Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Conservative MP for Kensington, discusses welfare changes in this week's political column.
The government has limited the amount of money a family on benefits can receive from the state to the same level as the average income of families who are not on benefits.
These measures will save much taxpayers’ money and the public knows government cuts have been necessary.
In 2011 the total public debt was about £135,000 per household and, although the coalition has cut the deficit by a quarter, while there is a deficit, the debt will rise.
The reforms are designed to liberate people from long-term benefits dependency by encouraging them to do more to seek work, and ensuring that work pays. And the government will support those who do not at first succeed, to persevere.
The results are clear: employment rates have risen for months, and at 7.8% we have a lower unemployment rate than the EU and that of the US.
But living standards are being squeezed. Many in the private sector have had stagnant or falling wages, while the public sector has had a 1% cap rises. It is just, as well as necessary, that the increase in working-age benefits should be in line with that of workers’ wages.
The coalition is taking the low-paid out of tax altogether, while delivering a 1% annual cash increase. Furthermore, the state pension is not affected and will rise by 2.5%, in line with inflation.
Welfare reform is about building a system that delivers opportunities as well as support to the unemployed and lowest paid, in good economic times and bad. The interests of those who rely on the welfare system are best served by ensuring that it is sustainable.