Fraser Nelson Fraser Nelson

Here’s why so many people in this country are on welfare

Why is it Left wing to allow millions to live on benefits, and let children get each other pregnant? Tom Harris asks this question in an excellent article in the Mail on Sunday today. He’s right to get angry about a situation that means one in five UK children are brought up in workless households, the highest in the EU. But the reason is not because our women are lazier than the French and Italians. In my News of the World column today I ask: why do so many choose welfare dependency as a lifestyle? Well, it is because we pay them to.

To understand why Britain has such welfare dependency, look at the incentives. The horrible truth is that a girl leaving a British school with poor qualifications has a choice of career: work or pregnancy. As welfare is split up (council tax relief, tax credits, etc) no one in government has an overview of the real choices facing our school leavers. But I asked Iain Duncan Smith’s Centre for Social Justice to put together the figures for me – before housing costs, so as to compare them to the going rate for jobs. The weekly net income of a benefits-dependent parent is as follows:

Lone parent, one child: £207 a week Two children: £262 a week Three children: £324 a week Four children: £377 a week Five children: £441 a week.

Now compare this with work. The ONS recently published what women are paid for various occupations. It shows that a woman with two kids (and a £262 net weekly income) does better than a waiter (£113/week) a cashier (£128) shelf filler (£155) library assistant (£170) hairdresser (£188) child-minder (£240) and street trader (£246). 

Already a subscriber? Log in

Keep reading with a free trial

Subscribe and get your first month of online and app access for free. After that it’s just £1 a week.

There’s no commitment, you can cancel any time.


Unlock more articles



Don't miss out

Join the conversation with other Spectator readers. Subscribe to leave a comment.

Already a subscriber? Log in