Sir: Polly Toynbee argues that welfare benefits such as state pensions and child benefit should be cut back because they go to the rich as well as to the poor. This argument misses the point. The object of the welfare state is to bind society together in a common system of services and benefits, not just to relieve the worst misery and leave the better-off free to walk by on the other side of the street.
If we want to be sure the welfare state concentrates help on the poor, we should make sure the rich pay higher taxes to finance benefits for all.
Professor of Social Policy
University of Kent