The public’s opinions of those who claim benefits has improved as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research.
The virus has led to so many people struggling financially, due to businesses folding, redundancies and workers being furloughed, who had not struggled before that claiming benefits no longer carries the negative connotations it once did, the poll suggests.
Six in 10 adults say the pandemic has shown that claiming benefits is nothing to be embarrassed about. However, more than 40 per cent of people said that before the pandemic, they would have felt – or did feel – embarrassed by the thought of claiming benefits.
The Trussell Trust, who carried out the poll as part of its Hunger Free Future campaign, said the pandemic had led to a change in perception, which provides a “unique opportunity to challenge the norm”.
“The last 12 months have been hard for everyone – with many finding themselves weaker financially,” said a spokesperson for the Trust.
“But perhaps the universal impact of the pandemic has shown how the unexpected can hit any of us, and how much we need change.”
The poll also showed that more than 70 per cent of people agreed it’s not right that anyone in a country as rich as the UK should need to use a charity for food.
The study also found that 38 per cent of adults viewed people claiming benefits in a negative light prior to the pandemic, while 35 per cent admitted they had at some point criticised someone for claiming benefits.
According to the poll, 37 per cent revealed they would have kept or did keep the fact they needed the welfare system a secret.
However, this may have now changed, as 52 per cent believe the pandemic has made people in the UK generally more sympathetic to people who claim benefits.
After a challenging 12 months, 38 per cent of people also think the nation will be a more compassionate place a year from now.
Picture: A woman wearing a face mask checks the opening times of a Job Centre.