Benefit figures & fraud - a few home truths Dec 31, 2012 22:35:40 GMT 1
Post by nickd on Dec 31, 2012 22:35:40 GMT 1
Has the coalition now declared war on the working as well as disabled & out of work?
Tax Credit System "wide open to abuse" and "haemorrhaging money"
Today Iain Duncan Smith laid bare his next angle of attack on welfare. In an article in the Daily Telegraph IDS made a brutal attack on the tax credit system introduced by Labour. The Guardian also covered the story which reveals the extent of the claims made by IDS:
More than £10bn of public money has been lost in fraud and error under the tax credit system put in place by Labour, the work and pensions secretary has claimed.
In a scathing attack on the welfare model developed by the last government, Iain Duncan Smith said tax credits were "not fit for purpose" but had been extended ahead of the 2005 and 2010 general elections in a pitch for votes.
The system was "wide open to abuse" and "haemorrhaging money", he wrote in an article for the Daily Telegraph.
"In the years between 2003 and 2010, Labour spent a staggering £171bn on tax credits, contributing to a 60% rise in the welfare bill.
"Far too much of that money was wasted, with fraud and error under Labour costing over £10bn."
Duncan Smith said HM Revenue and Customs conducts checks on far fewer tax credit claims than suspected benefit fraudsters. That is despite about one in 12 tax credit claims being incorrect or fraudulent, compared with fewer than one in 25 benefit claims.
Use the link to read the rest of the story in today's Guardian. I have to say IDS's latest attack is one which completely incensed me, so much so I wrote a few comments of my own in response to IDS's latest attack on the welfare system, you can read my comments here.
What really galls me about how IDS goes about his business is the way he indulges in attaching a culture of blame to anyone but himself. We've had those who are unemployed through no fault of their own being dubbed as shirkers, we've heard all sorts of horrendous stories about the genuinely ill being labelled fakers, we've had endless accounts from IDS about endemic worklessness being caused by a labour rather his own Tory government which in reality was the most culpable when it came to parking 2.6 million on the sick, we've had story after story about Britain on the fiddle despite the actual fraud figures being a fraction of what they are perceived - by media distortion - to be; but IDS's latest attack is the lowest of the low - he's now picking on those who work for sufficiently low wages to entitled to in work benefits.
The Conservatives promote the Telegraph headlines on the Conservative home website along with an extract from the Sun over the number of 'benefit fiddlers' being jailed:
Along with the following comments:
"The number of benefit fiddlers being jailed has HALVED despite a big Government crackdown"
"Official figures show 430 cheats were caged by judges or deported in the past 12 months — compared with 957 last year and 893 in 2010. Fewer than one in four handout fraud cases now leads to a court conviction and only one in 50 ends in a prison term. The failings come despite a massive push to root out benefits cheats, who cost taxpayers more than £1billion a year." - The Sun
When it comes to welfare it's always fraud which is cited as one of the main contributory causes of a rise in expenditure. Yet it's patently obvious that IDS is struggling to find a real evidence base and getting in to difficulty with his beloved Universal Credit. I rather suspect that what's thrown his overly ambitious scheme one step nearer to chaotic implementation is a realisation that transferring millions of tax credit claims over to Universal Credit is going to be far from straightforward when many of the existing claims will be far from reconciled in terms of pre-existing overpayment & underpayments from previous annual awards.
The minute IDS hears the word 'overpayment' he jumps to a conclusion that it will be down to an errant act of fraud on the part of the claimant; he just hasn't got a clue how it all works.
UC impact assessment
To put this in to context you need to look at what IDS is saying in his latest sweeping statement then take a look at the evidence to see whether it matches up with his claims.
An appropriate starting point is to look at the latest fraud & error report and breakdown the all too often spun 'headline' figures: