This week the Commons voted on a Bill to cap the rise in welfare benefits at 1 per cent.  I see this as a basic issue of fairness.  The welfare system is important, but it has to be paid for by working people, and most benefit levels have risen twice as fast as average earnings since the financial crisis.

Many people working in the private sector have experienced freezes in their wages for some time now, and public sector pay rises have been capped at 1 per cent, too.

When the deficit has to be dealt with - and one in every three pounds the Government spends is on some form of welfare - it must be right to limit the rise in benefits accordingly.

Those with the greatest need have been protected.  For instance, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Carer's Allowance, Incapacity Benefit and Severe Disablement Allowance will all be uprated in line with inflation.

I also think the time had come to question whether it was right that benefits were being paid to people on relatively high incomes.  People on £50,000 a year are not rich, especially in the South East where living costs are very high.  But they are in the top 15 per cent of earners.

Average earnings are far lower than this, at around £26,000 a year.  It is very difficult to justify the lowest earners effectively subsidising better off families through their taxes.

So now those earning over £50,000 a year will face an income tax charge on child benefit, while those earning over £60,000 will lose it altogether.  However, 90 per cent of all families with children will still receive child benefit. 

Most people who are in work will benefit from the biggest ever increase in the personal allowance coming this April.  This year also sees the introduction of Universal Credit which will provide a big boost for working people on low incomes.  And the Government's action on fuel duty will help families with the costs of running a car.

The welfare system spiralled out of control under the last government, with the bill rising by 60 per cent.  It's working people who have to pay for welfare, and in tough times it's right to protect the taxpayer by making sure that the bills are under control.

Christopher N Howarth