Survey shows hardening in attitudes to welfare

Three in four agree that ‘the government pays out too much in benefits and welfare levels overall should be reduced’ according to a survey of attitudes to welfare presented in an article in the March edition of Prospect magazine.

The survey, carried out by Yougov, shows that only 17 per cent disagree. The article, ‘A quiet revolution’, by Peter Kellner, concludes: ‘People are turning against welfare, other than help for the elderly and disabled.’

This followed an earlier article by David Goodhart, ‘Who will break the big taboos’, which appeared in the February edition of Prospect. Goodhart drew on British Social Attitudes survey data to show a marked decline in support for redistribution since the mid-1980s. Goodhart concludes that ‘There has been a quiet conservative revolution in attitudes to welfare over the past two decades.’

A critique of Peter Kellner’s piece on the online blog, Left Foot Forward, argues that although the public may dislike social security spending in the aggregate, they are much more positive about most individual benefits. ‘Thus, while the coalition aims to cut Disability Living Allowance expenditure and caseload by 20 per cent, the poll shows the majority want expenditure to stay where it is or increase – even if that means higher taxes – while only 11 per cent favour cuts.’

Strong support for cuts was confined to only two of the six types of benefit recipient: unemployed people and unmarried single parents, where 42 per cent and 44 per cent favoured cuts. ‘So the focus of the demand for cuts is not “welfare” as a whole, but out-of-work benefits to non-disabled people.’

See also:

A quiet revolution, Prospect Magazine (subscription only)

The benefits Britons want to save are the ones the government wants to cut, Left Foot Forward

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