Benefits debate failing ordinary families: new polling and CPAG letter to party leaders

The current debate about social security is failing ordinary families, according to a new campaign, ‘People Like Us’, being launched today by Child Poverty Action Group.

The campaign is supported by new polling suggesting the public strongly rejects the idea that the government understands the concerns of people on low and middle incomes.

The campaign is being launched with a letter to party leaders which asks them to reject misleading stereotypes of benefit claimants and instead focus on the needs of ordinary families on benefits. The letter invites party leaders to watch a short CPAG film of three benefit claimants talking about their own concerns.

Poll: Coalition doesn’t understand needs of people on low incomes

Polling conducted by YouGov for the charity shows that:

·         The overwhelming majority of the public (69 per cent) think the coalition government does not understand the concerns of people on low incomes;
·         Even 2010 Conservative (by 49 per cent to 37 per cent) and Lib Dem voters (80 per cent to 12 per cent) are more likely to believe the coalition government does not understand the concerns of people on low incomes than disagree;
·         A clear majority (57 per cent) of the public believe the government also does not understand the concerns of people on  middle incomes
·         In contrast, nearly three quarters (72 per cent) of the public feel the coalition government understands the needs of people on high incomes.

** Poll: Public lack confidence benefits system would help when needed**

The YouGov poll also shows the majority of the British public believe the benefits system would not provide them the support they would personally need if they needed help:

·         ‘If you lost your job’: 59 per cent say the social security system would not provide the support they would need if they lost their job, 23 per cent say it would;
·         ‘If you became disabled or ill’: 54 per cent say the system would not provide the help they would need, 31 per cent say it would;
·         ‘If you had a child/another child’: 37 per cent say the system would not provide the help they would need, 34 per cent say it would;
·         ‘If you became a carer’: 59 per cent say the system would not provide the help they would need, 22 per cent say it would.

CPAG open letter calls on party leaders to ensure benefits debate meets needs of ordinary families

The polling supports the launch of a new campaign ’People Like Us’ which is looking to ensure that the benefit system and the debate around it meets the needs of ordinary families.

The campaign is launched today with an open letter to the leaders of the three main political parties asking them to focus on the needs of ordinary families, many of whom sometimes receive benefits, rather than promoting inaccurate, offensive and misleading stereotypes.

The letter invites them to watch a new 5 minute film, ‘It Could Be You’, in which three parents talk about receiving different benefits:

Maureen, a parent receiving disability benefits.
Jack, a parent receiving out of work benefits (at the time of filming).
Paul, a working parent receiving tax credits.

Alison Garnham, Chief Executive of Child Poverty Action Group, said:

“The shocking truth about ’Benefits Britain’ is that people receiving benefits are just like us. Perfectly ordinary UK families rely on benefits and tax credits to provide an income to live on or to top up low pay, but our political debate lets them down.

“Politicians seem very happy to talk about fraud and reinforce dangerously misleading stereotypes about people not wanting to work but seem to go missing when it comes to doing something about the benefits system letting down ordinary people who have to rely on it when they lose their jobs, have a disability or become ill, or are in low paid work.

“The new campaign we’re launching today, ‘People Like Us’ is about the desperate need for a benefits debate that’s based on the needs of ordinary families. It’s only from a sensible debate, not politicians pushing ridiculous stereotypes, that we will actually get the policies that promote jobs, tackle low pay, promote affordable housing and childcare and help families with the added costs of children.”

In the film, Maureen said:

“If you’d asked me 20 years ago, did I think I was going to be impeded by having a disability so therefore not able to work full time, not able to support my child, that to me would have been horrific, I wanted to get back to work because apart from anything else I wanted to show an example to my daughter and the fact that I have a disability shouldn’t mean that I can’t work, but there are things that I cannot do.”

In the film, Jack said:

“But I don’t think you can just cut people’s lifelines and make big holes in people’s safety nets and expect that that will solve all the financial problems in this country so I think if you make these cuts now especially where children are concerned at the very beginnings of their lives, you’ll be picking up the bill for it a couple of decades down the line, because my son is 3 years old now, how they can justify making him a little bit colder, a little bit hungrier and his home a little bit less secure, I don’t know how they can justify it.”


Notes to Editors

·           All figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc.  Total sample size was 1,891 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 4th – 5th September 2013.  The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all GB adults (aged 18+). The polling results are available on request.

·         The open letter to party leaders and the CPAG film ‘It Could Be You’, funded by, are available to journalists on request.

·         From 12 September 2013, both the open letter and the film can be seen here:

·         CPAG is the leading charity campaigning for the abolition of child poverty in the UK and for a better deal for low-income families and children.

·         CPAG is the host organisation for the Campaign to End Child Poverty, which has over 150 member organisations and is campaigning for public and political commitment to ensure the goal of ending child poverty by 2020 is met.

For further information, or to request an interview with a spokesperson, please contact:

Imran Hussain
CPAG Press Office
Tel. 020 7812 5237 or 07816 909302