The latest British Social Attitudes findings, which show that growing numbers of people have swallowed the fiction that benefits levels in the UK are too high, perhaps explain why the government this week feels able to float plans for another round of devastating benefit cuts.Ahhh, yes. Because they couldn’t possibly have come to that conclusion themselves, by having seen first hand the benefit levels, could they?
No, it has to have been the media’s fault…
The furore last year about the fairness of uprating benefits even with the lower CPI measure when average earnings were lagging behind prices was a further piece of political insincerity. What was conveniently obscured in the debate was the fact that for many years, benefits have risen at a significantly lower level than wages.Well, yes. They aren’t a direct comparison to wages. They were never meant to be.
As earnings have raced ahead, this has resulted in a stark disconnect between wages and benefits…Again, yes. They don’t replace a wage, they are there to tide you over, to provide the very basics. That’s all.
The government is presenting the idea of a benefits freeze as a necessary step in order to save an additional £10bn in 2015/16 from a social security budget that is already decimated by £18bn of cuts. And such assaults on the incomes of the poorest are justified by reference to the very social attitudes that this and previous governments have done so much to foment.Do you mean the ‘social attitude’ that it’s better not to sponge off the sweat of others? And referring to benefits as ‘income’ is rather telling, isn’t it?
At the risk of stating the obvious, benefits are already inadequate for basic needs. If an out-of-work family with one child claims their full benefit entitlement, the income they receive provides only 65% of the funds required to live above the poverty line.I’m not going to go into the definition of poverty being used, because we’ve been here so many times before. But if benefits are really ‘inadequate for basic needs’, then I’d suggest that that’s entirely the point! That’s what we want them to be. That way, people won’t spend their whole lives on them.
And maybe people need to re-evaluate just what a ‘basic need’ is…
For those in work and receiving tax credits life is a little better. However, a family with two children and both parents working at the national minimum wage will still only receive an income that constitutes 94% of the amount needed to live a life free of poverty if they take up all the benefits available to them.Hey, here’s an idea. On a minimum wage job? Have one kid. That way, you can afford it!
. The chancellor and his cabinet colleagues must reject this disgraceful proposal, which is just another assault on those living in poverty, shamefully dressed up as a necessary aspect of fiscal austerity. It would cut the poorest families adrift from the rest of society and further batter the coalition's poverty record.The only thing that I can see ‘cutting the poorest families adrift from society’ is their attitude (and that of their cheerleaders and enablers) that society somehow owes them a living.