Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Welfare dependency versus benefit fraud

There's something that's been bothering me when it comes to discussions about welfare reform. Time and time again people talk about (mythical) massive welfare dependency and benefit fraud and use this to argue that we must be ruthless in targeting fraudsters as if that's the same thing as welfare dependency and as if benefit fraud (which already has several benefit fraud task forces and a hotline to report incidences of it) wasn't costing us ten times less than tax evasion.

And I think a major issue here is the way that people conflate people being trapped on benefits, or forced to depend on them due to lack of alternatives, with benefit fraud.

To people doing this I say:

Look, if you want to tackle benefits dependency then what you need is education, careers advice, and all sorts of other support provided for people right from an early age. You might also want to look at ending the situation where the minimum age isn't enough to live on and forces a significant chunk of the population to be in the situation of being in work and also having to claim stuff like housing benefit and working tax credit.

However, this is COMPLETELY different from the issue of actual fraud which is incredibly low at 0.7% (based on very accurate statistical studies conducted periodically by the DWP). You're always going to have some fraud in any system and we have to put up with that.

But fixating on welfare fraud, which is a relatively minor problem, is just a massive distraction from much bigger wastes of money and much bigger costs to the taxpayer elsewhere (such as tax evasion). Additionally, all too often, this fixation focuses mainly on perpetrating myths and promotes a heartless cruelty (as well as a twisted sort of envy) directed at some of the poorest people in society. And the result of it inevitably is that, instead of actually weeding out a vanishingly small number of cheats, you just end up kicking some more vulnerable people out into the cold and patting yourself on the back for a job well done.


  1. I do not understand why this govt are always going on abotu the MASSIVE benefit frauds when it is not true - Are the sheep of this country really believing this hype?

    Cameron and Co are busily wrecking the country and patting themselvs on the back whilst carving up the NHS etc, and I have no idea why. IN true reality they are MAKING this recession we are in. - In that I mean tha the poor people are tightening their belts more and more - Thus we are not spending ANY money on things that we dont need. Thus - the economy is shrinking - double dip recession. Then Cameron attacks again and again and over and over the same things hapen - Companies shut down - moe jobs are lost and thus - MORE people have to sign on etc.
    It is ridiculous to be honest - And this page tells the truth - The govt are making this economy shrink

  2. The problem,as I see it,started with the massive unemployment of the eighties,and we have never returned to under a million unemployed since then.

    When I left school in 1970,everyone I knew walked into a job after leaving school.Hardly any school leaver was unemployed so there was a natural work ethic.Wages were pretty good,nearly everyone that worked did not claim housing benefit.Or indeed any other benefit.

    Then we had the Unemployment is a price worth paying.Unemployment bloomed,wages and conditions fell to the so called market forces in a ever downward spiral.

    These young unemployed youngsters,are branded lazy,but there are few jobs for them.So this government wants to take market forces to the extreme.Workfare.

    Obviously,youngsters seeing their elders and betters,defrauding the system.Like MP,s who fiddle expenses big time,or people like Bob Diamond who gives banking a bad name rewarded with Millions for getting the sack.And these youngsters,understandably,are not keen on workfare.They think its unfair.

    I agree with George,give these youngsters a decent stake in society and they will be just as good as any previous generation.

    Sadly,as far as wealth is concerned,so much is owned by not many,but the Rich top ten per cent.Who,mostly through inherited wealth,believe the poor deserve nothing.

  3. Well as predicted the NHS is to be sold off in chunks - in a way that we wont be able to undo what damage they are doing - These Tories have wreckd so much! And Clegg - Did NOTHING to stop this.

    My kids took 2 years to find a rubbish minimum age job with no view of ever getting up the ladder there used to be. There used to be - start at the bottom and work your way up - Now you get to stay at the bottom permanently. For minimum wage that never goes up.

    So much to look fwd to in life eh

  4. Oh and now THREE YEAR sanctions. How is any person / family supposed to live if you get sanctioned for 3yrs.

    That is ridiculous - This govts plan (as i read somewhere) I read this...

    ''It is the governments euthanasia program, freeze the elderly to death. starve the poor and stress to hell the disabled, once they are all gone then there will only be the rich left to vote for them at the next election.''

  5. So, George, what can we do to FORCE those Party MPs who have a voice in Government to make these issues a priority? I for one am sick and tired of being deemed a legitimate hate-figure just because I have mental health issues which prevent me from working. I am nearly 60 years old and have worked hard all my life until a massive breakdown in 2004/5. I never had time off to have children - and I worked through some very tough times, mentally, until I was finally diagnosed with Bi-Polar 2, Borderline Personality Disorder, Depression and Anxiety. I have had it with being treated as a whipping-boy for decades of Fiscal mismanagement by successive Governments since Margaret Thatcher! This is not my fault and I - and the many thousands like me - should not be carrying the can!

  6. I have serious concerns (yes I just woke up) about this whole issue of govt - HOW can you work FOR a country's best interests when you have your hand in the pie? Ie: How can you work for the best of the NHS when you have your hand in the private healthcare pie - And that by selling off the NHS benefits You personally and makes you richer? - You have a vested interest and shouldnt be allowed!

    How can you work for the best interests of the country - When you or your eton pals have your hands in the pies of so many things - You are only going to be fuelled by greed and you will sell anything that will benefit yourself - and not the country.

    This whole MPs work for us thing is crud. They word for their own greedy selves, and therefore shoudl ALL be ousted and put someone who is IMPARTIAL as in no vested interests - In there - Someone who TRULY wants the BEST for this country and the people in it.

    I am sickened by these greedy people who call poor peopel scroungers while they are stealing every penny the UK has (had)


I'm indebted to Birkdale Focus for the following choice of words:

I am happy to address most contributions, even the drunken ones if they are coherent, but I am not going to engage with negative sniping from those who do not have the guts to add their names or a consistent on-line identity to their comments. Such postings will not be published.

Anonymous comments with a constructive contribution to make to the discussion, even if it is critical will continue to be posted. Libellous comments or remarks I think may be libellous will not be published.

I will also not tolerate personation so please do not add comments in the name of real people unless you are that person. If you do not like these rules then start your own blog.

Oh, and if you persist in repeating yourself despite the fact I have addressed your point I may get bored and reject your comment.

The views expressed in comments are those of the poster, not me.