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Page last updated at 09:57 GMT, Thursday, 23 February 2012

Welfare state 'no Garden of Eden'

A YouGov poll for Prospect magazine has found that those questioned overwhelmingly agreed that the government pays out too much in benefits and that welfare levels overall should be reduced.

The Guardian's Polly Toynbee told the Today programme's John Humphrys that as unemployment goes up "the general view that those out of work are scroungers weakens" and that she "expects to see more sympathy" towards the unemployed in the near future.

But former welfare minister Frank Field said that he did not share this confidence and that he did not think that the welfare state could be like a "Garden of Eden" which does not reflect the real world.

He went on to say that nobody in his constituency expressed any horror when benefits were capped at £26,000, and the horror came that this was being allowed in the first place.

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