Wednesday, March 26, 2008

THE REAL BENEFITS SCANDAL

For as long as I can remember there has been a 'Benefits Scandal' a 'Social Security Scroungers Scandal' beloved by right wing newspapers and reactionary right wing politicians.

Remember the odious Tory Peter Lilley at Tory Conference paraphrasing Gilbert & Sullivan's song from the Mikado 'I've got a little list, none of whom would be missed'
These included young girls who "get pregnant to get a council house" and people on incapacity benefit who "should be working"
All of it with no proof but on he went with his fantasy which the Tory faithful loved and cheered, it was ever thus, disgraceful.

The Dept. of Work & Pensions have admitted that up to £9 Billion a year of benefits are not being taken up and, they have also admitted that they won't pursue take-up targets, as it wouldn't be "value for money".
That is a scandal of huge proportions and someone should be considering their position, the DWP minister surely.

A single benefit fraudster caught playing golf while claiming incapacity benefit can make the front page of the gutter press while tens of thousands of people are missing out on benefits to which they are entitled, the disabled, the elderly, the chronically ill, all missing out on what is rightfully theirs.
People like my parents and their generation did not like claiming because they could 'get by' and because the system is so complicated, despite working all their days and paying their dues.
This Govt. this Labour Govt. tolerates this, even worse, while knowing it's going on it has set it's face against doing anything to rectify it.

That's the real benefits scandal, instead of pouring so much money into catching the ones who abuse the system, this far bigger problem should be tackled, benefit fraud is serious and has to be stopped but, those who are in need and are entitled to benefits who aren't getting them are a much more pressing priority, it's a question of decency and doing the right thing.

27 comments:

Anonymous said...

If people do not wish to claim benefits for whatever reason the that is a matter of choice.

It's also down to an individual, if they are in need, to find out what help and benefits are available and to go through the appropriate channels to claim for them if they are entitled.

That is in the normal world.

In Terryworld, however, the benefits truck would drive into Feegie each day distributing parcels of banknotes indiscriminately.

Lucy said...

Spot on! This government have blown a real opportunity to simplify and reform the benefits system in pursuit of a get tough image. It's maddening but they'd pay more attention to a Sun editorial than anyone with a working knowledge of the system and it's problems.

There's no denying benefit fraudsters exist. The majority in my experience used to be people doing a bit of casual work when signing on etc. The introduction of tax credits has gone some way to reducing this though I'd be much happier with a less complicated solution.

Those who are out and out dishonest fraudsters are far too grasping and sneaky to be put off by a few extra rules. They're quite happy to flit from benefit to benefit whenever they spot a hole in the system.

The third main category of 'fraudster' is believe it or not pensioners, though this results from genuine confusion at being faced with an over complicated system rather than any intention to deceive. Not that this stops them being subjected to distressing tape recorded interviews which only waste time, cause panic in vulnerable people and never result in prosecution because it's self evident that it's a muddle not a fiddle.

We don't really know what the figures for deliberate fraud are given that they are usually lumped in with DWP errors, not that you'd get that from the headlines.

We also never hear about the cost of benefit appeals. A combination f bad quality decision making by DWP staff and even worse quality of DWP doctors medical assessment. This leads to a great many genuine claimants being refused benefit and also lets the skilled fraudster swan through the system with full benefit.

75% of Incapacity Benefit and Disability Living Allowance refusals which go to appeal are then awarded.

The appeals tribunal is made up of a doctor a lawyer and a layperson with some knowledge or experience of disability. All of these people are paid out of public money to attend. It doesn't seem cost efficient to me.

Then of course there is as you say the £9billion unclaimed. This also strikes me as wasteful. The money has already been allocated there is no saving to be made in leaving it sitting there doing nothing. It would be better out in the economy being spent and of course helping people who really could do with it.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 16:35
If it’s good enough for the benefit fraudsters in Buckingham Palace it’s good enough for |Ferguslie.

Are you a Butlins Redcoat by any chance ?

RedWing said...

This is not a "scandal" the government is "not handling" it is a "scandal" of their own making.

The entire system was transformed in 1997 with the express intention of making it hard to claim.

The tax system was changed so that instead of the IR taking less in tax you had to ask for your money back. This has lead to under claiming - the same scandal you have highlighted. This change has saved the government billions in under claiming and their own figures show that if everyone claimed everything they were entitled to under the law Whitehall would be in a lot of trouble.

Anonymous said...

I suspect the reason you and Lucy are in agreement is because you are both out-of-work socialists with nothing better to do than post comments on blogs like this one.

Anonymous said...

Better find out about how to claim all the benefits to which you are entitled Councillor PotKettleBlack, you're going to need them after you get voted out.

Jack McGurk said...

"If it’s good enough for the benefit fraudsters in Buckingham Palace it’s good enough for |Ferguslie."

Typical "politics of envy" comments from an odious little communist

Anonymous said...

Perhaps someone like a Labour councillor, and maybe even your pal TW should be employed to inform people in what they are entitled to claim and also how to claim what they are not entitled to.

Nick said...

What do you think of the idea of upping the amount of untaxed income the individual enjoys?

Some people argue it would lower the overall cost of benefits by making low earners less reliant on the state for their income (they wouldn't lose it in tax and then have to reclaim it through the DWP) and by reducing wastage in the system by streamlining it and lowering the cost of the attendent bureaucracy.

This, so the argument goes, would then allow departmental spend to be used to specifically help the very disadvantaged.

Any thoughts?

I'm not sure if Blogger has logged me in, so here I am: Nick

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

redwing -

This makes no sense, this has been going on all of my life time.

Were you born in 1997 or what ?

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 26/03/08

And what’s your excuse ?

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 09:19

Following today’s revelations I think I will contact wee Alex (the spiv) for advice.

£20 K for a day’s work ! You have got to hand it to him, be fair, come on now, the others are just playing at it.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Jack McGurk) 09:21

No argument then, another win for me.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 12:53

How about wee Alex ( the spiv ) setting up an advisory agency, £20k a day that’s impressive even by Arthur Daly’s standards

“ a nice little earner Alex my son”

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Nick) 17:33

There could be merit in this, I’m not an expert but we have people who would still need benefits if they were not taxed at all, some jobs are that badly paid and costs are high.

You would have to raise the minimum wage to make sure that everyone is earning enough to survive without benefits.

A ceiling would be required so that anyone over a certain level e.g. the rich continue to pay tax.

Jack McGurk said...

"No argument then, another win for me"

I didn't realise arguments were about winning or losing. Is this a new socialist sport?

Anonymous said...

Would you not agree that the bigger problem is the massive legal fraud committed by many of our so called MP's and other elected officials.

The recent tales of expenses, attempts to cover up on the part of Mp's, use of slush funds/policy forums by Mr Hain, dubious backhanders off non residents and so on and so forth.

Oh and could I mention a certain Wendy Alexander here who also had her paw in the cookie jar...

All of which blows the figures of benefit fraud (by claimants rather than officials) out of the water.

Falco said...

Terry, I don't think that raising the minimum wage is the answer, (no, not because I want people to be poor but because the higher the minimum wage the more people are made unemployable).

I do believe that it would be far more sensible to raise the income tax bands to take the low waged out of the system altogher, (with tax credits those taking low paid jobs and having their benefits cut as a result face insanely high marginal tax rates).

What are your thoughts on the citizen's basic income idea?

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Anonymous) 28/03/08

“the bigger problem is the massive legal fraud committed by many of our so called MP's and other elected officials” no I don’t agree.

“All of which blows the figures of benefit fraud (by claimants rather than officials) out of the water”

No it doesn’t, you might wish that it did but you are not the judge and jury.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Falco) 28/03/08

“the higher the minimum wage the more people are made unemployable”

We have been hearing that since the minimum wage was introduced and it hasn’t happened.

I think that we should tax people realistically and in that way we can redistribute wealth but we need to be bold and be prepared for the onslaught from vested interests.

I’m not a tax expert but, the CBI is certainly worth investigating, it seems similar to the minimum wage albeit paid for differently i.e. by the state rather than the individual employer.

Macnasty said...

The real Benefits scandal is that it's the claimants who are keeping Labour in power.

Discuss.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Macnasty) 14:49

Led by the Royal Family of course.

Macnasty said...

Kelly @ 3.11

Hells teeth, Kelly - you go too far.
You've published many foul slanders about H.M. and family, but keeping Labour in power......

Jeeves, fetch the horsewhip.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Macnasty) 18:00

Credit where it’s due they haven’t survived on massive benefits all this time without a certain amount of rat like cunning.

lucy said...

Sorry to disappoint you anon but I'm very much employed. I work part-time in a paid capacity for a profit making employer and the rest of the time is spent chasing contracts for my profit making freelance work.

I'm not a socialist either but a social democrat.

I have never been out of work nor have I ever claimed any benefits. In fact I even paid my own costs through uni as a mature student.

I just accept that not everyone else is able to do the same, I really don't see how any of the above makes me a socialist. I've paid plenty tax in my life and feel I'm entitled to an opinion on how it is spent.

Jack McGurk said...

"...they haven’t survived on massive benefits all this time without a certain amount of rat like cunning"

You had better hone up on your rat like cunning skills Councillor. Pretty soon the only exercise you will be getting will be bending down to pick the giro up off the doormat.

Cllr Terry Kelly said...

(Jack McGurk) 12:19

I take it you agree with my assessment then.