Just Deserts? examines public attitudes towards fairness, poverty and welfare reform. What do we think “fairness” is? Extensive new research finds British voters believe that fairness is about getting what you deserve, not about equality. British people are strong believers in reciprocity: and want existing rights balanced by new responsibilities. The poll finds strong support for asking the long term unemployed to do community work in return for their benefits, and also support for a cap on child benefit. Reducing unemployment and cutting taxes on low earners are seen as the most important steps to a fairer Britain. Voters want politicians to tackle poverty, but want them to focus on its root causes - drug addiction, poor education and unemployment - rather than ‘papering over the cracks’ with cash transfers.
- Neil O'Brien
- Grey power is growing – and it can make Britain a better place
24 August 2012
Policy Exchange Director Neil O'Brien examines the politics of having an increasingly aged population and argues that we need to learn to use the capabilities older people have to cope with the aging population.
- The public is more than ready to see benefits made fair
30 June 2012
Policy Exchange Director Neil O'Brien calls for the re-establishment of the contributory principle in the welfare system. He praises the government for strengthening jobsearch requirements but says that more needs to be done to target those furthest away from the labour market and tailor support towards their specific needs.
- Britain’s cheering gloom
29 June 2012
Polling findings from Policy Exchange's report Just Deserts? are cited in The Economist's Bagehot column. The report found that people disagreed by a wide margin that Britain is a meritocracy, but that they strongly wished for it to be one.
- Why we should change the child poverty target
13 June 2012
Policy Exchange Director Neil O'Brien shows why we should change the Child Poverty Target – which currently only measures inequality rather than actual poverty – to one which measures a range of indicators including unemployment and education.
- We cannot afford Labour’s £31 billion tax credit monster. Our welfare system must link rights to personal responsibility
10 April 2012
The Daily Mail cites Policy Exchange's No Rights Without Responsibility and its calls for the reinstating of links between contributions and benefits receipts and introducing workfare in an article on making welfare claimants take more personal responsibility.
- The public would back a child benefit cap for more than three kids
08 March 2012
Following speculation that the government is contemplating a cap on child benefit at three children, Policy Exchange Director Neil O'Brien cites findings from report Just Deserts? that this would in fact be a popular policy with the public.
- Compassionate Conservatives find it's time to think again
06 March 2012
The Guardian highlights Policy Exchange's 10th birthday, calling us the most influential thinktank in Britain, and citing our past successes as well as our future policy plans such as ending national pay bargaining and moving child poverty measures to a 'causes of poverty' target.
- We don't really have 'workfare' in the UK. But perhaps we should
02 March 2012
Director Neil O'Brien discusses the confusion of the various 'workfare' schemes the government has implemented, citing findings from Just Deserts? of public support for such programmes, and makes the case from Something for Nothing that more controlled workfare schemes should be piloted to gain a better understanding of their impact upon unemployment levels.
- Matthew Oakley on Newsnight
24 February 2012
Head of Economics & Social Policy Matthew Oakley appears on Newsnight citing findings from Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? that the public are strongly in favour of conditional welfare and demonstrating the benefits that workfare programmes bring.
- Why Britain fails the maths test
21 February 2012
Robert Colville writes in the Daily Telegraph referencing Policy Exchange's report Just Deserts revealing that in a poll, only one in seven people had known the difference between the national debt and national deficit.
- Workfare is fair. The challenge is to make it effective.
21 February 2012
Head of Economics & Social Policy Matthew Oakley defends conditional welfare schemes as fair and beneficial to those on them as they improve their employment prospects.
- The director of Policy Exchange says fairness can't be measured on a chart
24 January 2012
Policy Exchange Director Neil O'Brien is interviewed for Total Politics. Neil cites the findings from our report Just Deserts? on the public's conception of fairness and shows how relevant recommendations from Making Housing Affordable are to this view.
- Welfare reform: how to create a different and tighter benefit cap
23 January 2012
Policy Exchange Director Neil O'Brien writes on his Telegraph blog proposing alternative, principle-driven ways to cap welfare.
- Why the Tories must shed their "party of the rich" image
11 January 2012
David Skelton, Policy Exchange's Deputy Director, writes on The New Statesman's Staggers blog setting out why the Conservatives need to shed their image as representing the “party of the rich”.
- Should tax cuts for people on low incomes prioritise people with children?
04 January 2012
Policy Exchange Director Neil O'Brien writes on his Telegraph blog examining how the tax system should respond to the number of children a person has, citing polling findings from report Just Deserts? that show that the public is quite split about how much help people with children should expect from the rest of society.
- Welcome to the self-preservation society
11 December 2011
The Sunday Times extensively quote Director Neil O'Brien and findings from report Just Deserts in an article on the new British Social Attitudes survey.
- We Tories must conserve our compassion
07 December 2011
Writing on The Guardian's Comment is Free blog, ConservativeHome editor Tim Montgomerie cites polling results from Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? which show the public consider reducing unemployment, cutting tax for the poorest and improving the education system to be more effective ways of reducing poverty than increasing benefits.
- We should welcome this experiment with workfare
09 November 2011
Policy Exchange Director Neil O'Brien posts on his Telegraph blog welcoming David Cameron's announcement of the introduction of a workfare-style system. Policy Exchange has advocated such a system recently in report Something for Nothing and polling for report Just Deserts? found that it would be a popular policy.
- The Rich Deny Themselves
24 October 2011
The Spectator's Alex Massie quotes Policy Exchange Director Neil O'Brien's recent article examining 'the squeezed middle'.
- The squeezed middle: why Ed Miliband's phrase defines the new political battleground
24 October 2011
Policy Exchange Director Neil O'Brien writes in The Daily Telegraph examining the 'squeezed middle'.
- We must teach Britain to love the market
04 October 2011
Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Conservative MP Elizabeth Truss cites poll findings from Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? that 63% of people agree with a free market conception of fairness, as opposed to 85% who agree with a meritocratic conception.
- Claimants should earn 'their' money
10 September 2011
The North West Evening Mail cites polling figures for Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? that 80% of people would support making benefits claimants perform some sort of community work in return for their money if they had been jobless for 12 months.
- Winning over the "strivers" is key to the next election
10 September 2011
Policy Exchange Deputy Director David Skelton writes on The New Statesman's Staggers blog arguing that the appealing to the aspirational classes is key for any party's electoral success. He cites findings from report Just Deserts? that voters have believe meritocratic values should determine how well they do in life.
- David Cameron must show us that his party is not just for the rich
28 August 2011
Policy Exchange Director Neil O'Brien argues in The Sunday Telegraph that the Conservative Party has failed to shake off its perception as the party of the rich and outlines a series of policies that will benefit normal working people.
- Benefits must no longer be unconditional
22 August 2011
Policy Exchange Director Neil O'Brien calls for the principle of conditionality to be reintroduced to welfare, citing polling from report Just Deserts? which shows a strong public backing for such a measure.
- Tough justice threatens to split the coalition
21 August 2011
The Sunday Times cites polling figures from Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? which show that a large majority of people back conditional welfare. Director Neil O'Brien is quoted calling for policymakers to learn the lessons from the United States in this area.
- Matt Oakley: Breaking the link between welfare and crime
20 August 2011
Policy Exchange Head of Enterprise, Growth & Social Policy Matt Oakley writes on ConservativeHome calling for welfare reforms that will restore responsibility and a sense of morality to the welfare state.
- Policy Exchange calls for sell off to fund new homes
22 June 2011
The Guardian quotes Policy Exchange Head of Enterprise, Growth and Social Policy Matt Oakley's comments at the Chartered Institute for of Housing conference where he cited polling from report Just Deserts? showing that a large majority of the British public do not believe that social tenants should be given expensive housing.
- These welfare reforms won't hit the spot
19 June 2011
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Rt Hon Frank Field MP quotes polling data from Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? showing that voters prefer a contributory approach to welfare and have a conception of fairness based on desert.
- Welfare reform: Canterbury tales
10 June 2011
The Guardian cites polling conducted for Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? which found that the British public holds an overwhelmingly meritocratic concept of fairness.
- Connecting with aspiration remains the key to electoral success
13 May 2011
Policy Exchange's Deputy Director David Skelton writes on Platform 10 that the key issue for politicians should be aspiration, citing findings from Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? that the British public strongly see fairness as a meritocratic concept.
- Alex Morton on BBC Radio London
12 May 2011
Alex Morton, Senior Research Fellow for Housing and Planning appears on BBC Radio London to discuss Westminster council’s view that higher earning social tenants should pay higher social rents. Alex supported this but also argued that we should be selling off the more expensive social housing and building more homes elsewhere – something polling data from report Just Deserts? shows has broad public support.
- How do you define fair?
27 April 2011
The Washington Examiner cites the finding from Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? that the British public considers "fairness" to be based on merit and not equality.
- Limits on council housing in expensive areas backed in public poll
27 April 2011
24dash.com covers the findings from Policy Exchange report Just Deserts?, including the revelation that even the majority social housing tenants believe that people should be offered social housing in expensive areas, or in housing worth more than the local authority average.
- Lost keys
27 April 2011
Inside Housing refers to findings from Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? that 60% of the British public believe that social housing should not be offered in expensive areas.
- Public backs limits to social housing areas
27 April 2011
Inside Housing reports on Policy Exchange's latest publication Just Deserts? quoting author of the report Director Neil O'Brien arguing that the results show the public considers fairness to be about desert, not equality.
- What is fairness? What is poverty? Policy Exchange asks the voters...
26 April 2011
ConservativeHome summarises the key findings from Policy Exchange report Just Deserts?, which examined public attitudes towards fairness, poverty and welfare reform, finding strong support for meritocratic ideas, workfare and the belief that there is a distinction between 'deserving' and 'undeserving' poor.
- Conservatives can win the poverty debate but not if the Big Society is our message
26 April 2011
Writing on ConservativeHome, Tim Montgomerie examines polling conducted on public views on fairness, poverty and welfare for Policy Exchange report Just Deserts?, arguing that the findings show that on many key issues the voters agree with Conservative party instincts.
- Fair's fair
26 April 2011
Inside Housing looks at polling results from Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? showing that the public believe that people should not be offered council houses that are worth more than the average house in their local authority, nor should they be offered council housing in expensive areas.
- Bar on benefits lifted for East European migrants who will be able to claim £250 a week
25 April 2011
The Daily Mail reports the results of a YouGov survey conducted for Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? which shows overwhelming public support for a workfare scheme for the long-term unemployed.
- Welfare handouts aren't fair - and the public knows it
24 April 2011
The Sunday Telegraph reports on findings from polling for Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? that the public believe fairness to be more about getting what you deserve than equality, and that what people deserve is defined by meritocratic, rather than free market or egalitarian, principles.
- Voters want welfare reform
24 April 2011
Policy Exchange's latest report, Just Deserts?, is covered by The Sunday Times which reports its discovery that the majority of voters think that benefits are too high, that the public would support 'workfare' programmes and that they believe most people are in poverty because of forces outside of their control.
- Jobless should work for their benefits, say four in five voters
24 April 2011
Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Patrick Henessy reports on findings from Policy Exchange report Just Deserts? that there is strong support among the public for 'workfare' programmes, along with stronger sanctions for those on out of work benefits who refuse job offers.
- Welfare: no more 'something for nothing'
24 April 2011
A new poll from leading think tank Policy Exchange shows that the public overwhelmingly backs redesigning the welfare system to reward good behaviour and sanction bad. Voters have a strong sense of the deserving and the undeserving poor and also support a cap on child benefits. Exactly two-thirds say that there should be no extra child benefit after the third child. Roughly the same proportion say that the state should discourage people becoming lone parents.
- Welfare-to-work schemes will continue, despite appeal court ruling
13 February 2013
Matthew Oakley, Policy Exchange's Head of Economics & Social Policy, analyses the likely impact of the ruling on the recent Reilly workfare case. Oakley argues that the ruling will have little effect, being based only on a technical issue that will soon be rectified, leaving the government's back-to-work schemes intact.