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Reforms 'get Britain back to work'

The Government's package of welfare reforms have helped "get Britain back to work", Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith is claiming.

In a speech a day after his Department for Work and Pensions announced it expects changes to welfare to save taxpayers £50 billion over the course of the Parliament, Mr Duncan Smith will say that the strength of the labour market is evidence that benefit reforms are also having an impact by boosting economic activity.

He will accuse the former Labour government of trapping people in welfare dependency and robbing them of the drive to go to work, and say that his reforms have given jobless people the incentive to seek and take employment.

Speaking in London a year after the implementation of a raft of welfare reforms - including the so-called "bedroom tax", the introduction of Personal Independence Payments for disabled people and the imposition of the £500-a-week benefit cap - Mr Duncan Smith will say that changes to benefits have played a crucial part in "creating a stable economy matched by a strong society where people are ready and capable of work".

He will credit economic reforms introduced by Chancellor George Osborne for creating the conditions which gave private businesses the confidence and freedom to create 1.7 million jobs since the election.

But he will say that welfare reforms have also played a key part in creating current record levels of employment, as well as falling numbers of people absent from the labour market, falling long-term unemployment, and falling workless households.

"Whilst others have questioned and puzzled over the record employment Britain is now seeing, as the Work and Pensions Secretary I have long believed that the strength of our labour market would both drive Britain's great economic recovery, and increase as a result," he is expected to say.

" First, this Government created the conditions for growth, and gave businesses the freedom and confidence to create jobs. Second, we drove a programme of welfare reform where every change was designed to get Britain back to work - giving people previously left to languish out of work the skills and the incentive to take those jobs."

The programme of reforms to the welfare system was " at its heart, about breaking the chains of dependency and supporting people to achieve their potential - giving them the freedom to secure a better future for themselves and their families", he is expected to say.

"In reforming a broken welfare system, I have had one overriding intention - to get Britain working again."

Mr Duncan Smith is expected to say: "Labour's Great Recession slashed 7.2% off our economy and cost 750,000 people their jobs.

"Following the crash we heard gloomy forecasts of a million jobs disappearing from the private sector, mass unemployment, lost generations - yet they could not have proved more wrong.

"Britain's economic recovery is established and taking hold faster than forecast - and nowhere are the signs of this recovery clearer than in our labour market."

Mr Duncan Smith will also detail a new package of measures being unveiled by employment minister Esther McVey and due to come into effect this month, which will require jobseekers to take steps to make themselves attractive to employers before they claim Jobseeker's Allowance.


From Belfast Telegraph