Cameron Declares War on Benefits Cheats…

All regular fans of Angry Mob will know that Uponnothing, regular writer, editor and host is away on honeymoon. Which is great news for him and Mrs Uponnothing. The really keen amongst you (yes both of you) will know that I occasionally write articles for Angry Mob which I hope are interesting and informative. With the move to the new site, I was granted my own log-in to the blog so I can post whenever and whatever I want… hehe!

The Prime Minister has made a key speech, picked up by all the papers and the wider media on plans to combat the great evil of benefit fraud: You can read the various angles here: Daily Mail The Express The Telegraph.

You may notice that the figure of £5bn keeps coming up. This is an interesting one as this is the figure for fraud and various errors that lead to over-payment. The actual figure for fraud is only £1.1bn.

But we all know that fraud is rampant – because the press keeps telling us about case after case of fraud; a quick search of the Daily Mail website reveals dozens of such stories.

Let us have a look at some of the facts (all of this data comes from the Department for Work and Pensions Official figures 2008-9, last complete set of data.):

Fraud: £1.1bn (0.8%), Customer error: £1.1bn (0.8%),  Official error: £0.8bn (0.6%)

The percentages are of the total benefits budget. So fraud is less than 1% of total benefits spending.

A couple of other interesting statistics worth noting:

  • under-payment due to errors: £1.2bn (i.e. more than fraud)
  • £10bn. The amount of unclaimed benefit that people are entitled to.
  • since 2001, fraud has been reduced from 2.1% of the benefit budget to 0.8% (halved in cash terms)
  • £15.2bn – the estimated loss to the treasury of Tax Evasion.

What’s my point in all this? I am not saying that benefit fraud is acceptable, it’s clearly not. What I am saying is that this is all part of an on-going narrative that paints anyone on benefits as a drain on society and probably a thief. It is cheap political points scoring at the expense of the vulnerable and that is sick. The print media (especially the Daily Mail) are particularly guilty of this.


P.S. A couple of good articles on Liberal Conspiracy about this issue:

Home Westminster Unions Media Activism

Government is “bullying the vulnerable”

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