IAN HART Clarification is needed

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ALL feedback on this column, whether negative or positive, is good, so my thanks go to Mr Bill Geddes of Lansdowne Road for taking the time and trouble to write to the Herald with some observations on the content of this column.

However, there are a number of points brought up in his letter that require both a reply and some clarification.

Mr Geddes accusing me of having a go at immigrants, describing them as “strangers in the town”. Given the fact that in 1801 Worthing had a population of 2,151 and now has in excess of 100,000 people living here, most of our forefathers were once newcomers to the town.

As a proud Worthing resident, I, like everyone else, welcome new people to the town of all races, colours and creeds. My point which perhaps Mr Geddes only partly alludes to is the fact that recent social housing projects in the town have not taken existing Worthing residents off the housing list but have instead seen other boroughs, primarily from London, sending their existing tenants, predominantly while, I hasten to add, to occupy the new properties. My point was, should we not reduce our own housing list first, rather than importing other tenants from other councils?

Mr Geddes describes the “appalling government’s strategy” over the benefit system. If he thinks that capping a single households benefits at £26,000 net (£35,000 gross) is wrong then we clearly will have to agree to differ.

How many pensioners in Worthing, who have worked hard and paid into the system all of their lives, get an income from the state on this level?

Paying out that kind of money for basically doing nothing almost destroys the basic work ethic for future generations. Thankfully, I know of a lot of people with families who would rather work all week for an income less than the proposed benefit cap, because: a) they want to work. b) they want to give their children the aforementioned work ethic.

Mr Geddes goes on about my view of denying people the right of having a television or something to sit on, which is again a little wide of the mark. My actual point was that when ITV Daybreak went to a long-time claimant’s house who said they would struggle on £26,000 a year, they had the plasma screen TV and the nice sofa from one of the high street shops, which does make you wonder about the whole concept of the benefits system. What message does that ultimately send out to the people who do work?

He talks about an increase in beggars, which is certainly something I would not want to see; in fact, I support the Worthing Churches Homeless Projects, who do a superb job eradicating a very serious problem.

Mr Geddes finishes by saying I would have us believe the underclass will eventually bleed this country dry.

If you have a number of people who do nothing, yet draw money from the system, and they are followed by another generation with the same ethic, with so many taking out rather than putting in, the coffers will run dry, regardless of how much the rest of us put in.

Mr Geddes is entitled to his opinion, as am I, but clearly on this occasion our views are poles apart.