Polling last week also revealed that more than 2 out of 5 people believe that benefits were too generous, and 3 out of 5 buy into the idea that a culture of dependency had emerged. A British trade union umbrella body that commissioned the research said Tuesday that public support for measures such as the one adopted by Parliament was based on ignorance of who will suffer.
But in many ways, the British debate over how to deal with its welfare state amid an economic crisis is par for the course in Europe – and one that, according to the British government, Britain is handling better than its peers on the Continent.
In Portugal, Ireland, and Greece, the three eurozone countries that have suffered most from the crisis engulfing the current zone, draconian cuts in welfare have been part of the bargain for International Monetary Fund bailouts. France's newly elected Socialist president, François Hollande has meanwhile been preparing the French for major changes to one of Europe's most expansive welfare states, pledging to bring down the budget deficit to 3 percent this year and announcing that “we must be ready to do better by spending less.”