There's a fascinating table in today's FT, taken from the new study Towards a more Equal Society (ed. John Hills, Tom Sefton and Kitty Stewart), which I've reproduced below. It shows how people's attitudes have hardened towards welfare over the past couple of decades:
I suspect the recession has caused attitudes to harden even further. Sure, the welfare rolls will be added to; but for most people in work, struggling to make ends meet and facing the prospect of tax rises to pay off Brown's debt mountain, the idea of state handouts for unemployed people is likely to grate more and more. In turn, this could make welfare reform more politically viable than ever before - all the more reason for the Tories, and David Freud, to reframe their reform agenda for the downturn years.