News of the widely-condemned benefit cap that was applied to four London boroughs on Monday has already begun motivating Britons back into employment.
The Department for Work and Pensions revealed that 8,000 claimants expected to be affected by this cap have already found new employment in recent months, with the number of those seeking benefits decreasing by an equal 8,000. These figures are attributed to notifications circulated last May by Jobcentre Plus to an estimated 82,000 claimants believed to be subject to the benefit cap’s implementation.
An annual British Social Attitudes report has revealed a marked change in social approval of Britain’s welfare spending. In 1991, 26% of Britons surveyed felt that people would stand on their own two feet if benefits were of decreased generosity. This percentage rose to 54% last year. The survey also found that while 88% believed that the government should be responsible for ensuring that the unemployed had enough to live on in 2001, this percentage reduced to 59% last year.
Employment Minister Mark Hoban emphasised the need for a welfare system that is “fair, affordable and encourages people into work”, adding “it is only fair that those in work and those out of work face the same choices”.
The cap aims to also serve as a counter to the of the welfare system being taken advantage. Haringey Council recently prosecuted a 38 year old woman for illegally claiming £65,757 in housing benefit, council tax benefit and income support over the period of two years. “We have a very clear message,” Work and Pensions Secretary Ian Duncan Smith stated last week. “We aim to provide support to those who need it.”
Claimants in Haringey, Enfield, Croydon and Bromley are now entitled to a maximum of £500 a week, as part of measures to ensure that individuals earn more in employment than through welfare. The Work and Pensions Secretary has assured that the cap provides “a strong incentive for people to move into work” setting “a clear limit” on how much the state spends on future claims.
How might other incentives apart from financial, encourage more people to work instead of relying on the claimant system?