Benefit Cap popular with public, but what impact is it having pre-implementation?

Two Ipsos MORI polls conducted for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) find that there is strong popular support for the Benefit Cap.

Two Ipsos MORI polls conducted for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) find that there is strong popular support for the Benefit Cap, and that many of those who were notified that they would be affected by the cap found work after receiving this notification.

The first survey, a national poll conducted online, found that the Benefit Cap receives wide public support, even when it is framed in different ways; nearly three quarters of the British public support it in principle (73%), with just 12% opposed while similar proportions support it at £26,000 (70% vs. 13%) and at the average amount which working households earn per year after tax’ (67% vs. 12%).

The strength of support for the Cap across these measures indicates a popular policy at a time when the benefits system in Britain is considered too generous (by 50%) rather than not generous enough (20%).

The second survey, a telephone poll among those who were notified they would be affected by the Benefit Cap within the last year and who subsequently found work found:

  • The vast majority of those surveyed are still in work: 87% say they are in either full-time or part-time employment or are self-employed.
  • While most had at least heard of the Benefit Cap changes (85%), there is uncertainty about whether or not they will be affected by the policy at the time of interview: many think they will not be affected (41%), many say they will (34%), while some say they do not know (24%).
  • The majority (57%) say they remember receiving written notification that their household would be affected. Of those who say they do not (43%), one quarter (25%) say they were aware they would be affected anyway. This means that almost one third (32%) of those affected did not remember receiving notification and were not aware that they were affected by the Benefit Cap before the interview.
  • Almost three in ten (29%) of those who remember receiving notification or were aware that they were affected say they looked for a job as a direct response to being notified or becoming aware of the Benefit Cap.
  • More than three in five (61%) of those in work and who remember receiving notification that they would be affected found their current job after receiving notification.
  • This figure increases to 72% of those who say they have been infrequently in the workplace during their working lives, that is those who say they have sometimes, rarely or never been in paid employment.

These findings show correlation and not causation, nonetheless those finding work after notification outnumber those who found work before it by nearly two to one (61% against 35%).

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Technical Note

Ipsos MORI interviewed a representative sample of 2,019 adults aged between 16 and 75 across Great Britain (online), and a targeted sample of 500 people who were notified they would be affected by the Benefit Cap within the last year and who subsequently found work (by telephone).

Fieldwork was conducted between 31 May and 5 June 2013. Data has been weighted to the known population profile for both surveys.

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