As far back as the 1800s, single mothers were receiving benefits. At that time, they would be paid up front and in cash, but were they better off than today?
It’s a perennial issue every government has to grapple with, whatever its political persuasion. Is the welfare system too generous?
The Welfare Reform Bill, currently going through parliament, is this government’s attempt to introduce what it says is “a simpler and fairer” system. But proposed cuts will hit the poor hardest, argue opponents.
New research shows that the amount of benefits given to those in need is a debate that has raged for hundreds of years. It also challenges commonly held beliefs that the poor in centuries past were universally left to flounder, often in crushing poverty.