With more than a million job vacancies in this country, it’s nothing short of a scandal that 7million people of working age are economically inactive – 5.9million of them on universal credit.

The total has risen by 300,000 since the pandemic, and while some may be incapable of holding down a job for reasons of poor health, others should surely be able to find employment. With so many technical aids available for home working, is it really possible that 2.5million people classed as long-term sick or disabled are incapable of doing any paid hours at all?

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt certainly thinks not and tells the Mail today of a new carrot-and-stick approach to coax the workless into employment.

Benefit payments for the disabled and long-term sick would be protected if they took on work for a trial period.

Meanwhile, those on universal credit risk losing money if they refuse to accept work or fail to turn up for interviews. Also, if they work less than 18 hours a week (up from 12), they will be obliged to seek more.

Getting benefit claimants back into the workforce is good for the country and good for those concerned. It saves public money and reduces the pressure to bring in migrants to fill the 1.1million posts which are vacant.

More importantly, work generally makes people healthier, while earning one’s own money rather than relying on the state should instil pride and confidence.

This is not the first time ministers have tried to tackle benefit dependency. Sir Iain Duncan Smith had great success during the coalition years in transforming the benefit system to make work pay.

But that resolve has slipped since and inertia has set in. We welcome Mr Hunt’s campaign and hope it will galvanise the workless into action. Poor productivity has held Britain back for far too long. This initiative can help turn the tide.

Passport to misery

Anyone who has waited three months or more for their passport to be renewed might be forgiven for thinking Passport Office staff were already on strike.

Amazingly, that was the sub-standard service when they were working normally. So Lord knows how long those delays will be now they are planning a five-week walkout.

The decision to punish the long-suffering public with this spiteful action is particularly tin-eared, at a time when almost every other union is seeing sense and calling off their strikes.

The Public and Commercial Services union plans to create as much disruption as possible, calling their strike for the peak April period, during which an estimated 250,000 applications come in every week.

The strike will cause widespread stress as people wait anxiously to see whether passports arrive in time for their summer vacation and could well lead to family holidays being ruined altogether. So much for public service.

Emotion trumps logic

Parliament's decision to ban the import of hunting trophies into the UK was sadly a victory for emotion and sentimentality over common sense.

Despite representatives of five African countries saying that regulated hunting of big game was an essential and lucrative part of their conservation strategy, MPs allowed hearts to rule heads.

Like deer in London’s royal parks, animals will need to be culled anyway to preserve the health of the herds and to ensure they don’t become too numerous. Only now it will cost money rather than generating it.

Supporters of this Bill are no doubt bristling with pride over their virtuous stand against the odious hobby hunters. But according to local conservationists, they have caused more damage than they know.

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2023-03-18T02:16:57Z dg43tfdfdgfd