What is this thing called welfare spending?

Here's a chart that illustrates something which is relevant both to welfare and public finance, two of this blog's pet subjects. I want to use it as a way of opening up the question: how much does 'welfare' for people of working age cost and how has this changed over time? We hear a lot of assertions about these issues from politicians and commentators. But what is 'welfare', and what is 'welfare spending'? These are not the same question.

Social values and tragic choices

If values guide choices, what guides choice when you have to decide between values as well as options? On one account, such a situation is 'tragic': there are better and worse ways to proceed, but none that don't involve leaving a legitimate claim unmet. I argue that this is a reasonable way of thinking about the situation the Labour party would face if it won the 2015 election.

It was easy! It was cheap! It was rubbish!

It seems everybody wants to carry out their own media content analysis on welfare these days. Unfortunately nobody seems to want to put in the work needed if you want to avoid coming to silly conclusions. Yesterday I wrote about exaggerated claims circulating on the left-wing twittersphere about an implausible rise in the use of the word 'scrounger' http://lartsocial.org/press . Today, the right has hit back with an even sillier claim: the Guardian and Independent are the titles that stigmatise benefit claimants most.

Myths and counter-myths

I'm not sure where this chart https://twitter.com/GavinEdwards77/status/329203347208949760/photo/1 which has been doing the rounds on twitter originates from, but it seems to have quickly acquired mythological status. It appears to show the number of times the word(s) 'scrounger(s)' appeared in the UK press from 1994 to the present, with a huge unprecedented rise coinciding with the arrival of the coalition in power.

History matters: working age and child poverty 1961-2010/11

Over at Joseph Rowntree Foundation's #antipoverty communications debate, people have been talking about the need to depoliticise public discussion of poverty. Whatever your views on whether that's possible or desirable, depoliticisation surely shouldn't come at the cost of de-historicisation. Hence this chart, which shows the timing of the rise in poverty for working age adults and children.

Poverty in the UK has a history: some- not all- of that history is political. Let's not pretend otherwise.

IDS is spinning against his own department

From the BBC news website: 'The number of households that will be affected by a new £500 a week benefit cap has fallen by over a quarter, the Department for Work and Pensions says.The government initially estimated that 56,000 households would see their benefits reduced by the policy, losing on average around £93 per week.It now expects 40,000 households to be affected.
The department said the change came as more people sought help to get into work.'

'The biggest administrative fiasco in the history of the welfare state'

In which I come a poor second to Jules Birch http://www.insidehousing.co.uk/taking-the-strain/6526460.blog in drawing out the parallels between the problems with the1983 housing benefit changes as recounted by Nicholas Timmins and the current worries about Universal Credit.

Did claims for DLA increase in the run-up to PIP?

In an article in yesterday's Evening Standard Iain Duncan Smith is quoted as saying that there has been an increase in DLA claims because people were trying to qualify for the benefit before its replacement by the new Personal Independence Payment introduced this week. "We've seen a rise in the run-up to PIP. And you know why? They know PIP has a health check. They want to get in early, get ahead of it.

That obscure object of welfare reform

Reflections on a week of exceptionally dismal welfare coverage, followed by some historical cross-national analysis of trends in working age welfare spending, Caveat lector: this analysis is provisional. Instructions for how to replicate it are in the text.

The language that we used

It's been widely noted that Ed Miliband made a point of using the words 'social security' in his major speech today http://labourlist.org/2013/06/full-text-ed-miliband-speech-a-one-nation-.... Richard Exell comments: ...'it was nice to hear the term “social security” being rehabilitated by a leading politician.