The comparative costs
of things, etc. [These stats were compiled
in 2005, but little has changed]. Contrary to
media fallacy, "benefits cheats" are
insignificant to overall picture.
On this page:
Military spending >
Corporate welfare >
Tax avoidance/fraud >
Long working hours >
Death by work >
Work is no cure for poverty
Causes of death >
Falling disease threat >
Low crime threat >
Low terrorism threat >
Britain is a long way behind America in
military spending, but still one of the five
biggest military spenders:
Annual military budget (US$ billions)
The development cost for just one fighter jet
(the US F-22) was $63 billion, more than enough
to eliminate global starvation, according to
figures quoted by Unesco.
for Defense Information, 2003).
The annual cost of welfare in Britain is
about £100 billion. The tabloid media
blame this high cost on the "workshy",
but most of it goes on pensions:
Annual cost (£ billions)
Job Seekers Allowance: 2.3
Housing benefit: 4.1
Income Support: 6.5
Child benefit: 8.8
Benefits for disabled: 10.8
Contribution-based pensions: 42.1
(Smaller costs include
winter fuel payments for the elderly, at £1.7bn,
etc. Source: Department for Work and Pensions,
America spends $175 billion per year on
corporate welfare. Much of it takes the form
of tax breaks:
Corporate tax welfare 1996-2000
General Electric: 12
General Motors: 3.6
(British businesses also
receive billions in welfare handouts
from the Department for Trade and Industry.
The DTI is basically a corporate dole office.
Source for tax welfare figures: Citizens
for Tax Justice)
Tax avoidance & fraud
When it comes to swindling, "dole cheats"
aren't the biggest drain on the UK economy:
Estimated annual cost (£ billions):
Corporate tax avoidance: 85
Business fraud: 14
Government fraud in Whitehall: 5
Tobacco smuggling: 3.5
VAT fraud on mobile phones: 2.5
Total welfare fraud: 2
Jobseekers Allowance fraud: 0.19
Bulldozer smuggling: 0.15
Guardian, 12/4/02; BBC Radio 4, 'Today', 23/8/01;
BBC Radio 4 News, 1996; Guardian 17/12/99; BBC
Radio 4, 'Today', 3/7/03; DWP, 2003; The Informal
Economy, by Lord Grabiner, March 2000; Guardian,
Long Working hours
Working hours have risen in the last
20 years, on average, for UK full-time workers.
This reverses a 150-year trend of declining
UK government research shows 1 in 6
people working more than 60 hours per week.
Each year workers are giving £23
billion in free labour to their bosses, due
to unpaid overtime.
(Sources: UK Labour Force
Survey, 1999; Guardian, 30 Aug 2002; Press Association,
Feb 26 2004)
Death by Work
People with stressful jobs are twice
as likely to die from heart disease, according
to a 2002 study in the British Medical Journal.
Long-term job strain is worse for your
heart than gaining 40lbs in weight or ageing
30 years, according to a 2003 US study.
Going into work when you feel ill (taking
no sick leave) doubles the risk of heart disease
for 35%-40% of the population.
Work kills more than war. Approximately
two million workers die annually due to occupational
injuries and illnesses, according to a United
Nations report. This is more than double the
figure for deaths from warfare (650,000 deaths
per year). Work kills more people than alcohol
and drugs together.
(Sources: British Medical
Journal, 19 Oct 2002; American Journal of Epidemiology,
2003; BBC2, The Money Programme, 1 Dec 2004;
UN ILO SafeWork programme, April 2002)
Work is no cure for
The number of people in work is at "record
levels" according to the UK government.
Meanwhile, official UK figures show 22% of people
living in poverty, compared to 13% in 1979.
47% of employees have wages that, on
their own, are insufficient to avoid poverty.
42% of employees rely on means other than their
own wages to avoid poverty.
In the 1970s and 1980s, around 4% of
low-paid employees lived in poverty. Currently,
14% of low-paid employees live in poverty. (5%
of all employees now live in poverty).
Since the early 1970s GDP (national
income) has doubled, but in real terms (ie allowing
for inflation) the bottom 10% of jobs pay less
now than in 1970. The minimum wage would have
to be around £6.50 per hour to bring low-pay
up to the 1970 level.
DWP press release, Nov 2004; poverty.org.uk;
Rowntree Foundation study, Nov 2004; Guardian,
14 Jun 2002)
Causes of death
Following figures for England & Wales,
2002 - from the Office for National Statistics.
Total deaths (all causes): 535,356
Deaths from heart disease/stroke: 209,948
Deaths from cancer: 140,453
Deaths from pneumonia: 32,769
Deaths from HIV disease: 197
Total deaths by accident: 10,714
Deaths by transport related accident:
Deaths by accidental falls: 2,511
Deaths by accidental poisoning: 1,648
Total deaths by suicide/intentional self-harm:
Total deaths by assault: 385
Deaths by "rifle, shotgun or large
Deaths by "other/unspecified firearm":
Deaths by "sharp object": 118
Deaths by "hanging, strangulation
and suffocation": 34
Falling disease threat
A century ago there were 20 times as
many deaths from sexually transmitted diseases.
In the middle ages there were 130 times
as many deaths from infectious diseases.
(Source: Equinox, Channel
4, 13 April 1999)
Low crime threat
The risk of becoming a victim of crime
is at an historic low, according to the authoritative
The murder rate in Britain today is
roughly the same as in the mid-19th century.
For every one person murdered today,
ten were murdered in the middle ages.
One in three elderly women feels "very
unsafe", but fewer than one in 4,000 will
The number of children murdered by strangers
(in Britain) averages below 10 a year.
The chances of a child aged 1-4 being
killed by a stranger are less than one in a
million, and have fallen by a third since 1988.
Independent, 25 Sept 1996; Equinox, Channel
4, 13 April 1999; Times, 11 Sept 1996; Guardian,
2 Aug 1999)
See also our Crime
Fixation page >
Low terrorism threat
US State Department figures show that terrorism
is at its lowest level in 35 years. Don't
take our word for it:
(see the "Year in review" section)
(7.4MB PDF file)
(Their first graph in the "Year in
Review" section shows the total number
of international terrorist attacks to be at
its lowest since 1982. The second graph shows
number of attacks by region. For all regions
except the Middle East, there were less terrorist
attacks in 2003 than in 1999).