Efforts to portray every nearly single benefit claimant as “on the fiddle” stepped up a gear at the weekend with the DWP briefing the media with tabloid-ready “bizarre benefit fraud excuses”, including:

  • “We don’t live together – he just comes each morning to fill his flask.”
  • “I was carrying the ladders for therapy.”
  • “I never noticed my wife going to work.”
  • “He lives in a caravan in the drive.”
  • “It was my twin.”
  • “I didn’t know wife was at work – I’m in the shed.”

After George Osborne was accused by churches of exaggerating the scale of benefit fraud in October 2010, this latest move has led to renewed charges from charities that the government is “using unusual fraud cases to support changes which could have a serious and negative impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of disabled people.”

Perhaps Iain Duncan Smith and his DWP spinners would benefit from some context. The £1.1 billion cost of fraud (a modest 0.7% of the total benefits spend) averages out to £59 across 18.5 million claimants.* In contrast, MPs were ordered to pay back £1.2 million in the wake of Thomas Legg’s inquiry into expenses, an average of £1,858 for the 646 members of the Commons.

Looking for offenders to castigate in press releases, the DWP ministerial team need not look beyond their own ranks: Chris Grayling claimed thousands to renovate a flat in central London – bought with a mortgage funded at taxpayers’ expense – even though his constituency home is less than 17 miles from the House of Commons; Steve Webb claimed for £8,400 in stamp duty after he sold his Westminster flat and bought another just 100 yards down the road.

Can the “quiet man” please turn down the volume on these smears?

*5.7 million working age claimants plus 12.8 million pension age claimants. Source: DWP Quarterly Statistics Summary

  1. Glen Shakepeare says:

    Very strange then that when I emailed IDS with reference to a problem I was having with DVLA that is still keeping me out of work I didn’t even get a reply.

  2. Well yeah, but its still £1.1 Billion benefits fraud v £1.2 Million expenses fraud, no matter which way you try and spin it. Stick em all in gaol.

    Great IDS photo btw ‘RAAAASSSSSSPPPPP!!!!!!1!’

  3. matthew fox says:

    Tax evasion costs £15 Billion a year, and all we get is pathetic Right Wing smokescreens.

  4. Freemason Brother Keith Exford (CEO, Affinity Sutton Homes Group) paid himself £274,000 out of Housing Benefit in 2009/10. If that is not an abuse of Housing Benefit, what is?

    http://tinyurl.com/3psmzac

    (scroll towards the bottom).

  5. I’ve been saying this for years, yet no one seems to listen. People buy into what the mainstream media drip feed them – it’s easier to villify benefit cheats and not people like Philip Green for tax dodging.

  6. “it’s easier to villify benefit cheats and not people like Philip Green for tax dodging.”

    Could that be because one is breaking the law and the other isn’t? Take a stab at guessing which is which.

    “Tax evasion costs £15 Billion a year, and all we get is pathetic Right Wing smokescreens.”

    I suspect you may have your figures confused. “Tax Fraud” costs an estimated £15 Billion a year, £7 Billion of that being tax evasion, (see link below). The “pathetic Right Wing smokescreens” comment also ignores the fact that tax evasion is illegal and regularly prosecuted.

    http://citywire.co.uk/new-model-adviser/tax-evasion-costs-uk-7-billion-a-year/a466567

  7. Erm…. fair enough. But this actually shows that MPs expenses ordered to be paid back is around 0.1% of the cost of benefit fraud per year as a whole… looking at it on a case by case basis is pointless. It’s not like there are thousands or even tens of thousands of MPs all claiming more than they should.

  8. matthew fox says:

    @ Falco

    Looks like it back to drawing board, in 2009, 157 people where convicted of Tax Evasion.

    That amounts to 3 convictions a week, whereas convictions for benefit fraud run into the thousands.

    What Falco doesn’t mention, is that the HMRC offers amnesties to tax cheats.

    Between 2007 and 2010, the Government spent before VAT, £17.5 Million on advertising tackling Benefit Fraud. I bet George Osborne spent more money on monocles then the Government spends on advertising that tackles tax fraud.

    The next time you want to contribute Falco, it might help if you actually did some real research.

  9. Fraud is fraud. And the simple fact remains that tax evasion and avoidance and other “loops holes” and all of that, dwarf benefit fraud!

  10. This nasty little bit of bile is worthy of the Weimar Republic. Shame on those who defend tax avoiders and evaders while battering those who have very little. Typical Tories . Mind you I didn’t have to pretend I have a degree, work makes you free IDS did.

  11. They need to create more jobs and raise the minimum wage to something that people can actually live off then people won’t have to abuse the benefits system to survive

  12. THE REAL BENEFIT THIEVES MPs’ expenses: £3.2m bill for first two months of 2011

    MPs were paid more than £3.2 million of taxpayer-funded expenses in the first two months of this year – and have racked up £880,000 on official payment cards EXAMPLE GEORGE OSBORNE MORTGAGE £1458 PER MONTH FOOD £200 PER MONTH CLEANING AVR £200 PER MONTH

  13. THE REAL BENEFIT THIEVES MPs’ expenses: £3.2m bill for first two months of 2011

    MPs were paid more than £3.2 million of taxpayer-funded expenses in the first two months of this year – and have racked up £880,000 on official payment cards EXAMPLE GEORGE OSBORNE MORTGAGE £1458 PER MONTH FOOD £200 PER MONTH CLEANING AVR £200 PER MONTH

  14. Vast majority of claimants are honest , many of them disabled. And this fascist government are using them as a scapegoat allowing the greedy rich to get away with tax evasion !!

  15. One law for them ? How are we allowing this to continue when people are dying,they are in food queues,they are homeless,they are jobless,they are minus services for carers and their loved ones,they unable to access mental health services, day centres are closing all over Britain,transport is being cut for those with learning disabilities,education cuts to students,grants removed,concessions in colleges removed,fees INTRODUCED to be educated! So what will be left of the UK after all this condem leadership? A third world country with a narrow band of wealthy slave drivers gorging on society’s suffering to bloat their coffers like the characters in so many of Dicken’s novels?

  16. Benefit fraud figures, on top of everything else are vastly overstated. For example, If a claimant fills out the paperwork in such a way as to recieve an extra £15 for sickness on top of their £65 weekly, then for some reason doesn’t tell the DWP that they should be no longer entitled to the extra £15, then the ammount considered to have been claimed fraudulently will be the £65 plus the £15 plus possibly £100 for the individuals housing benefit, not just the £15 So it could be said thatbenefit fraud is overstated by a factor of between ten and thirty times.

  17. On top of the victimization of benefit receivers, the pm is chopping housing benefits on the one hand, and yet sneaking thru laws to illegalize squating on the other! And of cours that sensationalist manipulativ strip of toilet paper known as The Sun had a feature around a week ago attacking labour for not discipling a laboup mp who was campaigning against the proposed law change! Wtf! I am rather disgusted and disheartened by both the lack of public debate on this issue, and too by how little is known of any campaign to tackle the attempted law change, which has always been a fave target for tories. Their usual tactic of seperating us all into minority interest groups hasnt changed. And their other fave, to dehumanize and demonize those who cant fight back. The tories havnt and will never change. P.s. Privatize lady thatchers funeral!

  18. Its easier to blame the commoners and tarnish every single one us with this brush that makes claiming benefits a shameful thing to do. What pees me off is that just because someone claims something from the government (and rightly so imo) its automatically dodgy. Green, Branson and other loaded individuals cannot be compared to state handouts no matter how hard they try and justify it. Its sick.

  19. Just 10 of many excuses:

    1. Ben Chapman on over claiming £15,000 on his mortgage: “It is clear that I was mislead by the fees office into the arrangement in question”
    2. Bill Wiggin on claiming claimed £11,000 in phantom mortgage payments : “I think people need to realise we are but human”
    3. Anthony Steen on spending tens of thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money on his million-pound country home: “I’ve done nothing criminal, that’s the most awful thing, and do you know what it’s about? Jealousy. I’ve got a very, very large house. Some people say it looks like Balmoral. It’s a merchant’s house of the 19th century. It’s not particularly attractive, it just does me nicely”
    4. Stewart Jackson on why he claimed for maintenance of his swimming pool: “The pool came with the house and I needed to know how to run it. Once I was shown that one time, there were no more claims. I take care of the pool myself. I believe this represents ‘value for money’ for the taxpayer.”
    5. Lord Mandelson, Business Secretary, who decorated his house after announcing he would stand down as an MP: “The fact is that these allowances would not have been paid if they weren’t within the rules.”
    6. Jack Straw, Justice Secretary, who claimed for double the amount of council tax he had paid: “This, if I may say so, is the kind of thing that might happen not just to Members of Parliament. It is an error, which obviously I wish hadn’t happened, but in circumstances in which I was incredibly busy during that period – that is not an excuse, it is just an explanation.
    7. Douglas Hogg on why he was repaying the cost of maintaining his moat when he had insisted he had never claimed it in the first place: “I recognise that the clearing of the moat was not positively excluded from the claim.”
    8. Margaret Moran, backbench Labour MP for Luton who claimed for dry rot treatment at the Southampton home where her husband is based: “I have to have a proper family life and I can’t do that unless I share the costs of the Southampton home with him. Any MP has to have a proper family life, they have to have support of their partner. I defy anybody to try and do a proper job, much less an incredibly pressured job, in which you work all hours, in the constituency, in Westminster and incredible pressure all the time.”
    9. John Gummer, former Conservative agriculture minister who claimed for a mole catcher: “I have only ever claimed the relevant proportion of the costs of necessary maintenance and repairs of an old rural property.”
    10. Andrew George, Liberal Democrat MP, who claimed for a flat which his daughter stayed in: “A third of the flat’s cost was paid directly by me without taxpayer support. Is The Telegraph suggesting that my family should not be able to visit me in London?”

  20. Malcolm Ritchie says:

    “Tax evasion costs £15 Billion a year, ……….” no – tax evasion and tax avoidance cost us £150 Billion a year!! Equivalent to our annual Education, NHS and Defence Budget. But the Union Flag be-draped patriots at the heart of it will still look to the benefits cheats as being the drain on resources. Bastards!!

  21. Well. the adidge: Power corrupts, total power total corruption! Speaks volumes for Parliament really!

  22. So-So,
    Its still £1.1 billion benefits fraud versus an estimated £90 billion tax evasion fraud by the nation’s wealthiest, through various loopholes either legal or illegal. No matter which way you try and spin it, stick em all in jail I say.

  23. The fact is that the benefit fraud figures are overstated because they include official errors. Every time the DWP makes a mistake resulting in an overpayment, it’s counted as a FRAUD.

    How’s that for a bizarre excuse, IDS?

    Trouble is, this post only highlights the cause of the problem. The majority of MPs fiddled their expenses, got caught out and ordered to repay.

    They judge benefit claimants by their own miserable standards.

  24. Using IDS’ logic, we should audit them weekly, using a company paid only based on the amount of expenses found to be fraudulent.

  25. you know, the day WILL come when finally MONEY will become so worthless we’ll all learn to live without it and lead simpler lives, yeah i know sounds like dream, but unless somthing gives soon a much WORSE version of this IS going to happen, there’s allot more tax payers money going somwhere, and it certainly isant all to do with benefits fraud or otherwise.
    The Governments up to somthing, i lost my faith in them a while back and i certainly don’t swollow most of the B———it they try and force down our throats.

  26. calls for a public partition to then be sent to the government adding pressure on them to back off on people on welfare. i mean come on it’s just getting to the point of pure nastiness and bullying. here is a message for you Mr Ozz born. just leave us alone.

  27. I’ve seen that “list of excuses” published in the paper before… several years ago… it’s an old one they just dig out.. can’t be that bad, or they’d come out with some new actual recent ones…. If they have to resort to recopying this kind of thing from several years back, makes you wonder if the DWP and papers just made them up themselves.

  28. I agree fraud is still fraud, so let’s target the fraud. To apply this approach to MP expenses – there would be a smear campaign branding all MPs as self-serving, on-the-fiddle criminals. They would be subjected to a range of swingeing cuts, meaning that they would need to begin choosing between eating or feeding their own kids, they would be forced into paying extra for the homes that they live in, despite there being no alternative suitable accommodation available.
    Further to that, they would be held responsible by proxy for every hideous crime in the country. It would be like this except unfairly so.

    The difference would be that this treatment of MPs would perhaps be justified, given that they are all in the trough together, as opposed to the morally reprehensible treatment of those who simply have the misfortune to need the help of the system right now.

  29. I was not allowed to work for more than six and a half years local authority sectioned me many times druged me without my consent with dangerous drugs to damage my brain and to form illness scizofrnia.
    Now they telling me I was on benefit that was fraud. Government themselves are doing frauds by applying for benefits pretending to live in different addresses.
    Leave people to work do not mess up with people’s life.

  30. Bill Tomlinson says:

    Earlier today Amanda Webber was sentenced to 4 years in jail for fraudulently claiming £350,000 in benefits. I’m not about to defend her clearly criminal actions but, in the interests of fairness and justice, George Osborne should also be put in the dock for [EDIT] claimed something like £100,000 on MP’s expenses to buy a horse paddock which was attached to his house. He didn’t need the paddock to carry out his duties as an MP (which is what their expenses are meant to cover), didn’t even own a horse and doubled his – actually OUR – money when he sold the property on.

    “We’re all in it together” they keep telling us and yet it seems that a different set of rules apply to pampered, silver-spoon toffs who can always rely on wealth, privilege and family connections to evade prosecution for their crimes against society.

  31. So when Mr Cameron gets up in a morning, still wandering around in his PJ’s and dressing gown, whilst real Men are setting off to be Hard Working Families, does Am Cam take the kids to Nurseries they cant afford, or pay for a car and fuel that is eating away at their ability to feed themsleves, does Mr Cameron or any his Cabinet, or anyone in Parliament suffer this problem, are they unemployed with NO Future, having to go to Food Banks to feed themsleves and their family? No, I think not ! .. …. Did anyone tell these Twats they are building up sufficient resentment to cause a Revolution… and it is coming, soon. Be afraid, very afraid – The English Spring is nearly here!

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