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Benefits have become the hottest issue in British politics. The Government says welfare spending has spiralled out of control. It wants to cut the bill - and make life tougher for the people George Osborne, says are "sleeping off a life on benefits"
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So, how did we get here?
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70 years ago, in the middle of the Second World War, Sir William Beveridge helped create the modern welfare state.http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/from-the-archive-blog/2012/nov/30/beveridge-report-proposals-1942-archive
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It would be a safety net to protect those at the bottom of the pile with support for people who were:http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2012/11/30/1354290852858/Social_Security_Beveridg_Plan-1.jpg
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Unemployed
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Disabled
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Bereaved
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So, what happened?
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In 1948, the British government spent £11bn in today's money on benefitsInstitute for Fiscal Studies
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Since then the bill has soared
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In 2012, it spent around £200bn
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That's more than the gross domestic product of Greece, Ireland and New ZealandGreece: £186bnUNhttp://unstats.un.org/unsd/snaama/dnltransfer.asp?fID=2
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And equivalent to £3,165 for every man, woman and child in the UKIreland: £137bn
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NZ: £101bn
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So, is Britain's benefits bill out of control?
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We spend nearly as much on Winter Fuel Allowance as we do on hospital accident & emergency departmentsWinter fuel: £2.1bn, A&E: £2.33bn
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But do you know what the biggest state benefit is in the UK?
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State pensions
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In 2011-12 they cost £74.2bn. That is more than we spend on schools and five times what goes on universitiesPensions £74.2bn, schools: £68.76bn, universities: £13.57bn
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How do we compare?
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Well, we do spend more of our national income on welfare than the United States, Canada, Australiahttp://charts-datawrapper.s3.amazonaws.com/og4Ek/index.html?rev=0
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And Estonia
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But we spend much less than other European countries like France, Denmark, Sweden and Germany
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Public opinion is turning against those on benefits
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Support for increased spending has gone down http://charts-datawrapper.s3.amazonaws.com/aXEEK/index.html?rev=46
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And new changes would increase benefits by just 1% a yearThis shows how benefits will slip behind average earningshttp://charts-datawrapper.s3.amazonaws.com/1dmiN/index.html?rev=12
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Even though the cost of living is rising by 2.7%
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But are the cuts really targetting the "skivers"?
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Many benefits go to people who are working but on low incomes
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Benefit% in work% out of workIn-work recipients
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Winter fuel payment23772.3m
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Disability Living Allowance1090323,000
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Income Support2981.6m
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Housing Benefit1981929,000
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And the Children's Society says that the changes the government made recently have hit thousands of working people300,000 nurses & midwives
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42,000 soldiers
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150,000 teachers
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The government has already scrapped child benefit for families where one person earns more than £60,000 and cut it for those earning above £50,000
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But two people with a combined income of £100,000 could still get itSHOW TWO PEOPLE ON £50k each
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What comes next?
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More changes: to benefits like Housing Benefit and the Disability Living Allowance
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Which often go to people in employment
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Whatever happens, thousands of people will feel the pain
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Will they be the skivers?
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Or the strivers?
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Or all of us?
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