A survey of 1,647 respondents in the UK found that more than half adults wanted higher benefits for disabled people, carers and lone parents.
A majority of the public would support an increase in benefits payments, a new study has revealed. On Thursday the Fabian Society published Going with the grain, which takes an in-depth look at public attitudes to social security following the pandemic.
Based on a citizens’ jury and national poll, the research showed a groundswell of support for increased benefits for disabled people, carers, young people 18 to 24 and parents working or looking after young children.
A survey of 1,647 respondents in the UK found that more than half adults wanted higher benefits in seven illustrative cases covering disabled people, carers and lone parents.
When it comes to people not at work, excluding those who replied with ‘I don’t know’, 77% support increased benefits for severely disabled people and 76% for their carers. 58% backed increased support for a single parent caring for a baby.
For working people, 71% support increased benefits for disabled people only able to work part-time and 56% for disabled or sick people who might be able to work in one or two years’ time. In terms of support for working parents, 68% want increased benefits for single parents of preschool children working part-time and 65% for single parents of two earning the national living wage.
Of those polled 65% were in favour of equalising universal credits for the under 25s, who currently get £16 less per week, with older adults.
The groups that respondents would like to see receive higher payments amount to over 4.6million families or 74% of UC recipients if the new benefit was rolled-out in full.
The citizens’ jury consisting of 22 randomly selected people across the country reached similar conclusions. They supported a package of social security improvements that would cut child poverty by a third. Such a package would cost £10bn more than the government’s current temporary pandemic measures and take the share of national income spent on benefits back to 2014 levels.
The jurors further recommended support for priority groups, including the government covering childcare for low-income families so that it always pays to work.
Both the jurors and survey respondents expressed support for the temporary £20 UC uplift to be made permanent.
The aim of the report is to establish a consensus for increased benefits in a way that goes with the grain of public opinion. In addition it wants to present a detailed, costed policy plan which reflects people’s priorities. The research shows that the public prioritises higher payments for groups including young adults struggling during the pandemic and parents of young children.
The report by general secretary of the Fabian society Andrew Harrop and researcher Josh Abbey highlights that just before the pandemic, 42% of children and 30% of working adults were living under the minimum socially acceptable standard.
The authors wrote: “A strong social security system is essential to prevent hardship and achieve shared prosperity in Britain. The growth of in-work poverty at a time when the minimum wage has been rising is proof that reforms to markets cannot deliver alone.”
According to the report, implementing the jury’s recommendations would cost £17bn and lead to reduction of poverty for 2.6m adults and 1.3m children.
Sophia Dourou is a freelance journalist