Sunday, 23 February 2014

UK welfare state gives poor little more purchasing power than the US welfare program

I don't know about you, but I grew up under a belief that the British welfare state protected its population from the worst excesses of poverty, especially hunger, much better than the less caring US state. But the figures now suggest that this just ain't so true anymore. Moreover as hunger stalks major sections of the US population this scourge increasingly penetrates more and more sections of British society. Essentially this means that the poor in the UK will, in terms of per capita welfare spending, only have around 14 per cent less purchasing power than a poor person in the USA. This calculation excludes spending on pensions.

But things are threatening to become a whole lot worse in the UK for the poor. The Conservatives are pledging to roll back welfare budgets by further massive amounts. See George Osborne's 'pledges' on

This means the UK is surging towards a race to the bottom on protecting the poor from starvation with the USA. And things are pretty bad there already. According to Wikmipedia : 'Research from the United States Department of Agriculture found that 14.9% of American households were food insecure during 2011 'By 2011, a survey found that among 20 economies recognized as advanced by the International Monetary Fund and for which comparative rankings for food security were available, the U.S. was joint worst'

Meanwhile, the better off in the UK (and the USA) don't want to pay higher taxes. Do they prefer people to starve?

You arrive at the comparison between US and UK spending if you compare US and UK per capita welfare spending (minus pensions) and convert the British figure into a measure of its actual purchasing power using OECD Purchasing Power Parity data. See links to data tables below. Population figures used to derive per capita figures were based on 2011 estimates of population.

2014 UK spending on welfare items: family and children, unemployment, housing and social exclusion, £81.5 billion, in $PPP equivalent, $117.5, divided by 63.2 million population gives $1860 per person

2014 US spending on welfare items: family and children, unemployment, housing and social exclusion, $497.4 billion, divided by 312 million gives $1594 per person

For an insight into some facts that popular prejudices about welfare spending obscures, see an article in the Guardian:

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