The recess provided the opportunity to catch up with some reading. I thought I’d pass on the main conclusions from a recent Joseph Rowntree Foundation report because it’s highly relevant to the Welfare Benefits Uprating Bill, which will be debated in the Commons tomorrow. That Bill will extend the real cut in the value of most social security benefits and tax credits beyond the forthcoming tax year till 2016, as announced by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement.
As I remarked in my last blog the assumption behind this Bill appears to be that people out of work are a load of ‘skivers’ and ‘scroungers’ happy to live off benefits long-term as they inhabit a culture of welfare dependency or worklessness. The researchers did all they could to find such people. This is what they report: ‘We found no evidence to support the idea that participants were part of a culture of worklessness, and none for the idea of intergenerational cultures of worklessness. Despite their long-term worklessness, parents actively strove for better for their children and often assisted them in searching for jobs…Running directly counter to theories of intergenerational cultures of worklessness, the research found that conventional mainstream attitudes to and values about work were widespread in both the middle and younger generations’.
They conclude ‘politicians and policy-makers should abandon the idea of intergenerational cultures of worklessness’. Unfortunately, for all the talk of evidence-based policy, politicians and policy-makers tend to ignore evidence such as this because it does not tally with their own view of a world divided into out-of-work ‘skivers’ and in-work ‘strivers’.