From the TUC

Benefit cuts: Government support relies on keeping people in the dark

04 Jan 2013, by in Society & Welfare

Infographic on attitudes to benefits

Graphic from today’s Independent on our poll findings

The government should perhaps be a little more cautious over the level of public support they believe they enjoy for welfare cuts. We’ve got a new YouGov poll out today, which has found that those supporting the government approach are more likely to be those currently in a position of ignorance on the issues.

YouGov asked people a series of questions to gauge their understanding of, and attitudes to, the UK welfare system. The results were interesting in themselves. For example, on average people thought that:

  • 41% of the welfare budget went on benefits to unemployed people (it’s actually 3% of the budget)
  • 27% of it is claimed fraudulently (the government’s own figure is 0.7%)
  • an unemployed couple with two school-age children would get £147 in JSA (over 30% higher than the real figure of £111.45)

They then placed the respondents in three groups, by how correct they had been in their quiz answers, and compared this to attitudes. Interestingly, those who had the least accurate picture of welfare, had by some way the most negative attitudes toward the system and recipients. 53% of the least accurate group believed benefits were too generous, compared to 31% of the group who had the most accurate understanding.

Even more of a concern for Iain Duncan Smith and his colleagues, though, could be that once people find out more, their support can shift. The poll respondents believed three to one (64% to 21% – less the don’t knows) that the benefit cap will mainly hit the unemployed. When they were told that it would affect low-paid workers, majority support for it turned to majority opposition. Amongst those with the least knowledge, 54% support for the cap falls to 32%.

For more on this story, have a look at Frances O’Grady’s piece on Huffington Post, and Nicola Smith at Public Finance blog. The Indy also has a good article, from which the graphic above is taken.

And for the stats geeks, you can find more of the poll results here (Excel workbook)

3 Responses to Benefit cuts: Government support relies on keeping people in the dark

  1. alexander Shannon
    Jan 4th 2013, 3:52 pm

    Thank you for posting this info. I do think it’s worth making people aware of the actual correct figures rather than just estimates.

  2. Someone with two brain cells to rub together
    Jan 5th 2013, 5:37 pm

    Very disappointed to see this graphic in the i. It is as guilty of deception as the (undoubtedly ludicrous) claims of the Tories:

    The 3% refers only to unemployment benefit – i.e. money because you are out of work. However they are counting all tax credits in this as well as other benefits that the government would also pay out to people who were unemployed, such as for family & children as well as housing (which is one of the largest sources of benefits to the unemployed, it’s just not called unemployment benefit, so naturally the TUC wouldn’t even think of including this in it’s figures).

    It takes only a moments thought to disprove this ridiculous chart – 2.6% of people in the UK are currently on Job Seeker’s Allowance. If we assume that 0.4% of the population don’t claim welfare at all – the reality is, I would guess, much higher – then you would receive approximately the same amount of welfare whether you had a job or not. As this claim is quite obviously bollocks, it is obvious that neither does this chart.

    A better estimate of how much benefits are given to people JUST for being unemployed (before having their rent covered etc.) is 7.5%. This is 13.5% of the total central government welfare budget.

    Also the over-estimate to the right sets people up to fail as they don’t mention the maximum in Job Seeker’s Allowance you can get as a couple of any variety (with 0 children, 1 child or 2 or however many) is £111.45 – the question itself is misleading, as it implies the children would have some affect on the amount of money received, and the TUC unsurprisingly refuse to mention the child benefits available. Amusingly enough, if child benefit is included aswell as job seekers allowance then those two children would in fact bring the family up to £145.15 a week – pretty damned close to what people thought the claimants would receive in JSA only, assuming it was affected by the number of children they had.

    Oh, and 27.8% long term unemployed isn’t a rate to be proud of.

    For a group that is so ideologically far from the Tories, the unions currently seem to share a methodology of slander, deception and outright lies. Indeed, it seems the only difference is the TUC want to protect people today even if it means fucking over their children and going the way of Greece. The Tories at least accept we are living beyond our means, even if they can be scumbags about how they go about fixing this.

  3. unemployment benefits and earnings | ToUChstone blog: A public policy blog from the TUC
    Jan 8th 2013, 5:20 pm

    […] suspicious mind might think that the benefit cap has more to do with politics than economics, given the support – albeit very superficial – for cuts to unemployment […]