November 27, 2006 in Politics

Britian’s Welfare State

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I get ticked off every time I read reports about the number of people in Britain living off the state. Now, if you are an elderly person, single mother with young children or truly disabled — not just faking it, I have no problem with the government providing a helping hand.
But 5.4million out of a population of 60.4 million is just a bit too high and I can’t help but think that a lot of these people are just being lazy. And this annoys me to no end every time I look at my monthly pay slip and realize that the government is taking up to 40% of my earnings to give to these yahoos!
Even more annoying are rich or middle class people who cheat the state. As such, something has got to be done. No government should be encouraging their citizens to be on welfare and Britian seems to be doing that big time!

Rich claim benefits in ‘Welfare nation’ as millions remain trapped in poverty
London Times, Anthony Browne, Chief Political Correspondent, November 27 2006
The Government is spending more on welfare than on education or law and order, but the vast sums are doing little to relieve poverty, according to a think-tank.
A study entitled Reforming Welfare says that Gordon Brown, the Chancellor, has constructed an expensive welfare and benefits system that is “not fit for purpose” and requires a radical overhaul.
The study is by the right-of-centre think-tank Reform, which promotes the liberalisation of public services and extended choice. It claims that Labour has created a benefits nation, with two in five households — including many of the richest — claiming handouts.
Rather than encouraging people to work, the benefits often end up punishing those who want to better themselves. Britain must start a national debate on the failings of its welfare system, according to the think-tank.
The welfare state cost £79 billion last year, more than is spent on the entire education system, twice as much as on law and order and almost as much as on the NHS. It totals nearly £3,000 a household a year.There are 51 different benefits, with 39 per cent of households claiming one or more. Although the Chancellor often boasts about his record on unemployment, there are 5.4 million people of working age who are out of work and living on benefits. Many of those are registered disabled; Britain has more long-term sick than any European country besides Poland.
The benefits system has become so generous that being “on welfare” is no longer a mark of even relative poverty. Households with incomes of up to £66,350 — which puts them in the richest fifth — can be entitled to welfare.

The Chancellor has repeatedly said that he wants to build a benefit system that is a “hand up” rather than a “handout”, encouraging people to move from welfare to work. The 143-page study says that he has comprehensively failed in this aim, with 80 per cent of benefits — £64 billion — paid without any strings attached.
Instead, Britain now has the deepest poverty trap in the Western world, with thousands of people stuck in low-paid and part-time work because any extra money that they earn by finding a better job or working longer hours would have to be handed over to the Treasury.
Just under 800,000 working parents lose more than 70p in every extra pound they earn, and nearly 400,000 lose more than 90p in the pound. About 34,000 people lose more than £1 for every £1 they earn.
The study says: “The combined effect of different means-tested benefits has been to create a system which actively dissuades millions from bettering their position. Incentives to work have weakened, not strengthened, since 1997.”
Mr Brown has said that he wants to ensure that “work pays” but the report says: “In short, for many, work barely pays. It makes them ever poorer.” The result was that poverty had barely declined, and that the deepest forms had increased. Nicholas Boys Smith, the report’s author and a former Conservative parliamentary candidate, said: “It may prevent the very worst hardship, but only at the cost of holding millions of people either in unemployment or in very low-paid work.”
Frank Field, the Labour MP, former Welfare Minister and former director of the Child Poverty Action Group, said: “It’s a good piece of work and it should be the beginning of the debate. We’ve had these ten incredibly favourable years for welfare reform, and the results are modest. Just doing more of the same is not going to work.”
George Osborne, Shadow Chancellor, said: “This detailed report is part of a growing consensus, on the Left and the Right, that Gordon Brown’s welfare reforms have undermined work incentives and increased the number in severe poverty. Gordon Brown’s greatest boast may become his greatest failure.”
A Treasury spokesman said: “Since 1997 the Government has lifted 700,000 children out of poverty, and employment is at record levels. Reforms of the tax and benefits system mean that families with children are on average £1,500 per year better off in real terms since 1997, and those in the poorest fifth are £3,400 per year better off.”
More than ten million families face paying a 40 per cent inheritance tax bill when their relatives die, according to research by Scottish Widows (Rosemary Bennett writes).
The threshold is £285,000 and 41 per cent of households would now have assets worth more than this, compared with 34 per cent last year.
Rising property prices are behind the sharp increase, the report said. House prices have risen by about 6.3 per cent this year.
The Conservatives and some Labour MPs argue that the thresholds need to rise sharply to take property prices into account. They say that many middle-income families are now liable for a tax that was designed to target the wealthy.


  1. November 28, 2006 at 5:31 pm


    Yes, but for how much longer will the safety net be there? Granted the economy is doing well right now, but the government can’t continue to spend at the current level. Particularly when a lot of that money is being given to people who have no plans to put anything back into the system.

  2. November 28, 2006 at 4:03 pm


    there’s lots and lots that is wrong with our system, but I’m sure glad that we have this safety net. That said it’s often hard for those in genuine need to access the help they need, thus people are “driven” to be dishonest.
    What really gets me is those who are rich enough to employ accountants to help them reduce….no avoid paying tax. Hey if everyone just paid their fair share perhaps we’d all have to pay less?

  3. November 28, 2006 at 12:36 am


    I would like to keep more of my paycheck instead of trying to claim it back through some doggy scheme and the only way to do that is to bring about real reform. More specifically, if the government wasn’t spending 79 billion on welfare benefits, we would all be able to keep more of our earnings.

  4. November 28, 2006 at 12:19 am


    Hi Ursula – I found you through John Smulo.
    I read that article today too. My first though was “what’s the problem with the well off getting the same benefits as the ‘poor’? After all, they’ve paid a bucketfull of money into the system. Shouldn’t they at least be allowed to get back the same as everyone else?”
    Not a particularly PC view, but as a higher-rate tax payer, the idea that my savings and assets have to be spent first before I could claim benefits if I *should* fall on hard times does not please me. It’s not as if I haven’t paid above average taxes already…..
    And FWIW I know what it’s like to be poor too – as in can’t afford to buy food of heating fuel poor.

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