Will the public support conditional welfare?

Today in The Australian my CIS colleague Peter Saunders comes out in favour of ‘conditional welfare’, in which some welfare payments for parents deemed irresponsible or incompetent are restricted, so that they can only be spent on items the government deems appropriate.

So far as I am aware, this is not an idea that has been directly tested in an opinion poll. But based on answers to other questions we can take an educated guess as to what the public might say if asked.

Most of the people to whom conditional welfare would apply would presumably be on unemployment or single parent benefits, two groups which have not inspired enthusiasm among Australian voters. For example, a 2001 Saulwick poll asked about benefit levels for various beneficiary groups. Majorities supported higher payments for those who could not reasonably expected to work, the aged and disabled. But only 22% wanted more for single parents, and only 17% for the unemployed.

Both groups, perhaps, are seen as vulnerable to the moral hazards of welfare. Continue reading “Will the public support conditional welfare?”