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British social attitudes to welfare reform

  • 01/07/2016
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This article is over a year old

A new report reveals social attitudes to welfare reform

Money and payslip

A major new report has found that the majority of the British public are opposed to welfare cuts in general, yet are in support of limiting the circumstances in which certain benefits can be received.

The 33rd annual British Social Attitudes report by NatCen Social Research aims to uncover the consequences of seven years of austerity for social and political attitudes in Britain. It looks at attitudes towards five areas: class, the benefits system, the NHS, politics and work.

Welfare reform

The researchers found that in most cases, there was little support for cutting welfare benefits, with 75% saying they would like to see more spending on welfare for people who care for someone with an illness or disability. 61% are in support for increased welfare spending for parents who work on very low incomes and those who are unable to work due to a disability.

One instance where there is more considerable support, though still less than majority backing, for reducing benefits is in respect of the unemployed. 45% are in favour of less government spending on benefits for unemployed people, whilst 60% think that the duration of receiving unemployment benefits should be limited.

Spare room subsidy

Researchers also looked at one of the major welfare changes introduced in 2013 – removal of the ‘spare bedroom subsidy’ within Housing Benefit for social tenants, also known as the ‘bedroom tax’. There was much less support for this policy than limiting eligibility for unemployment benefit. While 40% think the amount of money a working-age couple receives in these circumstances should be reduced, 55% do not think it should be reduced and a quarter are “definitely opposed to the idea”.

The report reveals that support for welfare reform is strongly influenced by measures of ideology including political party identification. Other factors including self-interest and age also play a role. The importance of different characteristics varies in relation to different elements of reform and benefit types.

You can find out more about previous and upcoming welfare changes on our Benefits Changes Timetable.

Read the full British Social Attitudes report


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