The GB News presenter claimed the system had long been overlooked and “tough” questions about how it is used have not been asked for decades. Alastair Stewart said the “costly” benefits apparatus should be reviewed to ensure those most in need of support received it and crafty applicants are weeded out. The GB News host said: “Some do not want to work, and won’t.
“We have a costly benefit system in the United Kingdom that allows that.
“I think we need a very close look at and hasn’t even been considered since Peter Lilley made his famous ‘I have a little list speech.’
“It does need a look though because we all pay for it and there are folk out there who do not get what they’re entitled to and really need it, particularly the elderly and the disabled.
“There are others in my view who get stuff that perhaps they don’t really need, but nobody asks anymore.”
Mr Stewart added: “Two of my guests have said it’s just too easy to milk it and that’s because nobody ever asks the tough question.”
Questions about Britain’s benefits system were reignited at the beginning of the pandemic when an increasing number of Britons found themselves relying on the Government’s furlough scheme as well as Universal Credit.
To respond to the economic pressure of lockdown, Chancellor Rishi Sunak introduced a £20 uplift to Universal Credit, an increase he confirmed would be cut from October 2021 as the British economy begins to recover.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he had “every sympathy” for those toughing it out on benefits, but that the £5-6 billion required to make the additional weekly payments permanent would have to “come out of some people’s pockets”.
Mr Johnson earlier this week was quizzed on whether he thought the reduction to the incomes of millions of people could become a “political problem”.
According to the latest confirmed Government statistics, as of July 8, there were 5.9 million people on UC, with Citizens Advice suggesting more than a third of those are currently in work.
Mr Johnson told reporters on Wednesday: “I have every sympathy for people who are finding it tough, I really, really do – but we have to recognise that in order to maintain the Covid uplift you’ve got to find another £5-6 billion in tax.
“That has got to come out of some people’s pockets.”
Business minister Paul Scully told broadcasters on Thursday that making the additional weekly payments permanent would be the equivalent of putting a penny on income tax or 3p on fuel duty.
The Treasury provided the additional £20 per week to benefit recipients during the pandemic but Chancellor Rishi Sunak has so far been adamant it must end by October.
The uplift was meant to last a year but was extended by six months in the March Budget.
The Prime Minister was also asked during his Stateside travels whether he could live on £118 per week – the amount a worker must be earning below to qualify for state support if they get ill with Covid-19 and are not entitled to statutory sick pay.
The Conservative Party leader replied by saying that wages are on the rise but lamented how earnings have been suppressed for more than a decade.