THE government has announced an overhaul of welfare benefits. The subject is complicated, and every week I see several residents sinking under the complexity of 30-plus different benefit schemes.
Very often it does not pay to work or save, since the system claws back any income earned. And the cost to the tax payer of welfare is spiralling out of control.
Five million people are on out-of-work benefits, many for long periods. The system is a mess.
We propose, starting in 2013, to bring the main benefits together and ensure that everyone moving from benefits to work - full or part-time - keeps at least 35p of any extra pound they earn. Much better than now but still tough (high earners complain about a 50p rate!)
More controversial are measures to cut the escalating bill for housing benefit and for various disability benefits. On the former, the tax payer is subsidising inflated rents. But there will be a squeeze, and some hard cases, in high rent parts of London like ours.
On disability, we must help those who are able to work to do so and that involves removing widespread access barriers.
Some people are 'swinging the lead' but most disabled people need support to fulfil their potential. There have to be occasional checks to prevent abuse without causing unnecessary stress to those with terminal illness or degenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer's, motor neurone disease and blindness.
There is also genuine anxiety about inspectors not understanding specialist problems - like mental illness - or working on a bonus system.
It is easier to get people off welfare into work in a growing economy. That is why we have to sort out the inherited budget deficit and banking crisis so that business and employment can grow with confidence.
Twickenham constituents can call Vince Cable on 020 8892 0215, or visit his website at www.vincentcable.com