Today sees the release of the annual British Social Attitudes series, and – for the first time – I have a chapter in it. I make two arguments. Firstly- and familiar to readers of this blog – I argue that attitudes to benefits are not as negative as they seem (as I blog about at The Conversation). Secondly, I look at whether people feel they are financially struggling (and whether other people are in poverty), how this has changed over time, and it’s link to benefit attitudes. You can find the full chapter here.
However, the newest and most newsworthy findings come from a different chapter (great though it was to be involved in BSA, I didn’t have any control over the questions in my chapter as I wasn’t funding the module!). The headline-grabbing findings come from the chapter by Rob Ford and Anthony Heath about immigration. Partly I was intrigued – but not surprised – to see that nearly one-quarter of the public think that the *main* reason people migrate to the UK is to claim benefits (!). But the table that’s closest to my interests (and which got the reporters interested, at least from the BBC) is about how long migrants should have to wait to be eligible for benefits:
In other words, very few people think that EU migrants should have instant access to benefits, and only 37% think they should have access within one year – but equally, an overwhelming majority think they should have access within five years. I’ve written about where ‘reciprocity’ fits into this using previous BSA questions on the blog here, and my interpretation still stands with the new question (much as wider attitudes to immigration are complex, and well-dissected in Ford & Heath’s typically clear chapter).