Hardening public attitudes to those on welfare benefits


Welfare accounts for almost a third of all UK government spending, costing £201bn for the year 2011-2012.

Since taking power in May 2010 the coalition government has already reduced welfare spending by £18bn in the 2010 Spending Review and by £3.6bn in last year's Autumn Statement.

But as the government struggles to make the sums works for this summer's Spending Review, which will set the spending totals for 2015-16, the welfare budget is moving back to centre stage.

Ministers say the reductions in welfare spending are not only being driven by the need to save money, but that they are also responding to the fact that public attitudes towards welfare, and the people who depend on it, seem to have hardened.

When ministers talk about rewarding strivers and discouraging skivers - it strikes a chord.

Newsnight's Political Editor Allegra Stratton has been to Accrington to test attitudes there and meet some of those on the sharp end of any benefits changes.

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