The UK’s welfare benefits bill increased by over £4 billion in 2010/11, with certain areas claiming seven times more in welfare payments than others do. The total cost of welfare benefits payment in 2010/11 was £121 billion, a rise on the £116.7 billion bill in 2009/10.
Knowsley in Merseyside was revealed the UK’s “benefits capital”, with residents in this constituency pocketing £146 million in financial support. The figures have not considered housing benefit. However, should housing benefit be included, the figure would prove to be even higher. North East Hampshire boasted the lowest welfare benefits bill, with residents here claiming a total of £25.6 million. The majority of the areas with the lowest benefit claimant levels were suburbs located in South England.
Chris Grayling, the employment minister, claimed that the figures demonstrated the importance of the Government’s proposed welfare reforms. Increasing levels of unemployment have resulted in a rise in benefit claims. In excess of five million individuals of working age are currently receiving out-of-work benefits.
The figures will increase Coalition tensions over the decision to increase welfare benefits payments by just over five per cent in 2012. Many Conservative MPs are said to be angered by the move, which is in sharp contrast to the working tax credits freeze and the one per cent income cap on public sector employees. Critics have claimed that the increase in benefits payments undermines the Government’s vow to “make work pay”. The increase in welfare benefits was called for by the Liberal Democrats.
Duncan Lewis’ welfare benefits solicitors are able to assess clients’ eligibility for a wide range of Government-backed financial support.