Recent surveys taken during the UK Covid pandemic suggest growing public support for the welfare system and for increasing social security benefits for those who rely on it.
Our online citizens’ jury conducted by the Fabian Society between November and December 2020 brought together a broadly representative group of 22 adults from across Great Britain.
The Fabian Society say social security recipients were slightly over-represented to ensure their voices were heard.
The jury supported an increase in the generosity of universal credit. As a minimum they wanted the temporary 2020 uplift of £20 a week to become a permanent feature of the system.
They also supported modest extra payments for families with children, carers, disabled people and parents caring for young children.
A significant minority of the jury wanted larger increases for these groups to take recipients towards the MIS, but this plan did not secure majority support because of its cost.
The jurors wanted the level of payments for under-25s levelled up to the amount paid to people aged 25 to 65.
They also wanted financial support for childcare reformed so that work pays in all circumstances. However, a clear majority opposed ending the two-child limit.
A much larger survey of adults in Great Britain revealed similar results. Exluding those who did not express a view (i.e ‘Don’t know’): 67 per cent wanted to keep the £20 per week temporary uplift; 63 per cent wanted to equalise payments between under-25s and 25 to 65 year-olds; and 52 per cent backed better support for childcare.
The Fabian Society’s report, ‘Going with the grain‘, concludes that when the findings of both surveys are put together it shows strong public support for increasing social security benefits for five groups: disabled people, young adults, lone parents in work, lone parents without work who are
caring for babies and toddlers, and carers of disabled people.
Commenting on the report’s findings, Jonathan Reynolds MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, said: “This report confirms that there is strong public support for a social security system in the UK that offers a decent safety net to all.
“The pandemic has shown Universal Credit to be inadequate, leaving too many people to fall through the gaps.
“These findings will make an important contribution to Labour’s plans for a replacement of Universal Credit which guarantees a proper standard of living and makes work pay.”