That's the question asked by John Harris in a Guardian article last week. He is provoked by the story we reported on that the W2W providers are demanding more and more "sanctions" - wanting to stop the incomes of clients. It's a long and eloquent piece, and he can't understand why people are not more angry about what's happening.
It's not a difficult question to answer. We could start with a story which appeared in the Express last week: "One Scot in 10 would rather skive than get a job". It's a story designed to misinform. It even quotes the odious Taxpayers' Alliance. But the point is that it feeds the belief, in people who know no better, that the welfare system allows the idle to live in comfort on the back of the industrious. Once this would have been seen as far-right propaganda. Now, people have been persuaded that it's true. They see their own insecurity not as the fault of the elites who have messed up the economies of the world in their own greed; they blame the people who are even lower down the ladder than they are.
Many of us know people who believe that there are vast numbers of "scroungers", living comfortably on benefits with no intention of working. They will tell you about families that have all the luxuries you could desire and don't want a job. There is just enough truth in the fiction to turn it into a generality. Never mind that all such families are up to their eyes in debt, or criminally inclined. It's no use telling them that many thousands are desperate for work. How many read such reports as this one in the Yorkshire Post: "Hull: City where 18 people chase every job vacancy". They don't believe it. Write about food charities and they don't believe it.
So cut welfare. The only people who will suffer don't matter. The reason that the government is reluctant to cut benefits for the elderly is that the elderly have an annoying habit of voting. As for the poorest, most of them don't vote, and the calculation is that more people will approve of "cracking down" on scroungers than will have sympathy with the sob stories.
G4S are getting a mauling in the press today. But rely on the BBC and you'd never know that the company has W2W contracts.