U.K. - One third of homes dependent on benefits

I had no idea that this was he case in the U.K. Can anyone here offer any insight into how this has developed?
I really don’t want this to turn into a U.K. vs USA, or anywhere else for that matter, p*ssing contest. I was really surprised to read this.

[quote]One third of homes dependent on benefits
By Brendan Carlin, Political Correspondent
Last Updated: 10:42am GMT 12/02/2007

One in three households across Britain is now dependent on the state for at least half its income, it emerged today.

Official government figures showed that more than seven million households are getting most of their income from government handouts.

The figures also reveal the huge gulf in welfare dependency between single parent and two-parent households.

The report is scathing about how New Labour welfare policy has been designed to “create beholden voters rather than independent people”.

In many single-parent homes with two children, the proportion of families that would be financially crippled without state support is now as high as 61 per cent. That compares with just nine per cent in a two-parent home.

The figures, prepared by the Department for Work and Pensions but cited today in a new report from the Civitas think-tank, paint a stark picture of how Britain’s dependency culture has grown over the last few decades.

Gordon Brown has been repeatedly attacked for building up a society heavily reliant on tax credits and other state aid. The Chancellor’s tax credits scheme was “only the most prominent example of welfare policies intended to create a grateful electorate rather than free-thinking citizens”, the report says.

But it suggests that David Cameron’s Conservatives are worried about seeming uncaring, and therefore not ready to take drastic action and copy American-style policies that have produced huge drops in benefit claims in the United States. The claim was denied by a spokesman for the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, who said the Tories were developing policies to reduce the size of Mr Brown’s state.

According to David Green from Civitas, the author of the report, data on the real scale of state dependency have only been collected for the last five years or so. But he estimated that the proportion of households dependent on the state for at least 50 per cent of income had been probably as low as five per cent in the 1960s.

It rose during the 1970s and 1980s, especially because of soaring unemployment under the Thatcher government.

His report in the current issue of Civitas Review makes the wider point that conventional politics is no longer providing the answers to Britain’s problems. The Blair years had “tested to destruction” the notion that big spending on health, education and welfare was the answer.

There was a widespread perception that high crime, failing schools, unsustainable immigration and the low quality of the NHS were “not being properly confronted by our political leaders”.

Labour might embrace the “terminology of markets”, such as choice competition, but “political discussion of public services like health and education still seems stranded halfway between the age of collectivism and a more consumer-friendly alternative”.

But Mr Green went on: “Even Conservatives who are concerned about the failure of public sector monopolies in health and education are slow to criticise the Blair Government’s approach”.

That was because “they know that calling for a reduced role for the state in health and education is to invite being caricatured as uncaring”. Mr Green urged the Tories not to accept the modern view that individual action and liberty were the same as “selfish individualism”.

A government spokesman last night defended the scale of state help, saying: “It is thanks to our system of tax credits and the New Deal that we have two million more people in work than in 1997. We have also raised hundreds of thousands of children out of poverty.”

The analysis of benefit dependency, based on the latest DWP statistics, will strike a chord with a report from the Reform think-tank.

Last year it warned that the Government had created a benefits regime that “actively dissuades millions from bettering their position”.

Frank Field, the Labour former welfare minister, has also called for the system to be reformed “in a way which turned the world upside down”.

Welfare should be “a floor on which people built and not a ceiling which made it impossible for them to pass through”, Mr Field said. Last night David Laws, the Liberal Democrat’s welfare spokesman, also accused the Chancellor of helping to bolster the dependency culture.

The shadow chancellor Mr Osborne said: "Under Gordon Brown the role of the state has multiplied and government has got bigger and bigger.

"This is exactly the opposite of what a competitive enterprise economy needs.

“As taxes rise to pay for this I think it is legitimate to ask should people earning over £50,000 be able to claim means tested benefits like tax credits?”

Some interesting comments on the article.

Hmm, difficult. But I recall you said you spent time in Spain (?) So I presume you have some understanding of state socialism? As in the case in Australia, it is usually redder than the “real thing.”

I was shocked as a Chinese medicine intern in the Red Cross Hospital in Hangzhou in 1992 to see a 12 year old kid refused treatment because his parents had no money or insurance. He is most certainly dead mow. In Australia he would have been treated and certaonly alive.

That socialism has its appeal on other levels.



But it suggests that David Cameron’s Conservatives are worried about seeming uncaring, and therefore not ready to take drastic action and copy American-style policies that have produced huge drops in benefit claims in the United States [/quote]

I am not a huge fan of David Cameron. He seems to be returning the Tories to “Butskillism” and to the boring, dull centre of the political spectrum. :unamused: The problem for the Tories is that New Labour is firmly entrenched there.

Give me the old days of UK politics when there were erudite far right-wing (Enoch Powell) and far left-wing politicians (Tony Benn) not these boring pudknockers.

Bump for input on the article

But hey … economy is booming … there is enough tax money available to pay for it …

From a personal standpoint, I have a certain amount of empathy for people that have somehow gotten stuck depending on the government for income. I’m not from a wealthy family (at least by American standards) but my family has always had a certain amount of pride in making their own living. Perhaps Brits see things differently, but I would find it both terrifying and demoralizing to be that dependent on the whims of the government.

Learning about the dole at a tender age was the best thing that could have happened to me.

If it hadn’t been for Andy Capp I might have been back home still doing some real work like all the other idiots. :slight_smile:

As a Brit who has never been on the dole, or taken any kind of benefits from the UK government I take exception to the concept that Brits are any different to any other society. The way that the system is set up now makes it very difficult for people who get into dificult (through redundancy etc) to get off of benefits. In addition the massive influx of people from new EU countries is causing major problems as they know that we have a generous system and are abusing it.

Having defended it so staunchly above I will say that I have a problem with the attitude of many Brits which seems to say that their employer (or the state) owes them certain numbers of sick days, early finishes, “perks” like office stationary etc. Between the government and the employees I don’t know how anyone stays in business in the UK.

Anyway, WTF I left and don’t pay taxes so they can do what they like as far as I am concerned!

A response, from Wales, using this as an opportunity to put the blame on Margaret Thatcher…not too sure it will stick.

[quote]Thatcher era created culture of benefit dependency, says study
Feb 13 2007, Darren Devine, Western Mail

THE legacy of unemployment during the Thatcher era has left Britain overly dependent on benefits, a right-leaning think tank warned yesterday.

Civitas says that neither Labour nor the Conservatives have dealt with the problem since the height of unemployment in the 1980s.

One in three households across Britain depends on state benefits for at least half its income, according to the report.

Civitas says the figure is far higher for single-parent homes, with 61% relying on state support compared with 9% of two-parent households.

The report, in the current issue of Civitas Review, states that the level of households dependent on benefits was as low as 5% in the 1960s but rose during the 1970s and 1980s, particularly because of the mass unemployment of the Thatcher era.

But it claims that the level of welfare dependency has not been brought down in the current era of higher employment under Tony Blair’s administration.

Basing its analysis on figures obtained from the Department for Work and Pensions, the report claims that Labour’s tax credit scheme has been “only the most prominent example of welfare policies intended to create a grateful electorate rather than free-thinking citizens”.

And Civitas director David Green, the author of yesterday’s report, accuses Conservative leader David Cameron of “chickening out” of reversing the trend of welfare dependency for fear of being branded uncaring.

UK unemployment reached an all-time high in the spring of 1984 when the claimant count in Wales rose to 156,600 or 12.3% of the workforce. By comparison the count now stands at 42,900 or 3.1%.

But leader of the Welsh Conservatives Nick Bourne called the Civitas research “deeply worrying”. He said the relatively low unemployment figures seen during Mr Blair’s period in office have masked the true rate of economic inactivity.

“There are many people on incapacity benefit and I would like to get more of them into work,” he said. “We feel the true rate is higher than the headline figure. These figures are deeply worrying and don’t bear any resemblance to the figures we are used to seeing.”

But Mr Bourne added that it is important to provide adequate childcare facilities and flexible employment opportunities for single parents keen to get back into work.

“I’m sure many single parents want to work and cannot because they’ve not got access to childcare facilities. We need more flexible working patterns and access to childcare facilities for those who want to work.”

A spokesperson for Welsh Labour said an additional 130,000 people in Wales have found jobs during Mr Blair’s three terms in office since 1997.

Civitas’s calculation for the level of benefits being claimed includes working families tax credit, but Labour argues this has a positive impact on the economy by encouraging families back to work.

The spokesperson said, “Current employment figures show we have tackled [households dependent on benefits]. Labour is proud to have introduced working families tax credits because they’ve helped parents back into work. So to claim there is a greater dependency on benefits is ludicrous.”

Labour AM for the Vale of Clwyd Ann Jones said, “What we’re left with now is a hard core of people and for some of these, such as those who are ill, work won’t be appropriate. But there are others who don’t have the confidence to get back into work or who have never known any different and for whom work would represent a huge cultural change. If there is a reason why you can’t work then fine, but if not there are support programmes to help people find a job.”

She added, “It’s difficult for lone parents to balance work and child care. If you look at the Assembly’s childcare policies we are helping them with breakfast clubs and after-school clubs. They help parents with their working commitments.”
IC Wales[/quote]
Wales is quite confusing to me.