73 per cent support for benefit cap

A large majority of the public agree with the principle behind the benefit cap, and think that those affected by it should be prepared to find jobs or work more hours, according to an opinion survey carried out for the Department for Work and Pensions.

Ipsos MORI conducted an online survey of 2,017 British adults between 31 May and 5 June 2013.

Key findings

  • 88 per cent of people agree that it is important to have a benefits system to provide a 'safety net' for anyone who needs it, with only four per cent disagreeing. But only 11 per cent agree that the benefits system is working effectively at present. 50 per cent say the system is 'too generous', as opposed to 20 per cent who say it is not generous enough.
  • 85 per cent agree that there are some groups of claimants who should have their benefits cut. 58 per cent agree that politicians need to do more to reduce the amount of money paid out in benefits, with 19 per cent disagreeing. 47 per cent agree that benefit payments for unemployed people are too high and discourage them from finding jobs, compared with 31 per cent who disagree.
  • 73 per cent say they support the principle of a benefit cap, and 12 per cent oppose it. Attitudes to the specific cap level of £26,000 a year are largely the same (though with slightly lower majorities in favour), as they are when the cap is explained in terms of 'the average amount which working households earn per year after tax'.
  • Support for the cap weakens if it is understood as requiring people to spend less on household essentials (49 per cent support, 22 per cent oppose) or move to cheaper accommodation in alternative areas (44 per cent support, 26 per cent oppose). Respondents are almost evenly split when asked if they think capping benefits 'is unfair on those claimants living in areas where housing costs are high'.
  • 80 per cent think people affected by the cap should respond by finding ways of reducing their living costs and bills; 70 per cent say they should be prepared to find new or alternative work or work more hours; and 51 per cent say they should be prepared to move to a similar size property in a cheaper area.

Source: Ipsos MORI, The Benefit Cap: Public Perceptions and Pre-Implementation Effects, Research Report 850, Department for Work and Pensions
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Publication date: 
Oct 10 2013