Express: paying pensions and child benefit is “madness”

Today’s front-page lead on the Daily Express – LABOUR’S £186BN BENEFITS MADNESS – revealed that in 2009/10 spending on benefits would amount to a quarter of all State spending. The “madness” to which the Express refers is, presumably, their belief that the £186 billion, or the vast majority of it, is being squandered; when analysed, however, the figures in the Centre for Policy Studies report reveal a somewhat different picture.

£68.6 billion is to be spent on pensions – 37 per cent of the total. Only last year the Express called for a 45 per cent hike in the State pension, which, if carried through, would have led to a total spend on pensions of almost £100 billion.

Other principal areas of benefit spending include Child Tax Credits (£15.7bn), Child Benefit (£11.8bn) and Housing Benefit (£19.6bn), with only £21.7 billion being spent on Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Employment and Support Allowance.

Sources: Benefit Simplification (Centre for Policy Studies), 2009 Budget Red Book (HM Treasury) and Benefit Expenditure Tables, Medium Term Forecast, June 2009 (Department for Work and Pensions)

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