Solidarity in a crisis? Trends in attitudes to benefits during COVID-19

de Vries, R, Baumberg Geiger, B, Scullion, LC ORCID:, Summers, K, Edmiston, D, ingold, J, Robertshaw, D and Young, D 2021, Solidarity in a crisis? Trends in attitudes to benefits during COVID-19 , Project Report, University of Salford.

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There were good reasons to think COVID-19 would increase public support for welfare: it was a time of apparent increased solidarity in the face of a collective crisis; of clearly ‘deserving’ claimants; and of increases in direct experiences of the benefits system. And yet, the limited evidence collected so far suggests that attitudes have not changed. In this report, we explain this puzzle in the UK, using two datasets which are uniquely suited to the challenge: (i) bimonthly data collected by YouGov from 2019-2021, which provides comparable, high-resolution information on attitude changes across the pandemic and (ii) a nationally representative survey we conducted as part of the Welfare at a (Social) Distance project in June 2021, which explored COVID-19-related attitudes in unique detail. We found that COVID-19 prompted little change in public welfare attitudes. Attitudes did become slightly more generous during the first wave of the pandemic, only to rebound quickly in the Summer of 2020. The second COVID wave prompted another small increase in generosity. However, this appears unlikely to have endured. Overall, comparing May 2021 with the pre-pandemic period, the public were less anti-welfare than before – but only slightly. The extent of the overall change from pre-pandemic to June 2021 differs between measures (from six percentage points for whether people out of work get too much support; to no change in whether benefit conditions are strict enough), and is stronger for Conservative voters than Labour voters. In the context of a considerable softening in attitudes 2013-19, however, all of the pandemic-associated changes are small.

Item Type: Monograph (Project Report)
Schools: Schools > School of Health and Society
Publisher: University of Salford
Series Name: Welfare at a (Social) Distance
ISBN: 9781912337521
Related URLs:
Funders: Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Depositing User: USIR Admin
Date Deposited: 11 Oct 2021 13:24
Last Modified: 15 Feb 2022 17:32

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