Government is “bullying the vulnerable”


1:51 pm - August 10th 2010

by Don Paskini    


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David Cameron’s plans to pay private companies to snoop on benefit claimants have been criticised by East London-based charity Community Links:

Government’s latest wearily predictable spate of bullying the most vulnerable in society for cheap political gain – or ‘cracking down on benefit fraud’ as they prefer to call it – is as tiresome and damaging as ever.

As many have already pointed out, the £5.2bn figure being bandied around is for fraud and error, with error (£3.7bn) far outweighing fraud (£1.5bn). Cameron would claim he has said that all along, but his spin has been enough to deceive the Telegraph, who this morning were claiming that “Mr Cameron discloses that £5.2billion of the £87billion welfare budget is lost to fraudulent claims for tax credit and welfare, while administrative error wastes £1.6billion.”

Secondly, the latest figures I have (for 2006/7) show that 6,756 were successfully prosecuted, a further 12,000 were cautioned, 10,000 received an administrative penalty, 95,000 had their benefit changed but weren’t deemed to have done anything serious enough to warrant any kind of sanction, leaving an enormous 196,000 people who experienced a hugely stressful investigation and were found to have done nothing wrong.

We regularly talk to terrified people who are about to be hauled in front of a Jobcentre advisor and quizzed about their claim. Their only source of income is at risk – that five minute interview could mean the difference between scraping by and being plunge into destitution. And they might only be there because a neighbour has fallen out with them and phoned the benefit fraud hotline, or they had a bit of paint on their hands at their last interview. These advisors, don’t forget, are the same people who are supposed to be supporting people into work.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Reader comments


I look forward to private Accountancy companies being paid by the govt on a performance related contract going after rich tax evaders. I especially look forward to the govt giving them the powers to go over their finances in minute detail. Following them across the globe, and looking into their various enterprises with a fine tooth comb.

Oh wait, that would be class war, or something.

2. Luis Enrique

I look forward to private Accountancy companies being paid by the govt on a performance related contract going after rich tax evaders.

yes me too. The Inland Revenue exert quite a bit of effort on that front, but why not allow private investigators to claim rewards for bringing successful prosecutions for tax evasion.

Luis/Sally,

Not a bad idea developing there. It has incentive (both to seek out tax avoidance and not to commit it) and if it doesn’t work, it costs practically nothing.

Only problem is our old friend civil liberties – companies cannot just go obtaining personal or confidential information in the way the tax office can. Would this actually stop it working as planned?

Only problem is our old friend civil liberties – companies cannot just go obtaining personal or confidential information in the way the tax office can. Would this actually stop it working as planned?

Almost all the relevant information should be publically available from Companies House anyway. The difficulty is finding the people to analyse the accounts in the first place – the best way to hide information is in a whole bunch of other information.

5 – referring to companies rather than individuals there obviously…

6. Luis Enrique

6 – maybe paying whistle blowers is an answer


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Government criticised for "bullying the vulnerable" http://bit.ly/aoo2oO

  2. Don Paskini

    RT @libcon: Government criticised for "bullying the vulnerable" http://bit.ly/aoo2oO

  3. Elly M

    RT @libcon: Government criticised for "bullying the vulnerable" http://bit.ly/aoo2oO

  4. Tiffany Stecker

    RT @libcon Government criticised for "bullying the vulnerable" http://bit.ly/aoo2oO

  5. Don Paskini

    @Comm_Links have crossposted your blog to liberal conspiracy http://bit.ly/aoo2oO

  6. Claire Butler

    RT @libcon Government criticised for "bullying the vulnerable" http://bit.ly/aoo2oO

  7. LazarouMonkeyTerror

    RT @libcon Government criticised for “bullying the vulnerable” http://bit.ly/9nyGSV (shower of millionaire bastards!)

  8. Mark Best

    RT @libcon: Government criticised for "bullying the vulnerable" http://bit.ly/aoo2oO

  9. Chris Preston

    It will certainly make a difference to the vast majority of those investigated, who are found to have done nothing wrong: http://is.gd/ebvlQ

  10. Swamp Thang

    RT @libcon: Government criticised for "bullying the vulnerable" http://bit.ly/aoo2oO

  11. David O'Keefe

    RT @libcon: Government criticised for "bullying the vulnerable" http://bit.ly/aoo2oO

  12. Pamela Heywood

    Government is “bullying the vulnerable” http://twurl.nl/h2pra0

  13. ambir

    RT @libcon Government criticised for “bullying the vulnerable” http://bit.ly/9nyGSV





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