Long-awaited and important welfare reforms are on their way through Parliament, albeit not without opposition from the Labour Party and some of the senior clergy.
Welfare reform is not just about saving money, important though that is at a time like this. It is actually about a fairer system and a cultural change that emphasises the importance of going out to work for a living.
The Coalition Government is quite simply saying that families who live on benefits should not be taking home more each week than those who take home the average wage of £26,000 a year (which equates pre-tax to a salary of £35,000). This is all about emphasising that those who work and pay their taxes should not be worse off than the people their taxes pay for in benefit. It is also making it clear that for those who are fit to work, it pays to work, rather than sitting idle at home.
Of course, the Government will also do everything it can to help people back into work through better education, apprenticeships and skills development. It has taken on a number of expert providers to mentor those who may find the move into work daunting and difficult. Crucially, these providers will only be paid on successful outcomes. They have to be proper jobs, and placements have to last. But, ultimately, the goal is to make work, for all those who can, the norm.
For far too long there have been families in which literally everyone is living on benefit. What sort of message is that for the children growing up amongst them?
Some worry that the cap will make it impossible for benefit claimants to go on living in certain more expensive areas, like central London, for example. But, of course, there are many people who work hard for their living who could never, ever afford to live in such places on the money they bring home from their job. So, again, this is about fairness.
I believe the vast majority of people in this country support these measures, because they see them as fair. A recent YouGov poll showed that 76 per cent of the public approved of the benefit cap. The people I have spoken to when knocking on doors in Ealing and Acton, have confirmed as much to me.