Welfare ‘Dependency’: Hard Right Keeps Up the Pressure to attack the less Well Off.
Centre for Policy Studies Motto.
The Centre for Policy Studies has a thing about ‘welfare dependency’.
The influential right-wing think tank – which most people will not have heard of – want people to stand on their “own two feet”.
Never mind that the Centre itself is headed by Baron Maurice Saatchi a man who made his money as a parasite in the ‘advertising industry’ , and is, well, you know, a ‘Lord’ in said House of, no doubt a position won by scrubbing floors and hewing coal.
We notice this on its funding (Who Funds you?)
Discloses annual income Yes: £1,131,391 y/e 30/9/14 Displays funding information on own website No Names organisational funders No Declares amounts given by organisational funders No Names individual funders No Declares amounts given by individual funders No
We strongly doubt if this level of detail would satisfy those supervising our Job Search: Transparency rating D.
Their latest wheeze is to publish a report, ‘The Independence Revolution Must Go On‘, which says this:
- Children growing up in workless households have, on average, poorer key stage 1 attainments, lower cognitive ability and are more likely to be NEET.
- New Government must continue incentivising work by reducing marginal tax rates and carefully evaluating the National Living Wage policy.
Anybody using the ‘verb’ ‘incentivising’ deserves a week-long course for those with language difficulties.
Boiled down what the Centre – remember a group with real influence on government policy – is suggesting is more benefit caps, more dependency on dodgy employers and charity and fewer rights at work and on benefits.
This article tackles the core assumption of the Centre: that redistribution of wealth from the rich, and the better off, to the less well off, and using benefits to help people stand on their own two feet, is wrong.
- The Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) has issued an Economic Bulletin ‘The Independence Revolution Must Go On’, based on figures from a recent Office for National Statistics publication ‘The effects of taxes and benefits on household income’.
- The ONS figures show that “over half of households received more in benefits (including benefits in kind) than they paid in taxes for the year 2014/15…It is estimated that 50.8 per cent of households are net dependents”. The closer one looks at these figures, however, the more questions arise about how we define dependency, who actually benefits from benefits, and how we think about the redistribution of wealth.
- The CPS views the ONS figures largely in terms of ‘welfare dependency’, concluding that, “The Government’s record in reducing dependency on the State is strong, but there is plenty more to do.’ It even takes the opportunity to mention that “children growing up in workless households …have, on average, lower cognitive ability.” saying that, “This highlights the social cost of welfare dependency and need to reduce welfare dependency in society.” Even ‘the so-called ‘intergenerational transmission’ of worklessness’ gets a mention.
- But wait a minute – as the CPS itself has just pointed out, over half of UK households are classed as ‘dependent’ because they are deemed to receive more from the state than they pay in. ‘Worklessness’ is a factor in only a fraction of those households. There is much more going on here.
- If we view the same ONS data from a different perspective, it is possible to draw very different conclusions, and to raise questions about how and why people are considered ‘dependent’ on the state. (The data used by the ONS can be found in Table 2 here )
It’s a long article but well worth reading: more here.
We can only endorse Meaden’s conclusion:
Reducing ‘dependency’ via welfare reform threatens this redistribution and may tip people at the bottom of the income scale into deeper poverty. As the ONS says in another publication, “Most recently, the average cash benefit rate has fallen which, along with decreasing progressivity, means that the overall redistributive impact of cash benefits has been reduced.”
More welfare reform, which will no doubt reduce this redistributive impact even further, seems destined to produce not independence, but increasing poverty and destitution.