ONE in four benefit claimants is embarrassed about what other
people will think about him or her, a new survey suggests.
Twenty-seven per cent of benefit claimants say that they have
hidden the fact, because they worry about what other people will
think of them. This figure rises to 47 per cent among those aged 16
The survey was carried out by YouGov on behalf of the campaign
Who Benefits?, which is co-ordinated by more than 70 charities. It
seeks to give a voice to benefit claimants.
Eighty-one per cent of those polled believe that "benefits are
an important safety net to support people when they need help," and
64 per cent agree that "we all benefit as a society when support
from benefits is available for those that need it." But of people
who have never claimed, 51 per cent say that they would be
embarrassed to do so.
In a joint letter to The Times this week, the charities
called on politicians to stop maligning benefit claimants. They
said: "Politicians of all parties need to do more to understand the
real experiences of people supported by benefits, who are too often
ignored, misrepresented, or even blamed for their situation. The
extreme examples we typically hear about do not reflect the
realities of life for the vast majority of those really in
The Who Benefits? campaign asks people to share their stories
about claiming benefits online and on social media, using the
Laura Grace, a mother of four, says that she is dependent on the
£140 a week she gets in children's tax credits. "It helps me to put
food on the table for my family, buy clothes and school uniforms
for my children, and prevent the gas and electricity from being cut
off. Without this support I don't know how we would survive."
"At a time when families up and down the country are feeling the
squeeze, it is important - now more than ever - that society
supports those in need," the CEO of the Children's Society, Matthew
Reed, said. "The overwhelming majority of people who get benefits
really need them."
The CEO of MIND, Paul Farmer, said: "These new statistics
suggest those who claim benefits experience double the stigma."