21 Oct 2010

Benefit fraud is an easy target

My last post was on the cuts yesterday but I also wanted to tackle this issue. Benefit fraud is theft from tax payers. This latest pledge from the Lib Dems and Tory Coalition to tackle the cheats is nothing new. For 40 years, governments have made that pledge to crack down on what Cameron claims is now £5.2bn a year thanks to cheats - and interestingly, “administrative errors”.

View across to Ruscombe fields and Whiteshill from Randwick

Credit-reference agencies will be paid by results. So are we now opening the doors for massive private sector snooping? Will all claimants be placed under spending pattern surveillance, or just certain claimants? Let us not forget that those under investigation will be innocent until proven guilty - a credit checking agency is not - or not yet - an arm of the law.

Some would argue that the welfare system is itself an incitement to fraud? How many of the millionaires in the Cabinet have tried to live on the Jobseekers’ allowance? But yes of course tackle fraud but what we need are promises that real need will be met with real money. How much would it cost to meet the needs of all the proud or poorly advised people who are entitled to benefits and fail to claim?

Benefit fraud is an easy target to focus our anger - yes of course we want to see an end to that but in reality my fear is that we will see an extension of the powers of private companies and further attacks on the more vulnerable members of our community - see here my letter earlier this year about how those on disability benefits look set to be squeezed.

And what about the failure to tackle those dodging tax? See here the recent campaign to try and get the coalition to get the £42bn in 'uncollected' taxes..add in tax avoidance and we hit £100bn per year!!!! See also here my blog on why cleaners are worth more than the city elite.

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