Professor Karen Rowlingson, Professor of Social Policy and Director of the Centre on Household Assests and Savings Management (CHASM), said: “George Osborne has put a cap on the social security budget stating, in today’s budget, that we should never again allow the cost of welfare spending to ‘spiral out of control’.
“By so doing, he has perpetuated one of the many myths about spending on benefits. In reality, however, the period 1995-2011 saw expenditure on benefits, as a proportion of GDP, falling sharply and then remaining stable for the longest period since the foundation of the welfare state after the second world war.
“George Osborne warns that even more cuts will be needed after the next election and housing benefit for the under 25s could be next for the spending axe.
“But more than half of social security spending goes on pensioners, so will the government start to target pensioners’ benefits, perhaps means-testing bus passes and winter fuel payments? These universal benefits currently go to the richest pensioners as well as the poorest. Or will they continue to protect pensioners’ benefits and cut those of the working-age population?”
“Of course spending has increased since 2008/9 as a consequence of increasing levels of unemployment and underemployment but that is exactly why we have a social security safety net – to support people in times of need.
“The various caps to social security introduced by this, and previous, budgets, will merely serve to tear this safety net away and leave people vulnerable to severe levels of deprivation.”