To mark the end of 2014 Welfare Weekly decided to answer some of the many questions asked by our readers over the last year.
How many answers to these questions did you know?
1: Number of jobseekers hit be benefit sanctions in the last year?
Answer: More than 900,000 adverse benefit sanctions decisions were made in the last year.
2: Name of the minister responsible for welfare reform, who is also a Conservative member of the House of Lords?
Answer: Lord Freud.
3: Number of MPs who stand to benefit financially from NHS privatisation/sell-off?
Answer: 71 MPs stand to benefit from more private sector involvement in the NHS.
4: The true rate of unemployment in the UK (as a rough percentage of all working age adults), not the ‘official’ unemployment rate?
Answer: The figure varies with the highest estimate being as many as 1 in 4 (25%) people of working age. This includes students, early retirees and sick and disabled people – among others.
5: The percentage of people found to be claiming benefits fraudulently?
Answer: Despite all the media propaganda this figure stands at just 0.7%
6: Number of households affected by the so-called ‘bedroom tax’?
Answer: Around 500,000 households, with families in the North West of England the hardest hit.
7: The amount in National Insurance contributions (£s) left unspent in the last year by Chancellor George Osborne?
Answer: £30 BILLION, according to a blog from John Prescott in the Daily Mirror.
8: Percentage of households in the UK with two generations of ‘worklessness’?
Answer: Iain Duncan Smith claimed there were large numbers of households in the UK with multiple generations of ‘worklessness’. In truth it’s just 1%.
9: Amount spent in £’s on benefits for the unemployed (JSA) in 2012-13?
Answer: According to available figures this amount stands at £4.9bn, compared to £74bn for state pension.
10: Percentage of sick and disabled people who find work through the Work Programme?
Answer: The latest figures puts this number at 8%, although it has been as low as just 2%.
11: Number of food parcels handed out by the food bank charity Trussell Trust in the last year?
Answer: More than 900,000 food parcels of three days worth of emergency food. With Trussell Trust being only one of many food bank charities, the true extent could be in the millions.
12: Percentage of UK households in receipt of some form of social security benefits?
Answer: The figure varies but the closest estimate is 64% of all households are in receipt of some form of social security benefits.
Source – Welfare Weekly, 22 Dec 2014