THE Government's welfare reforms, though criticised by church
groups and charities, are "in tune with public opinion", the 29th
British Social Attitudes (BSA) survey suggests.
The BSA report, released this week, is based on a survey of 3000
people, selected using a technique called random-probability
sampling. The research was carried out by the National Centre for
The survey suggests a hardening in public attitudes towards
those receiving benefits, despite higher levels of unemployment
caused by the recession. For example, 37 per cent of respondents in
2011 believed that people on the dole were "fiddling".
Fifteen per cent of respondents said in 2011 that unemployed
people should receive higher benefits, compared with 22 per cent in
2002; 53 per cent thought that the disabled who could not work
should receive higher benefits, down from 72 per cent in 2002; and
29 per cent believed that single parents should receive more
benefits, compared with 40 per cent in 2002.
Fifty-four per cent of respondents believed that people would
"stand on their own two feet" if benefits were less generous; in
1993, only 25 per cent of respondents believed this. The view that
welfare benefits encourage dependence "clearly . . . chimes with
the rationale claimed by the Coalition for its welfare reforms",
the survey says.
The Government's Welfare Reform Act, which received Royal Assent
in March, will replace six tax credits - including child tax
credits, working tax credits, and Jobseeker's Allowance - with a
Universal Credit. The changes have been criticised by several MPs
and charities, including the Children's Society, which warned that
as many as 100,000 of the poorest families in the country would
lose up to £4000 a year of child-care when the Universal Credit was
introduced next year (
News, 14 September).
The BSA survey argues, however, that its data "clearly show"
that public attitudes to welfare "are generally moving in line with
the current direction of government policy. . . There is less
enthusiasm about public spending on all types of benefits, and an
increasing belief that the welfare system encourages