Alec Shelbrooke is the Member of Parliament for Elmet and Rothwell. Follow Alec on Twitter.
In December I introduced a Ten Minute Rule Bill to the House calling for the introduction of a Welfare Cash Card to ensure that welfare payments are used for the purchase of essential items; the purpose for which they are intended.
The media frenzy following my speech resulted in the principle of the Bill being lost in favour of a debate over well rehearsed left-wing rhetoric. The festive holidays brought a rare opportunity for calm reflection; untainted by the volatility of hyper partisan politics. As such, in the weeks that followed I have received numerous messages of support from people across the country – of all political persuasions - recognising the benefits my Bill will bring to detoxifying the label that is currently attached to those 5.8million people currently in receipt of one or more DWP benefits.
I want to stop benefits being a dirty word and bring about a new approach where people aren’t ashamed to be claiming benefits. We should be proud to live in a country that helps people get back on their feet when they need help. The previous Government allowed a two-tier benefit system to fester where the actions of a tiny minority of claimants have unfairly tarnished the reputation of benefits and of the hard-working but low-paid people who rely on them.