Banbury Constituency Labour Party

Good Times, Bad Times: The Welfare Myth of Them and Us – a recently published book by John Mills

Good Times, Bad TimesIn Good Times, Bad Times, John Mills explodes the myths perpetrated by the Tory government and their media allies, and explains how the welfare state is a resource for the vast majority, rather than the preserve of a demonised group of ‘benefit scroungers’.

He compares a typical ‘poorer’ family with a wealthy one, and his research and number crunching demonstrates that the wealthy family benefits as much if not more from the state.

His typical wealthy family might ‘fret about subsidising layabouts’ but Hills tots up all the ways in which they draw on the state:

– NHS Health services

– Student subsidies

– Pensions (that they will live to claim longer than their poorer contemporaries)

– Tax subsidies for property and private pensions

Myths perpetrated about the poor and benefits

Myth – There are families where no one has worked for three generations

The author’s research failed to find any social scientist who had identified such a family

Myth – David Cameron’s “life choice’ barb

Hills explains at the very height of the so-called pre-crisis profligacy of the Labour government –

– Only 6% of new job-seekers allowance claims lasted a year, with the majority signing off within two months

– The majority of incapacity benefits claims are closed within a year

– Typically people dip in and dip out of benefits

The importance of Social Security

Britain’s benefit system plays a huge part in levelling, and without it the gap between the wealthy and poor would be so huge that we would resemble a country like Chile (Chile has the largest gap between the income of the richest 10% and the poorest 10% of the population – OECD 2014).

Conclusions

Virtually everybody needs the state at one time or another

A determinism to defend decent benefits is essential to tackle inequality.

Read the Guardian review by Tom Clark

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