet, on a low wage, unemployed, at risk of it or know someone who is......and the only thing they can think of is to make life harder for most of us.

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  • ArtfulDodger  |  April 12 2013, 9:30AM

    People on low pay are more likely to spend than the wealthy? Mr Bradshaw says.... Cut your cloth springs to mind!

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