Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

ENCORE!

Encore's Film Show: Julie Gayet, Denzel Washington, and cartoon madness

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Turkey's strategy towards the Islamic State group

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

France defends deficit reduction delay in 2015 budget

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'France is sinking!'

Read more

WEB NEWS

Global support pours in for Hong Kong protesters

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

Ebola: UN sets target of 60 days to turn things around

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

On the frontline of horror: Editing images from war zones

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's desperate seas: Migrant deaths crossing Mediterranean top 3,000 in 2014 (part 2)

Read more

DEBATE

Europe's desperate seas: Migrant deaths crossing Mediterranean top 3,000 in 2014

Read more

Europe

Life on benefits a ‘lifestyle choice’, says UK PM

© AFP

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2013-04-07

Living on benefits has become a “lifestyle choice” UK Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday, amid a heated debate on the country’s welfare system. The UK’s coalition government is looking at large-scale cutbacks due to the financial crisis.

Prime Minister David Cameron said Sunday that Britain's welfare system had "lost its way" and become a "lifestyle choice", amid a raging debate on government cutbacks to state handouts.

Cameron's Conservative-Liberal coalition government, trying to rein in the national budget deficit, is bringing in a series of changes to the system this month -- in the face of bitter opposition from the Labour Party.

The debate has been fuelled by the case of Mick Philpott, a nationally notorious welfare-dependent father of 18, who was jailed last week for the manslaughter of six children in setting fire to his own house.

Conservative finance minister George Osborne was blasted by Labour in unusually fierce terms when, asked whether Philpott was a product of the welfare system, he suggested there needed to be a debate about whether taxpayers should be subsidising lifestyles like his.

Opposition Labour finance spokesman Ed Balls said for Osborne "to link this wider debate to this shocking crime is nasty and divisive and demeans his office".

Writing in The Sun newspaper, Cameron launched a staunch defence of the welfare shake-up, which includes capping the amount a household can claim at national average earnings.

He suggested it was "crazy" that welfare claimants could have a bigger income than workers.

The Conservative leader suggested that a system originally designed to protect the frail and be a "stopgap" was now backfiring.

"It was invented to help people escape poverty, but has trapped too many people in it. It was meant to be a stopgap in hard times, but has become a lifestyle choice for some. It was designed to bring us together, but is causing resentment," he said.

"No-one wants to work hard every day and see their hard-earned taxes being used to fund things they themselves cannot afford or keep generations dependent on welfare.

"So this month we are making some big changes. They are changes that have a simple principle at their heart: we are restoring the fairness that should lie at the very heart of our tax and welfare systems.

"We are saying to each and every hard-working person in our country: we are on your side."

The debate has set not only politicians at each other's throats but also newspapers and commentators of opposing political stripes.

Meanwhile a YouGov opinion poll for The Sun found that six out of 10 voters thought welfare handouts were too generous.

Some 67 percent said the system needed an overhaul while 79 percent back the government's move to limit a family's welfare payments to £26,000 ($40,000, 31,000 euros) a year -- the average working family income.

(AFP)

Date created : 2013-04-07

  • UK

    French far right heaps praise on Britain’s Cameron

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    Frenchman self-immolates over unemployment benefits

    Read more

  • INDIA

    Anglo-French rivalry peaks as Cameron plugs trade in India

    Read more

COMMENT(S)