Most blame poor wages for workers claiming benefit, survey finds

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More than three-quarters of people in Scotland believe employees claiming benefits work hard but wages cannot cover their living costs, according to a new survey.

A total of 77% of respondents to a YouGov poll for Citizens Advice Scotland gave this response when questioned on the reasons for claiming benefits.

One in six (59%) said they need extra to look after themselves or family members due to expenses such as illness or childcare.

Just over a third (36%) believe claimants have been unlucky with their circumstances, such as accruing unexpected debts.

Almost a fifth (18%) believe benefits claimants “are lazy and don’t want to work more than they currently do”.

The online survey of 1,012 adults also found that three quarters of people (75%) agreed workers on benefits work just as hard as anyone else and 69% agreed there should be more help for people to claim what they are entitled to.

Around a third (32%) agreed that if benefits were not so generous people would learn to stand on their own two feet, but 80% said cutting welfare payments would have a negative effect on the lives of many.

More than half (55%) believe people who rely on social security are in that situation through no fault of their own.

However, more than a third (35%) said most people could manage if they just budgeted sensibly, and 33% agreed the majority of benefits claimants have it easy because they get everything paid by the Government.

The survey results have been released ahead of Citizens Advice Scotland launching a new campaign on Tuesday, aimed at encouraging people to get a financial health check through the organisation to ensure they are receiving payments for which they qualify.

Citizens Advice Scotland chief executive Derek Mitchell said: “This polling busts a series of myths around social security, and shows that the vast majority of people believe that our welfare state is there to help workers who need a hand, especially as the cost of living is soaring while wages have remained broadly the same.

“People should be claiming what they are due. That’s how the system works, we all pay in and get support when we need it.”

He said many people put off dealing with financial trouble due to embarrassment or feeling ashamed.

He added: “That’s why, later this week Citizens Advice Scotland will launch the For Your Benefit campaign and encourage people to check they are getting what they are entitled to.

“People can call 0800 085 7145 or pop into their local bureau for a free, confidential, financial health check with a trained adviser.”

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