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Page last updated at 07:58 GMT, Friday, 8 October 2010 08:58 UK

Who deserves benefits?


Should politicians draw a distinction between the deserving and the undeserving poor?

The coalition government has announced a cap on benefits which would prevent payments increasing when families increase beyond a certain size.

Large families are now being demonised by the government, said mother-of-10 Eileen McCoy, who is living on benefits.

"It's going to be my children who are wiping the bottoms... of the people who are making these decisions," she said.

But former Liberal Democrat leader Lord Steel said that, while Mrs McCoy's example was perhaps not a good one, there are people who do not work because of complexities in the benefit system.

"If they can get rid of these anomalies, which make it difficult for people to get out of the benefit system and into work, good luck to them," he said.

However, Will Hutton of the Work Foundation argued that the coalition had not "thought deeply enough about fairness".

"To hit people retrospectively, and without any recognition of their circumstance, is a first order mistake," he said.

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