Letter: Advantages of universal benefits

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The Independent Online
Sir: Polly Toynbee's unease over universal benefits is understandable but misplaced. Universal benefits are popular, cheap to administer, without stigma, do not create poverty or unemployment traps, are reliable forms of income, and are taken back from those who don't need them through the tax system.

On the other hand, means-tested benefits are unpopular, expensive to administer, carry a substantial stigma, create poverty and unemployment traps, and are unreliable as people's circumstances change.

To increase the coverage of universal benefits would be good for enterprise, good for the economy and good for individual liberty, and the money spent would be well targeted.

Yours faithfully,

MALCOLM TORRY

Citizens Income Study Centre

London, WC2

21 December

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