Benefit uprating: a return to human decency?

Issue 141 (Spring 2012)

In tough economic times, public debate can sometimes become more understanding of the plight of the worst off, but at other times show elements of mean-spirited selfishness. Nowhere has the latter response been more evident than in recent debates about the uprating of benefits.

Here, Donald Hirsch reviews the principles on which benefits have been uprated in the past. He argues that we must stop lowering the absolute living standards of the least well off families in the country by linking uprating to what we think the country can afford and instead re-establish the principle of human decency, linking benefit uprating to a concept of fairness.