Fraser Nelson

Britain’s welfare families

Britain's welfare families
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We have a new facts and figures column in the magazine, Barometer, and I thought CoffeeHousers might like a preview of one of the data series we have dug up for tomorrow’s edition. George Osborne has this week pledged that, from 2013, no family on benefits should receive more than the average family does through work. But how many will it affect? Those living in expensive areas, for example, but also those with large families. CoffeeHousers may remember Karen Matthews, who lived on benefits with seven children. She was demonised, understandably, but I was left thinking: we paid her to do that. The more kids she has, the more money she received – so shouldn’t the system take some of the blame? If a lone parent with two kids has more disposable income than a hairdresser, is it a surprise that so many young women choose to start a family? And how many just keep going, as our system pays them to?

I put in a data request for the number of people who are living on various out-of-work benefits, broken down by the number of dependent kids. The result is below.

So there are 280 people on incapacity benefit – ie, deemed unable to work – who have eight or more child dependents. Little wonder that Britain is Europe’s capital for children living in workless households. I’ve never seen this as a problem of feckless British people, more a deeply dysfunctional welfare system that is paying people to follow this path. Something is deeply wrong with this system, and reform can’t come soon enough.