Earlier this year, we published this blog from Richard Exell which looked at the very low levels of benefit fraud.
We’re reposting it today as an alternate view on campaigns against benefits that are running in various newspapers at the moment. The figures show that benefit fraud levels are actually very small.
At the end of Richard’s post, there’s also an extract and video from a post on disability hate crime that we ran in June, in which people with disabilities talk about their experiences of the repercussions of benefit fraud media campaigns. Their feeling was that these campaigns were directly influencing the way people on benefits were being perceived and that people with disabiltiies were being associated with benefit cheating.
“This DWP report on Fraud and Error in the Benefit System really ought to get more coverage.
With this publication we now have figures for the whole of the financial year 2010/11.
They show: 0.8% of benefit spending is overpaid due to fraud, amounting to £1.2 billion, and that this proportion is the same as in 2009/10.
If we look at the estimates for different benefits, they are:
Retirement Pension 0.0%;
Incapacity Benefit 0.3%;
Disability Living Allowance 0.5%;
Council Tax Benefit 1.3%;
Housing Benefit 1.4%;
Pension Credit 1.6%;
Income Support 2.8%;
Jobseeker’s Allowance 3.4%;
Carer’s Allowance 3.9%.
Look at the figures for disability benefits and see how low the figures are. Remember them next time the BBC is running one of its 30 minute hate programmes, pushing the idea that every disabled person on benefits is a fraudster.”
Fraud and Error in the Benefit System: Preliminary 2011/12 Estimates (Great Britain) Revised Edition:
“If you’re unfamiliar with disability hate crime, or perhaps among those who think that reports of it are a sympathy-grab by not-so-disabled people who want to stay on benefits, there is a striking interview a minute into this short documentary which will put you in the picture:
The interview (by disabled filmmaker and activist Karen Sheader) is with Muriel Henderson, a woman with a severe visual impairment who lives with her sister (who has the same visual impairment) in Northumberland. It describes disability hate crime and its escalation, and explains that things got so bad that intervention by a local officer was needed to stop it.
In the film, Muriel describes the appalling attacks, abuse and threats that she and her sister have had to put up with for more than 40 years as they have tried to get on with their lives.
She says that the aggression took the form of name-calling to start, but gradually developed into stone-throwing, gate-smashing, their front door being kicked in and bedroom windows smashed, and the sisters having to add bolts and steel bars to their door to keep thugs out.
Things only improved for Muriel and her sister when a community support officer began to work in their neighbourhood – it seemed that he protected them, simply by being around. “He was a visible presence. Even though he was only a community support officer, he was linked up to the police.”
Muriel Henderson’s is not an uncommon story.
The scene worsens and worsens as the government and the press sharpen the darts – as torrents of Shop a Scrounger and Festering Fakers rubbish push us all to cast a critical eye at Blue Badge holders and adapted-car drivers and anyone who we suspect might be
a) on a disability benefit and
b) moving faster than someone on a disability benefit “should” (however you judge that).”