View more on these topics

Support for state pension spending grows as welfare attitudes harden


Public support for state pension spending has grown significantly in the last 30 years as attitudes towards other welfare spending has hardened.

The British Social Attitudes survey, published today, shows 72 per cent of those surveyed said pensions are in their top two priorities for benefits, compared to 64 per cent in 1983.

Disability benefits enjoyed the next highest support with 58 per cent saying it is in their top two priorities for welfare spending, the same level as 1983.

The study shows support for unemployed benefits has fallen significantly from 32 per cent in 1983 to just 12 per cent in 2012.

It shows 81 per cent believe large numbers of people falsely claim benefits, while 35 per cent of respondents agree many people on social security don’t deserve help.

This compares to 67 per cent and 32 per cent respectively in 1987 when the question was first asked by pollsters.

Labour and the Conservatives have both pledged to cap overall welfare spending but while the Tories have explicitly excluded pensions from the cap, Labour has suggested they may be included.

Labour and the Liberal Democrats also want to scrap pensioner benefits, such as the winter fuel allowance, for higher rate taxpayers but the Conservatives have promised to keep them for this parliament.

The BSA report states: “In line with previous years, retirement pensions continue to be the highest priority for extra spending on benefits, selected by more than seven in ten, followed by benefits for disabled people – selected by around six in ten.

“Both of these have historically been high public priorities compared with benefits for other groups, although support for retirement pensions is now somewhat higher than it was in 1983 and for much of the subsequent decade.”

Trust in banks has collapsed after the financial crisis and a string of scandals with just 19 per cent believing they are well run, compared to 92 per cent in 1983.

Trust in banks remains unchanged since 2009 despite the recent Libor rigging and interest rate swap misselling scandals.


News and expert analysis straight to your inbox

Sign up


There are 3 comments at the moment, we would love to hear your opinion too.

  1. Why do governments class state pensions as Benefits when they have been paid for over the years by deductions from our wages. Nobody is giving me a benefit, I’ve paid for my pension.

  2. Probably because they trust the state pension more than private pensions. I remember when standard pension sales spiel was ‘there won’t be a state pension when you retire’. Ja Ja, At least the state pension is still there, unlike some pension companies. Also SIPPS have been vastly mis-sold. There are more scandals to come.

  3. ‘81% of people believe large numbers of people falsely claim benefits’

    The actual proportion of benefits fraudulently claimed is just 0.7% of the total welfare budget.

    Which just shows how effective Ian Duncan Smith’s self serving propaganda has been…

Leave a comment