Debates about welfare policy are invariably controversial, going right to the heart of what kind of society we want to be. As part of our 50th anniversary celebrations, we held an event on 27 February 2019 where IFS Deputy Director Robert Joyce set out the trade-offs that make this such an important and difficult area, how and why our approach has changed so radically over time, and how evidence can help us design policy better.
You can watch the full event below, and download Robert's slides here.
"Paying benefits to people of working age is a big part of what the government does. In fact, it spends more on these benefits than it does on education or national defence and policing. They account for roughly £1 in every £8 the government spends, or about £100bn a year. This is on top of the £120bn that is spent on benefits for pensioners. A look at the size of the bill and who gets these benefits reveals big changes over time."
Robert Joyce laid out five charts that reveal how the benefits bill has changed over time in an article for the BBC.
"Universal credit was meant to lift people out of poverty. But in reality it’s just been fiddling at the edges of the changes we need."
Paul Johnson wrote an opinion piece for the Guardian about Universal Credit and the challenges facing the welfare system.
"Headlines about house prices, rent levels, the collapse in rates of owner-occupation among the younger generation and, indeed growing homelessness abound. One thing that, unaccountably, gets rather less coverage is housing benefit — the benefit paid to those on low incomes to help to cover the costs of rent."
Paul Johnson wrote about the specific issue of housing benefit in his regular Times article.