British Social Attitudes survey shows Tory propaganda fails to remove support for poor

The Tories claim their cuts are popular because people in Britain hate benefit “scroungers”. The latest British Social Attitudes survey (BSA) found a more contradictory picture.

The survey polled more than 3,000 people in Britain last year on topics including welfare, democracy, immigration, Scottish independence and “Britishness”.

Although it showed that support for benefit claimants has declined over time, high numbers still support the welfare state.

And the latest survey found that, “Public support for more spending on benefits seems to be rising”.

More people overall said that they actually wanted increased spending on benefits as opposed to those who backed cuts.

Some 36 percent agreed that the government should spend more on welfare benefits for the poor, even if it meant higher taxes.

That’s an increase on the 2011 figure of 28 percent, and more than the 32 percent who disagreed.

People backed more spending on benefits for all groups except unemployed people. Here nearly half wanted the benefit cut–but this is still lower than the 2008 figure.

At the same time, 44 percent said they didn’t think unemployment benefits were enough to live on.


When told what the actual benefit is this rose to 56 percent–indicating some misconceptions about what life on benefits is really like.

But wild stories in the press about claimants living it up in mansions haven’t cut with most people.

The survey described a “dramatic rise in press coverage of the benefits system since the start of the recession”. They are more and more likely to be described as “handouts”.

But the survey added, “Even today there is very little feeling that benefits provide a very generous standard of living.”

Just 6 percent agreed that an unemployed single woman would have “more than enough” to live on. The majority, 56 percent, said she would be “hard up” or “really poor”.

The BSA found a “sharp increase” in the numbers saying that poverty has gone up in Britain.

Nearly ­­two thirds agreed with this last year, compared to less than half in 2009. Only a minority said they were living comfortably on their current income.

Almost one in five said they were struggling. And nearly two thirds said there is “quite a lot” of real poverty in Britain today.

“It is crucial to stress that considerable support for the benefits system remains,” it concluded.

And most people think the government should make sure people have enough money to live on if they can’t work–despite politicians’ propaganda.

Reprinted with permission