October 9th, 2012

How Many Britons Are Net Recipients of the State?

Poll-leading Mitt Romney’s hopes of defeating Barack Obama were written off by many when he attacked the 47% of Americans who don’t pay federal income tax last month. At the time Guido’s own number-crunching revealed that 46% of the British electorate are dependent on the state:

Now a report by the Centre for Policy Studies has found that 53.4% of UK households receive more in benefits than they pay in taxes. That figure has gone up by almost 10% since 2000:

This is why the IDS-Osborne battle is so significant…


  1. 1
    Pawn Sandwich says:

    The creation of dependents is easier than the creation of wealth. This house of cards will tumble down one day.

  2. 2
    Kebab Time says:

    But people also get FREE TURNIPS!!


  3. 3
    The BBC says:

    We like to investigate our selves as impartiality is in our DNA.


  4. 4
    Jane Pilgrim says:

    The road to serfdom indeed.

  5. 5
    Anonymous says:

    A Y-Axis worthy of the LibDems or Greenies!

  6. 6
    Steve Miliband says:

    Cut my taxes.

  7. 7
    Moussa Koussa says:

    LOL…Is this the FIRST indication of UK neo nuts support for MITT

    “”gone up by almost 10% since 2000″”

    Funny Dave and Gidders always say that benefits rose 100% + since 2000 !!!!

    So we only need to rebalance 10% ?????…LOL

  8. 8
    completely-pissed-off says:

    Of course allowing employers to kick people out of their jobs at the drop of a hat will make them less dependent on the state.

    I can’t remember when we have had the misfortune to have such a bunch of useless out-of-touch idiots in parliament, Labour, Tory and the lib-dems. WTF!!

  9. 9
    Synic says:

    August U.K. Trade Deficit £4.2 bn. Government Deficit circa £12 bn. National Debt over £1 tn.
    Manufacturing Contracted for 17th. month.
    Good news — the caring luvvy feely gutless Government rolls on regardless.

  10. 10
    Loungelizard says:

    We should also look at the farmers, many receive astonishing levels of benefits including the single farm payment and pay next to nothing in tax.

  11. 11
    Forester126 says:

    As most of those recipients were put in place by Gordon Brown and are more likely to vote Labour isn’t it time he was prosecuted for Gerrymandering.

  12. 12
    Tip of the iceberg says:

    Of course not all pensioners receive more than they contribute plus they contributed to their pensions when they were working.

    It’s the welfare one that has to be sorted out as for many it had become their choice for a life if Jeremy Kyle and a gyro from the state every fortnight but worse than that they are not paying for all the other state services they receive and that is even more expensive. I dread to think what a Chave couple and their four sprogs really cost the state when such things as free schooling, free health care, social services and the police are taken into account.

  13. 13
    Dick Droxford says:

    I am feeling rather pedantic today, so having just read this post was unable to avoid pointing out that if %age net recipients had risen by 10% from 43.8%, it would now be 48.18% and not 53.4%. Perhaps you meant it had risen by just under 10 %age points, which is quite different. Just as important as the difference between deficit and debt by the way… and for all of you co-conspirators who get “bored of” this kind of comment, don’t get me started!

  14. 14
    Pawn Sandwich says:

    I don’t think his constituents will like that, mind you they are probably too busy building those two aircraft carriers.

  15. 15
    Postal Vote says:

    This is unfortunately why Brown’s electoral strategy will eventually be successful for labour, albeit to late for himself. Last elections that Labour won they got about 9.7 million of the votes. If you add public sector employment and benefit recipients together and take into account their dependents as well, it is clear to see that esp Brown embarked on a ruthless strategy to buy the electorate at the expense of the net tax payer.

    I reckon that this Center for Policy Studies report wil not get many column inches in the Guardian nor air time on the Beeb. We can forgive the Mirror for ignoring it because that paper does not pretend it is virtuous.

  16. 16
    Airey Belvoir says:

    Guido, kindly stop using the phrase ‘old age pensioners’. Just ‘pensioners’ will do, as those of us who are 65 and up (aargh!) don’t like to think of ourselves as ancient!

  17. 17
    George Gideon Oliver Osborne says:

    Just wait till “Birthday Boy” Dave Cameron spouts hollow words to Conference.

    He’s the biggest liar on 2 wheels.

  18. 18
    Glyn H says:

    And 30 or 40% of the population still don’t understand that Brown deliberately debuached the British economy for partisan Labour interests.

    PS: What did Boris mean by saying that Jeremy Hunt could play the Bell End at the politicians olypics?

  19. 19
    Lazy scroungers are one thing but why include pensioners in the calculations? says:

    Is Guido suggesting OAPs should be made to get off their arse and work?

  20. 20
    Handycock says:

    I like em nice and fresh, just like Sir Jimmy.

  21. 21
    Baroness Walsall says:

    Cameron is now saying that when a burglar burgles your house he loses his ” rights ” .

    What ” rights ” are those then ?

  22. 22
    My manifesto says:

    As Prime Minister, I would give all law abiding citizens the right to use maximum force in self-defence against criminals; no criminal who is hurt during the commission of a crime will be allowed under the law to press charges or pursue compensation; as a deterrent, first time offenders will get an automatic 10 years in prison; r*pists, p*edophiles and murderers would automatically get a whole life tariff with no parole; all muslim hate preachers would be deported, and those born here would be stripped of their citizenship and deported; all immigration from muslim countries would be stopped; all aid to corrupt third world countries would be stopped; the burka would be banned; funding of all faith schools would be ended; the teaching of creationism and other religious propaganda would be banned; a referendum on membership of the EU would be held; and the licence fee would be abolished and the BBC made a commercial enterprise like ITV and Channel 4 etc.

  23. 23
    Anonymous says:

    Didnt you live here 2 years ago then ? If you did you surely must remember Gordon, Eds x2 Hat etc making a pigs ear out of their stab at Government !

  24. 24
    Fluffy Thoughts says:

    Wales and the Ulster-Scots are perennial subsidy-monkeys. Which is why the SNats want out of Westminster: They are so progressive that they hate subsidising their celtic-cousins.

    England would be better off without….

  25. 25
    We're doomed says:

    Good point Richard. The percentage rise is far greater than Guido suggests, it is in fact almost 25% !!

  26. 26
    Where are Tony Blair's Expenses says:

    This is frightening and Balls, Miliband and all the other left wing trolls want to borrow more money. Where do they think it comes from a money tree, sorry silly me its the QE tree.

    Printing money = hyper inflation and the destruction of your savings

  27. 27
    Hang The Bastards says:

    UK – the home of sponging parasites.

    How many of these are immigrants let in by Labour ?

  28. 28
    50 Calibre says:

    Thankyou Brown, Balls and Miliband minimus…

  29. 29
    Uncle Joe says:

    And the gulag. Get some of them shot on the way

  30. 30
    Uncle Joe says:

    No free turnips for you!

  31. 31
    Tristram Smallbore-ffipps says:

    It is a somewhat strange methodology that defines members of the armed forces and police as ‘dependent on the state’. It is also odd that state pensioners, who have been told that they are buying a pension by payment of their NICs, are now (under this methodology) effectively being told these are state benefits which are somehow being given as a piece of state largesse rather than being a right which the pensioner has purchased with their NICs. This is exactly the sort of sloppy work which should result in the authors being forced to write out 1000 times ‘I must not pretend to be capable of rational thought in the face of clear evidence to the contrary’.

  32. 32
    Uncle Joe says:

    Maths is not their strong point. They will be shot

  33. 33
    Uncle Joe says:

    You know what is needed.

  34. 34
    Anonymous says:

    There was a 24 year old man interviewed on PM last night. He has 4 kids (!) he gets £1,800 in benefits per month “about the same” as the amount he says he earned before losing his job, and guess what, he was complaining about it.Im sorry if anybody is out of work if they are genuine, but the sense of entitlement takes your breath away.

  35. 35
    Uncle Joe says:

    10% – 25% no matter as long as they are shot

  36. 36
    Uncle Joe says:

    Deviant, shoot him

  37. 37
    Sara D says:

    If only we had a Conservative women PM who has the balls to do something about this, rather than a social democrat lady boy like Cameron.

  38. 38
    Ex-Tory says:

    Quite. Be careful about denigrating pensioners as State dependent. Not all are reliant on their State pension and the vast majority that are, paid contributions for most of their working lives into the State pension scheme.

    Also, many private sector businesses are reliant on State contracts, but are not included in the ‘public sector’.

  39. 39
    Uncle Joe says:

    Yes and shoot any that won’t

  40. 40
    Uncle Joe says:

    My manifesto is simpler. Shoot them

  41. 41
    Taxfodder says:

    This may be so but even dependants pay taxes a number of times over on every shilling they spend, so the claw back makes the whole argument futile and pointless.

    60% tax alone on petrol other taxes on utilities, booze and ciggys the list just goes on and on.

    Example buy a new car you pay car tax on the basic price then VAT on the sum total (a tax on tax) and as for road tax…..

    Plus who ever heard of Government getting its sums right let alone telling the truth.

  42. 42
    Ex-Tory says:

    It would not matter if the Tories had not lost 4-5m voters since 1992. They have lost even more since Dave became a metropolitan leftie.

  43. 43
    SimonS says:

    Not the greatest statistic Guido, if you don’t mind me saying so. All you’re really saying is that 46% of the electorate don’t pay tax on a private-sector employment. So the 54% who DO pay private-sector tax are the only good guys, even though there will be a huge number of them who receive far more worth of “free” state-provided services (education, health, law ‘n order etc) than they pay in tax – and who are therefore, partially at least, “dependent” on the state.

  44. 44
    Pol Pot says:

    And then we shoot those for whom maths is a strong point.

  45. 45
    LOL! says:

    Using Green Party terms, this is unsustainable.

  46. 46
    Lazy scroungers are one thing but why include pensioners in the calculations? says:

    Is that you, Mr Mandelson?

  47. 47
    keddaw says:

    We’re running a hundred billion quid deficit, I should fucking well hope more people are receiving a net benefit from the state than are paying in!

  48. 48
    ouch! says:

    It’s where you put them that’s the problem 8illy.

  49. 49
    god, i hate them all says:


    Watch how Stormont squeals at the prospect of benefit scroungers being squeezed.

  50. 50
    Anonymous says:

    Actually it’s gone up by almost 22% not 10% from 2000 – Neo Guido’s maths isn’t his strong point either -he must be a product of a Nu Labour education or he’s an Oxbridge PPE twat. It’s risen by 10 percentage points not by 10%.

  51. 51
    Anonymous says:

    Er, Brown didn’t give a shit about savings nor do his evil spawn, the two Eds.

  52. 52
    Gordon and Prudence says:

    Remember kids, one million more public sector workers = growth.

  53. 53
  54. 54
    dripping says:

    Thatcher would have definitely classed him as a wet.

  55. 55
    david attenborough says:

    There’s a name for this in the natural world……parasites.

  56. 56
    Arthur Dent says:

    Very sad to see Guido stooping to such graphsmanship, I had thought he was more honest than that

  57. 57
    Liarpoliticians says:

    Claiming that pensioners are “dependent on the state” is not a fair representation of the data (especially as most have paid into the system in the first place to get the state pension).

    Better look at those in working age getting ever more benefits. For example, Gordon Brown massively increased child benefit to buy votes. Switching people to incapacity benefit to hide them off the unemployment list.

  58. 58
    AC1 says:

    “their jobs” The job is owned by the employer not the employee you numpty.

  59. 59
    Uncle Joe says:

    Thus we achieve the perfect society!

  60. 60
    Uncle Joe says:

    How dare you, there are no sexual deviants in the USSR. And we look after our pensioners better than you!

  61. 61
    Uncle Joe says:

    If you’re in the market for a mass deportation let me know, I have unique experience in that area.

  62. 62
    Perry says:

    Maybe we could deduct the voluntary work that is done by many – including pensioners – without which some services would crumble.

  63. 63
    Hobsbarmy says:

    I’d add to that, shoot all totalitarian leftists -stalinists or trots.

  64. 64
    Not surprised says:

    Can anyone explain the logic behind our current system?

    I’m paid an average amount, I’m not wealthy by any means, but I’ve worked hard all my life, was made redundant from a good job, fought hard to get another job and I’ m now back on an even keel.

    Before I get paid, the government has already taken money from my company to cover their contributions for my National Insurance. Then, it takes my own NI contribution and Income Tax. The bit I have left I then have to pay a chunk to my local government so my bin can be emptied. If I buy any goods or services I have to pay an extra 20% to the government despite the fact they do nothing to facilitate these transactions. I pay extra tax to watch TV, if I take out insurance I pay tax on that, then, what bit of money I have left that I put in savings, they tax me on the meagre interest I earn!

    Because I have a child in full time education, they kindly give me some back and say I should be grateful for them giving back what was mine in the first place!

    As soon as Governments realized they could bribe people with their own money we were screwed.

    Who will rid us of these troublesome politicians?

  65. 65

    The state is not a bad thing. Without it we would still be warring tribes killing the villagers next door (now it is other countries!) and without it we would still have serfdom. Take a tour round Lady Victoria Colliery near Edinburgh and listen to the ex miners who within living memory had to deal with the very sharp end of capitalism. Bit of an eye opener.

    You may blame Labour today (and with reason), you might be pissed at the LibDems (and with reason) but the legacy of the Tories looks like it will be far worse as they de-evolve this nation in ideological beliefs that have proven themselves not to work in history for anymore than a small percentage of the population.

    The question is not how to get Britain to compete in areas that we have no realistic hope in anymore, but in playing to our stengths and developing them (everything form inovation, inventing, software engineering, education (Scotland iirc trains chinese doctors for example) while working to risk manage our nation (water and food security etc – though I do accept that EU regulation can make this difficult).

    Edinburgh historically, and even to this day with JK Rowling produces authors that inspire our world (and she wrote HP when on benefits remember – if she hadnt been able to get the benefits we may not have Harry Potter or the taxes she now pays). Right back to Dr Jekyl and Mr Hyde one of the first books on the duality of life, the good and bad within us all. We can and do inspire people. Build upon this. Grab the world by its balls and show it that we can lead again, that we can innovate, that we can play to our natural strengths. You wont do that by turning us into a wanabee America or retarding this nation back to the industrial revolution days in terms of social wellbeing.

    The markets control our world, making or breaking governments and businesses. That needs to change. Money is a man made invention that should make our life easier not strangle us. Sadly few have the balls to stand up to the markets (and lets face it we are simply talking about momney motivated invividuals) and say “Look chaps this needs to change.” OK they wont like it, but sooner or later it will happen, as that is the easiest way our of the global crisis.

  66. 66
    Anonymous says:

    I agree- don’t give pensioners a hard time.
    They’ve paid into the system for years, many have their own private pensions and still work.

  67. 67
    Civil Servant says:

    So doctors, nurses, the police and the army are “dependent” on the State? What bullshit.

  68. 68
    Uncle Joe says:

    Don’t I always? Remember I trained as a priest!

  69. 69
    Uncle Joe says:

    Do I need to say it?

  70. 70
    Uncle Joe says:

    It would be my pleasure and historical duty to rid you of them all.

  71. 71
    Hobsbarmy says:

    Some sensible thoughts, but can’t help thinking Gideon has p.issed on his Trickers with the employee-giving-up-employment-rights-for-a-bung idea. An arch proposal for a return to the Dickensian era. Them toffs eh?

  72. 72
    AC1 says:

    Tell you what. Let people opt out of the NHS and see how long the NHS hangs around…

  73. 73
    Jimmy says:

    Love the Focus leaflet graph.

    Still I think the message is clear. The party in power in 1979 and in 2000 seems to have done a much better job than the party in power in 2011.

  74. 74
    Giles says:

    This is way overdue.

  75. 75
    Unfunny no-talent comedian says:

    I never met him or even been to the BBC. I also never joined his gang.

  76. 76
    keredybretsa says:

    Under the Communists it was 100% dependent on the state. There are probably countries around where it is 0%. Although during a UK visit we saw dozens of all ages queueing to get into restaurants in London. Another day in a Kentish village restaurant at least £40 a head around 40 silver headed ones feeding our faces. Evidently state dependence ain’t so bad.

  77. 77
    Mitt Romney says:

    Shoulda mentioned it when I was in London for the Olympics, now that YOU mentioned my name– it’s just like at home!

  78. 78
    Popeye says:

    I don’t consider my pension that I have paid for is a “Benefit”, I worked 50 years to get it.

  79. 79
    Anthony Charles Lynton Blair says:

    You sure about that?

  80. 80
    Sungei Patani says:

    The only tax you pay on the purchase of a new car is VAT. Car purchase tax was abolished years ago.

  81. 81
    Sungei Patani says:

    Very few miners still around today would have worked in a privately run coal mine (except those few who are now working in the mines that are all privatised) . The mines were state controlled during the war and nationalise soon afterwards so if times were harsh yhen it was not capitalism that was responsible then.

    In all human history only free markets have stood the test of time; you cant have a free society where the free market is abolished. You have only got to look at the Soviet Block to see what happened to them.

  82. 82
    Anonymous says:

    Well flipping said.

    Without police, soldiers, teachers, firemen, nurses the whole system breaks down and there is no economy.

    Lets look at the numbers in Somalia or some other 3rd world hell hole.

  83. 83
    Anonymous says:

    But Guido’s entire point falls apart if you take out pensioners mate!

  84. 84

    Only going on the word of a miner who worked in private mines (or at least claimed to)

    Sungei, I am an ex member of the Adam Smith Institute, and have worked in the global business field, and have zero issue with the profit motive. But all out capitalism isnt as beneficial to most people as the millionaires would have you believe. A balance of profit and social responsibility is required.

    By tearing up half a century of evolution in the UK our government is, hopefully unthinkingly and unintentionally, fracturing, when it is tryinbg to inspire. All obviously in my opinion.

    When I was yong I was as much a capitalist as anyone else, but having seen its nastier side, I am now a firm believer in social repsonsibility. If you tell people to make money, that is precisely what they will do, and greed, egos and heaps of hardship results (business owners etc excepted of course).

  85. 85

    Meant to say the question is one of balance. Tearing up this nations social fabric in a bit to inspire which chasing man made money is stupidity.

  86. 86

    “while chasing” even

  87. 87
    Anonymous says:

    Does this chart include subsidised private rail, construction, security, arms and banking companies?

  88. 88
    Lord Presturd says:

    Yes very true. I paid my way and now want it all back.

  89. 89
    puddleduck says:

    The welfare state has BACKFIRED. From health where drinking yourself to near death doesn’t matter since you can get a liver transplant (if your lucky) to welfare dependency where creating babies, to give you a roof over head. But it those on this dependency gravy train it also ensnares! (you might like to think about that – the pegging for money from family in one shape or form)
    There shouldn’t be A FREE RIDE. Those that do deserve get LESS, like the chronic disabled because the system is milked by the feckless. Neither should you arrive from another country to benefit from another countries welfare & health, unless you have paid into the system.

  90. 90
    The entire Labour Party says:

    Surely that honour goes to us.

  91. 91
    puddleduck says:

    As a nurse, and if you are a state employee you have to be aware that you don’t contribute to the wealth & income of a nation. Although you may be employed in an essential role. But look about where you live, the people you know and work out how in gods name ”we” the public sector is paid, considering there are so many of us. How many wealth creators paying tax does it take to support the PUBLIC PURSE.

  92. 92
    EA says:

    What would be really interesting, although not necessarily very easy, would be to assess how many people are in receipt of benefits and haven’t paid in. Benefits are intended as a safety net. So if Joe Bloggs has been working for 14 years and paying in taxes to the exchequer, and needs 3 months Job Seekers, actually I don’t have a problem with that or indeed see him as a dependent in any negative sense. What I do care about is someone who has never worked in Britain and has therefore never paid any taxes to us.

  93. 93
    Four-eyed English Genius says:

    No state pensioner has paid a penny towards their pension. Thanks to the “wonderful” system set up in 1948, all NICs paid so far have existing pensioners. While I do not mind my taxes being used to pay for the Armed Forces, emergency services and the medical profession, I do object for paying for numerous levels of middle management, incompetent management and the underemployed masses of the civil service. There are many sensible and hardworking civil servants who realise how hugely overmanned they are.

  94. 94
    Jim says:

    This shows just how bad Media reporting is in the UK. Previous reports of 12.8% employed in the Public Sector have implied one in eight workers are employed by the State. This information shows that the 12.8% is against workers of 54% or one in five working people employed by the State. Now you can see that this employment ratio is completely unsustainable.
    If only the UK Media could explain the truth rather than support vested interests taxpayers may be able to understand the problem.

  95. 95
    Anonymous says:

    What about prisoners of the state? Time spent in hospitals and nursing homes? What about the fact that pensioners will have paid the state to keep them when they retire? What about the tax paid by civil service workers?

    This report is just bollocks

  96. 96
    Living in 98 percent white Merseyside says:

    Much higher than 53.4% up our way.

  97. 97
    robbie says:

    Its irrelevant

  98. 98
    Peter Aloysius Mandelson says:

    Indeed it does.

  99. 99
    william whitaker says:

    Yor hired.

  100. 100
    Only Me says:

    NI is a ponzi scheme, after all the 1st to receive state pensions hadn’t paid in & the system is dependent upon new entrants; its a lie used to prop up general tax revenues.
    How many people actually pay in enough to cover the cost of their own pensions?

    As to public sector employees; they still need paying for from somewhere & in many cases it could be argues that the benefit provided is less than the cost paid.

    The simplistic analysis of the number of people dependent upon the state for their revenues is significant in political terms on a “turkeys don’t vote for Christmas” basis. However, as has been said, the current balance is unsustainable; you just need to look at the expansion of “dependency” over the last decade to see why the economy is in such a mess.

  101. 101
    Only Me says:

    Its part of why retirement ages had to increase; after all the pension age was set up based on much lower life expectancies & left unchanged due to the voting power of those who then felt entitled to it.
    Its a system that became unsustainable long ago but which is political suicide to tackle.

  102. 102
    Anonymous says:

    Public sector worker doesn’t mean reliant on state and so support labour! We pay tax as well and want a better, more efficient, less bureaucratic public sector.

  103. 103
    Tom Catesby says:

    Guido, I looked at your ‘pie chart’ and am somewhat intrigued by your assumptions.
    As I don’t work in the ‘public sector’, you may be able to lighten my darkness. Are you suggesting ‘public sector’ workers don’t make a contribution by paying income tax and the other tax, laughingly described as, ‘national insurance contributions? If you are, you are wrong and should get off your arse, get out more and try and meet some of these people. If you have already done this, then you have clearly not been listening. Add 12.8% to the other 54% of contributors!

  104. 104
    Tom Catesby says:

    By the way, as I am a pensioner living on a modest private pension and not yet in receipt of the state pension, which I also contributed to, you are most certainly not ‘supporting’ me by the ‘sweat of your brow’.

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