The front page of this morning’s Telegraph carries the headline, “nine in 10 Scots ‘living off state patronage’”. Dovetailing with the current focus on welfare cuts at Tory Party conference, the story disclosed that most Scottish households “take more from the public purse than they contribute in taxes,” due to a “rotten system” of state patronage in which state spending now accounts for “more than half” of Scotland’s wealth.
This may be true, but the problem is more widespread than this – even south of the border. The Centre for Policy Studies, a right-leaning think tank, has unveiled striking new research which suggests that 53.4 per cent of British households take more in benefits and services than they contribute in taxes.
The study was based on figures from the Office for National Statistics, and demonstrates that the top 20 per cent of earners are paying significantly more to the state – an average of £20,125-a-year – than they receive in benefits and public services. Middle income households, meanwhile, take out £4,589 more than they contribute.
The proportion of takers as opposed to givers has risen from 43.1 per cent in 1979. At that time, Mrs Thatcher had just taken leadership of a country experiencing double-digit inflation, a post-War record of 700,000 unemployed, and high levels of government debt that required delicate negotiations to borrow from the IMF. Given that context, the present figures appear even more sobering; more than half of the country’s citizens take more than they contribute. We all know how Mrs Thatcher dragged the country back into profitability. It seems certain that whoever is in power in 2015, a similar attitude will need to be adopted again. Continue reading on the Telegraph website