An anti-benefits mindset has established itself in Britain over the past five years of austerity. Politician speeches, tv shows and national newspapers have often created and reinforced biased ideas around benefits and benefits claimants and those ideas are not always based on the facts.
A quick research and we were able to debunk 3 of the most common misconceptions about benefits:
1. Benefit cheats take up a lot of the welfare budget
Over the past 5 years, more than 85% of benefit fraud allegations made by the public proved to be false. The truth, as government’s statistics show, is that only 0.7% of benefits expenditure account for fraud.
In 2013/14, £1.2bn out of the £164bn benefits expenditure accounted for fraud, meanwhile, government losses through tax avoidance reached £5bn.
More so, the Department for Work and Pensions declared the total amount unclaimed by people who would be entitled to benefits is likely to be between £11.6bn and £13.23bn a year, ten times the amount lost due to fraud.
2. Benefits encourage unemployment
Now, to bust this myth there are many things to be considered, starting with a research by the Centre for Labour and Social Studies (CLASS) showing a single person working 30 hours per week would earn £2,270 more every year than if they were on unemployment benefits, and a single parent working the same hours would be £4,605 better off every year than on unemployment benefits.
But there’s more. According to data from the Office for National Statistics, 40.3% of people receiving benefits are retired and 18% of the total welfare bill goes to people who are in work but don’t earn enough. Only 2% of total benefits spending goes to unemployment benefits.
3. Claimants are sitting at home living on benefits for years
CLASS reports that less than half of of Jobseeker’s allowance claimants claim for more than 13 weeks, and only 10% of them claim for more than a year. The average claim duration is longer for incapacity benefits, but even then 50% of claimants claimed for 2 years or less.