Tuesday, 5 October 2010

IDS at #cpc10

Iain Duncan Smith addressed the Conservative conference this afternoon on welfare reform. The Comprehensive Spending Review is still some weeks away, so this was a largely perfunctory speech without much detail. Personally I'm rather glad since in previous years the nature of his work with the Centre for Social Justice has regularly reduced me to tears.

His work though, is just one of the pillars of major reform being undertaken by this extraordinarily radical government - free schools, GP commissioning, AV, fully elected house of lords, police commissioners - the list goes on. But IDS's reforms of the welfare system are at the centre of what Conservatives understand as addressing the
causes of poverty - welfare dependency, educational failure, indebtedness, addiction and family breakdown. This coalition is undertaking the biggest reform of the welfare system for a generation. And at its heart is the belief that work must always pay better than welfare. If you want the slogan, 'changing lives through work'.

Describing this as 'our contract to the unemployed', IDS described remaining out of work as no longer an option, whilst committing the government to full provision of all necessary support to the most vulnerable who are unable to work - 'our contract with the disabled'. 'I will always fight for fairness' he declared, but fairness is a two way process. This he declared as 'our contract with the British taxpayer'.

He also suggested that yesterday's announcement on child benefit being withdrawn for those earning more than £44,000 per year was just one of the necessary measures to ensure that the deficit is reduced, and that if we fail to reduce that deficit, it is the poorest in our society that will suffer the most, '...leaving so many people trapped beyond hope, beyond aspiration'.

He ended with the words that on the 6th May, 'the British people honoured us. Now we must honour them.'