This reminds me of my first year lectures studying Social Policy at LSE….. there’s an interesting cultural dimension to this. Many European countries target welfare much more effectively through means testing because its more culturally acceptable than the UK. One of the fundamentals questions considered in the 1948 Beveridge Report was what was the right balance between universality and targeted welfare through means testing. So strong was the memory of dreaded means test during the great depression of the 1930s and the scorn around the concept of the ‘deserving poor’ that targeting benefits post war would not have commanded the support of the general public. Compare that to some of our European neighbours where politicans from the left actively campaigned for post war targeted benefit regimes as a way of maxmising their political clout with the poor and less well off. Although we have seen a move away from universality in the UK in the years since the second world war, it’s important to understand the historical and cultural basis for the settlement.