Support for benefit cuts ‘linked to ignorance’

Trade unions are warning the government not to count on continuing voter support for capping benefit rises. A new poll commissioned by the TUC has found that those people least able to give accurate answers to basic questions about benefits are the most likely to back cuts. Once people are made aware of the full facts, support for cuts drops significantly.

The YouGov poll found widespread ignorance about benefits:

Key poll findings

  • On average, people think 41 per cent of the total social security budget goes on benefits to unemployed people – the true figure is just 3 per cent.
  • People think 27 per cent of the budget is claimed fraudulently – the government's own figure is 0.7 per cent.
  • People think an unemployed couple with two school-age children gets £147 a week in jobseeker's allowance – more than 30 per cent higher than the actual amount, £111.45.
  • More than half (53 per cent) of those showing the least knowledge about benefits think they are too generous, whereas among those giving the most accurate answers the figure is less than a third (31 per cent).
  • When the full implications of benefit cuts for low-paid workers are made clear, support for the cuts drops from 48 per cent to just 30 – as against 40 per cent who are opposed.

Source: Press release 4 January 2013, Trades Union Congress
Links: TUC press release | Poll results (spreadsheet)