Chapter summary: Welfare
Support for government welfare reform
This chapter examines support for two key elements of government welfare reform: reducing
expenditure on welfare; and limiting the circumstances in which particular benefits can
The author also examines how support for these reforms have changed since there implementation began in 2010.
It assesses how attitudes vary and whether these are primarily influenced by characteristics linked to ‘ideology’ or ‘self-interest’.
Little support for reducing spending for most groups
There is minimal support for reducing welfare spending, except in relation to the unemployed and low income working couples without children.
- 45% would like to see less government spending on benefits for unemployed people. The equivalent figure for retired people is 7%.
- 31% disagree that “the government should spend more money on welfare benefits for
- 61% think a working-age couple without children who are struggling to make ends
meet should look after themselves, rather than the government topping up their wages.
More support for limiting circumstances in which benefits
can be received
A majority support limiting the circumstances in which unemployment benefit can be
received, although there is less support for this approach in relation to housing benefit.
- 60% think that the duration of unemployment benefit should be limited.
- 40% think that the money a working-age couple receive from the government to help
them pay their rent should be reduced if they have more bedrooms than the government thinks they need.
Attitudes vary by ideology and self-interest
Support for reform is strongly influenced by measures of ideology, such as political party identification. Measures of self-interest, such as age, also have a role to play.
The importance of different characteristics varies in relation to different elements of reform and benefit types.
- 48% of those aged 18-24 think the money a couple receives to help them
pay their rent should be reduced, if they have more bedrooms that
the government thinks they need, compared with 31% of those aged 75+.
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