Benefits aren’t meant to be about work

The Scottish Parliament has been dissolved before elections, and today I went to a Holyrood hustings event considering issues on ‘welfare and social justice’.  The politicians talked almost entirely about work and employment, but the questions from the audience were about Pension Credit, carers and disability, Child Benefit and fuel poverty.   More than half of social security goes on older people.  A good half of what’s left is paid regardless of whether or not people work.  Most of the rest is for people who aren’t actually expected to work (the principal criterion for Employment and Support Allowance).  And when we look at the last eighth, the bit that is concerned with work, the vast majority of those people return to work under their own steam.   The continual focus on getting people into work is a massive distortion of the main priorities and purpose of the benefits system.

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