There are far too many people in West Dunbartonshire without a job and the Tories' economic failure means their potential is being wasted. But we are also wasting far too much money on a social security system that is no longer fit for purpose. Because of the Tories economic failure, the next Government will have to govern with much less money and if we want to protect our vital public services and turn our economy around then we have to be laser-focused on how every pound is spent.
Ed Miliband last week outlined a new approach to social security with four main points - finding work for everyone who can work, tackling low pay, rewarding those who have contributed more and spending money on houses instead of housing benefit.
Firstly, we should be a nation where people who can work, do work and not a country where people who can work end up on benefits. But the Tories have allowed long term worklessness to rise to its highest level for a generation while youth unemployment alone cost Britain �5 billion last year.
Labour would control social security spending by limiting the amount of time people can spend out of work through our Compulsory Jobs Guarantee and help unemployed parents prepare for the world of work, ready for when their children go to school.
But reform of social security needs to work both ways. People often don't get paid enough in work to make ends meet and the taxpayer is left to fill the gap through tax credits. There are far too many people who are in work but also in poverty and this needs to change so that welfare spending is no longer a substitute for decent jobs and pay.
I know that many people feel that our social security system isn't fair and doesn't always take in to account the contribution people have made throughout their lives. For example, somebody who loses their job gets the same job-seeker support whether they've been in work for two years or forty. So we are looking at ways to reward those who have worked for longer, paid into the system and suddenly found themselves out of work.
It is only by controlling social security spending that we'll be able to limit costs and ensure the next generation in West Dunbartonshire inherit a sustainable social security system that always rewards work and the desire to work, whilst still supporting those whose conditions make that difficult. Labour is the party of work, and it is our job to make it happen.