The welfare state has been a failure, encouraging moral decay over two generations, and should be scrapped forthwith
• When the Lloyd-George government first floated the idea of a welfare state, it was a radical idea - paradoxically sparked by developments in Bismark's administration, in Germany, during the reign of Kaiser Wilhelm II. It was reappraised in wartime Britain by Beveridge, in 1943, as a blueprint for the modern welfare state. It matters not what style of welfarism a modern industrial economy runs, it is always subject to moral hazard.
The systems usually mutates into something quite different as politicians manipulate the concept to bribe voters with their own money. Given that politicians, with the aid of cronies at their central banks can print or borrow money almost without short-term restraint, the temptation to do so is irresistible to the electioneering politician.
Yet this was never the original intention. The Lloyd-George and Beveridge ideas were to fund a system of benefits paid for by compulsory subscriptions called national insurance stamps. Still laughingly called so even today – although, everyone knows it is just another tax. Remember that the vehicle excise was called the road fund licence? The Atlee administration completely wandered from the path of self-sustainability after only a few short years of government. As the welfare state grew to mind-boggling amounts, the original – perhaps, worthy - concept of a 'safety net' was discarded. It became a cradle to grave monster and Kenneth Clark as Chancellor took it through the £100bn a year barrier, in the 1990s.
Of course, the problem we now have is that welfare has become a lifestyle choice keeping people in a twilight world of semi poverty. Trapped in a system where the deserving and undeserving poor are treated equally, welfare spending is out of control - as it was bound to be as it is non-discriminatory. In the last few years, we have seen a million immigrants come to the UK to do jobs at the unskilled end of the market. Not because we have no one to do them, but because a welfare recipient can get as much money for claiming benefits and watching daytime television as rising at 6am to pick sprouts on a frosty November morning.
It is natural, therefore, that anyone who is eligible to come here wants their hand in the till. Other countries think we are mad, try and apply for welfare in Italy as an immigrant and see how far you get. It is too easy to blame the immigrants for welfare tourism, when we need to blame the system. We must put in place a real safety net, not a lifestyle alternative. It matters not whether you are British or foreign. No one should live at the expense of his neighbour. I would argue the welfare state has been a failure encouraging moral decay in the nation over two generations and should be scrapped forthwith.
Godfrey Bloom is the UK Independence Party MEP for Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire