Inspired by Ben’s recent batch of posts on the benefits system, I wanted to spend some time talking a bit more about how people on benefits are perceived, and how and why that might have changed over time.

In his detailed discussion of conditionality and deservingness, Ben drew attention to the pretty steep decline in people’s support for unemployment benefits. His graph of data from the British Social Attitudes survey (reproduced below) show that, since the mid-90’s, the proportion of people agreeing that “Unemployment benefits are too high and discourage work” has gone from around 40% to almost 60%. I’m interested in why that should be. What has been going on over the last 15 years or so to result in so dramatic a drop in support for these benefits?

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