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Future State of Welfare

Vast majority support benefits system - but want the system to be stricter

Published:27 October 2011
Fieldwork:18 September 2011
Keywords:Benefits, welfare state
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Vast majority support benefits system - but want the system to be stricter

An Ipsos MORI poll conducted for The Future State of Welfare with John Humphrys (9.00 pm, BBC Two, Thursday 27 October 2011) finds that an overwhelming majority of people in Britain say there must be a benefits safety net - but many do not think that the system works properly and want to see  more conditions attached to payments

  • 92% agree that we must have a benefits system that provides a safety net for everyone who needs it. Only 4% disagree.

However, many doubt whether the UK benefits system works effectively.

  • 63% think it does not (23% think it does).
  • 72% say  that politicians should do more to cut the benefits bill (15% think they should not).
  • 76% say that some groups of people should have their benefits cut (9% are against this idea).


Respondents were asked about specific benefits.

  • 84% want to see stricter testing for incapacity benefits (10% do not).
  • 78% think job seekers should lose some of their benefits if they refuse work they are capable of doing (16% do not).
  • 62% want to see benefits capped for people who have 'too many children' (27% do  not).
  • 57% thought those on housing benefit who live in expensive areas should be forced to move (29% do not).


Those who agreed that there are groups of people who should have their benefits cut were asked which one, if any, of the following groups should be the highest priority to have their benefits cut:

  • Immigrants - 35%
  • People claiming over £400 a week in housing benefit - 27%
  • The long-term unemployed - 25%
  • People on incapacity benefits - 4%
  • Lone parents - 2%
  • Other - 1%
  • None - 3%
  • Don't know - 4%

Base: 768 British adults aged 18+ who  agree: “that there are some groups of people who claim benefits who should have their benefits cut”. 16-18th September 2011.

Ben Page, Chief Executive of Ipsos MORI said:

“While the public is strongly in favour of ensuring that we have a working benefits system to help those in need, they do feel that it needs to be stricter in terms of eligibility criteria.  The devil of course, is in the detail, but public sentiment is clear – in particular they are worried about “free riders” – people who they think are able to help themselves but choose to rely on the state”

The Future State of Welfare with John Humphrys (9.00 pm, BBC Two, Thursday 27 October 2011).

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 1,003 adults aged 18+ across Great Britain. Interviews were conducted by telephone 16-18th September 2011.  Data are weighted to match the profile of the population.

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