Reply To: ‘It’s just not worth it’

Mike Hughes

There is a world of difference between Supp. Ben. and now. The amounts paid were both linked directly to a widely recognised poverty line and actual need. The former was abolished and benefit rates now have zero relationship with need or the ability to live. Their only meaningful relationship is with what is politically acceptable. Amounts which are impossible to live on are very politically acceptable.

I have to say that I find the idea that benefit rates were ever set at a level which disincentivised work to be one of the truly pernicious concepts of the modern age which has permeated down the years. Politicians obsess on the idea but it’s an ideological tablet rather than something which has any relationship with fact. If the extra to be obtained by work is not sufficient to bring someone off benefits we are clear at this point it’s because wages are too low rather than benefits too high. The political approach has been to drive both down and there is only one outcome there.

As great untruths go it’s up there with the idea that sanctions work – literally zero evidence of that internationally going back 5 decades – or the benefit cap. You cannot incentivise people into work by setting benefit rates lower. Years of IS being lower than SB showed that and, weirdly, the same thing is happening with UC. If you want to incentivise people to work then you pay them sufficient benefits to keep them healthy. housed and out of debt; you provide proper training rather than the Royston Vasey model which persists and ever expands to the benefit of no-one bar the private sector, and, you pay salaries which value roles.