When this Government was elected, the Secretary of State for Works and Pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, launched a massive overhaul of the way benefits are distributed in this country.
Right now, a claimant receives each benefit through different agencies depending on the nature of the benefit. This results in waste and inefficiency on the part of the departments involved. Through the Universal Credit, claimants will receive a single payment from the government for whichever benefits they are entitled to.
Furthermore, benefits will be reformed to ensure that every able-bodied claimant who can work is always financially better off working instead of on benefits.
Over the long term, we hope this will change the entire culture of benefits in this country, so that taxpayers here in Lincolnshire know that we are concentrating on spending their money on those who need it most.
This week saw the year’s budget unveiled in the House of Commons. I have been pressuring the Government to ensure the Treasury focuses on providing immediate relief for hard-working families, but we also can’t abandon dealing with the massive deficit inherited from the previous government.
You may have seen on Look North this week on the floor of the Commons I invited Ed Davey, the climate change secretary, to come to Lincolnshire to admire our glorious views from the edge of the Wolds and show him how they would be ruined by enormous wind farms. I’m not holding my breath to see if he’ll come.
With a new pope in Rome, it’s worth pointing out that Britain currently enjoys very good relations with the Holy See (as the Vatican is known in diplomatic affairs). Many often assume that this is not very important, and that we should focus on other matters in our international relations. But we should remember that the Vatican represents 1.2 billion people worldwide. To put that in perspective, China has 1.4 billion and India has 1.2 billion as well.
The Vatican isn’t a trading partner but I’m sure you’ll agree we shouldn’t lose sight of the important moral aspects which the churches are here to remind us of. This is also true of the Church of England, and last week in the Commons I spoke up in defence of the independence of the Church of England from government interference.
However, this Government is doing an excellent job at promoting British trade relations abroad. The Prime Minister has completed a whirlwind tour of the Middle East and the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has also been to India to promote British trade and industry as well as higher education.
But Theresa May, the Home Secretary, is completely right to tighten up the process to get visas to study in the UK, as she has recently done. We must ensure the best and brightest are free to come to England, but that doesn’t mean letting colleges act as conduits for immigration through the back door. Slowly but surely, we are making progress.
MP for Gainsborough