‘Negative’ attitudes to housing benefit claimants

Public discussion of housing benefit is heavily influenced by negative attitudes towards claimants, according to a report from the Fabian Society think tank. But it says there are also ways in which a more positive debate could be fostered, and makes a series of recommendations for anti-poverty campaigners.

Key recommendations

  • Campaigns should seek to elicit emotional responses to housing benefit, by generating stories based on accounts of poverty and homelessness that people can easily relate to.
  • Campaigns should seek to generate conversations about housing benefit and poverty. In particular, people who have no experiences of poverty and housing insecurity must be given more opportunities to consider the perspective of those who do.
  • Negative views about housing benefit can be strongly held and are often deeply emotional in nature. These will take time to address and campaigns must recognise that people will often hold contradictory views.
  • Campaigns need to do more to highlight the nature of poverty and its causes, including more 'hidden' forms such as in-work poverty.
  • Campaigns should frame housing benefit as a symptom that distracts from the need to tackle the root causes of housing need.

Source: Natan Doron and Robert Tinker, Home Truths: How to Change Attitudes to Housing Benefit, Fabian Society

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