Show Hide image Economy 7 November 2014 People only think welfare should be cut because the coalition is misleading them The public’s appetite for benefits cuts collapses when voters are offered a more accurate measure of “welfare”. Sign up for our weekly email * Print HTML For more stories behind the numbers, explore May2015.com. Should benefits be cut? The coalition has published tax transparency documents which suggest the government spends 25 per cent of taxpayer money on “welfare”. When the public are told this, 4 in 10 voters they think benefits are too high. That is more than think them either about right or too low. This could be used to endorse the Tories’ rumoured plans to cut welfare if re-elected, but the figures have been criticised as disingenuous by the Institute for Fiscal Studies – the authority on every attempt by governments to fudge numbers. They suggest only 6 per cent of spending is on the “unemployed”. This is what we commonly think of as welfare. Indeed, when the public are presented with the IFS’ more detailed figures on “welfare” spending, public support for cutting benefits collapses. When offered the IFS figures, the public are equally divided between whether benefits are too high, too low, or about right. But how do people’s backgrounds shape their views? The most anti-benefits age group isn’t the young or the old, it’s those of ripe working age: the 25-39 year olds. Even when presented with the IFS data, nearly twice as many of these workers think benefits are too high rather than too low. So do the richest – by 37 to 22 per cent, those classed as “ABC1” think benefits are too high. In contrast, C2DE voters go from thinking benefits are too high to too low when handed the government’s and then the IFS’ figures. Finally, men and Tories are unstintingly anti-welfare. So richer Tory men of working age are the least likely to sympathise with those of benefits. That happens to all but fit the profile of the man behind the plans. George Osborne is now 43 and falls just outside the most anti-welfare age bracket, but is still white, wealthier and Tory. Explore May2015.com. › Beat girls and beautiful basslines: Japanese pop of the 1960s May2015 is the New Statesman's new elections site. Explore it for data, interviews and ideas on the general election. Subscribe from just £1 per issue More Related articles Sooner or later, a British university is going to go bankrupt Why I slept on the street outside Downing Street When is the Budget 2017?