Minister apologises over benefit fraud claims


11:43 am - January 20th 2011

by Don Paskini    


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Lord Freud, government minister for welfare reform, has written to the Methodist Church to apologise after an “inadvertent” error meant that a government report claimed that benefit fraud cost the taxpayer £5.2 billion.

An alliance of church leaders had written to complain about the way that government rhetoric stigmatises the poor, and specifically about inaccurate claims by government ministers – including George Osborne and Iain Duncan Smith – that benefit fraud cost more than £5 billion.

Freud acknowledged that

the government recognises that the vast majority of benefit recipients are genuinely entitled to the financial support they receive

He also thanked them for

drawing my attention to the incidences, including in the Ministerial foreword to the strategy document, where the £5.2 billion has been quoted as representing fraud along instead of fraud and error…I apologise for the concern this has caused, and I have asked my officials to take corrective action.

Freud claims that he is satisfied that the numerous inaccuracies over the level of benefit fraud, for example in the Chancellor’s budget statement and in official welfare reform strategies, were “entirely inadvertent” and “not intended to mislead”.

It does, however, fit a pattern of DWP ministers making inaccurate claims to support their arguments, such as when Iain Duncan Smith claimed that statistics about housing benefit came from the Office of National Statistics, when in fact they came from a property website owned by the Daily Mail.

There are also “serious deficiencies” in the way that the DWP uses statistics.

Lord Freud states he has “asked his officials to take corrective action”. Has anyone heard public announcements correcting and explaining the figures? Have governmental websites been modified?

It is gracious indeed to recognise mistakes, it is however wiser to make amends.

Sunny adds: More importantly, why isn’t George Osborne apologising for this mistake and for misleading the House of Commons? He was also sharply criticised by Peter Oborne at the Telegraph over this issue.

But it seems Osborne doesn’t like saying sorry and has to get others to do it for him.

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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


“As Rev Iain Galloway notes, “an apology was issued to Church representatives; however who has apologised to the thousands whose integrity was questioned?”

And who were they, pray, since the figure does not actually accuse anyone of fraud, merely ascribes a higher value to the activities of those committing fraud. It takes a certain sort of mind to assume that an accusation of fraud applies to those who have done nothing wrong when no-one has said this…

2. Saleem Hassan

It’s all too well pointing the finger at the average plebeian and accusing her of scamming the system.

How about Lord Fraud and his motley crew claiming thousands of pounds for private fish ponds and the like? Then they have the audacity to say they didn’t do anything wrong and some going as far as pleading ignorance!

What about companies such as Vodafone and HSBC?!

(Note: No association between Lord Freud and Lord Fraud)

Sorry is not good enough because the Tories were deliberately targeting and Discriminating against the less fortunate people in society to justify making ruthless cutbacks. The Tories also realised that the less fortunate in society do not have a voice and an easy target as they have their hands on the purse strings.

People in Government should be before a court of Law facing charges of Discrimination and not allowed to use that ever famous deceitful Loophole of saying ” Sorry Mistake/Misunderstanding or Administration Error” this was obvious Discrimination at it’s worse and these people in Government should not be allowed to get away with it because it is Evil and Disceitful and inexcusable.

The Clever, Evil, Deceitful Psychological Mind Games must be stopped and those responsible must be brought before the courts and punished with the full force of the law. There can be no excuses for this type Discriminatory Deceit.

Mr Grunt,

I hate to mention this, but ‘discrimination’ is not a criminal offence – you need to show someone has been discriminated against under a particular act.

So I’m guessing you were just engaging in enjoyable hyperbole?

Go to any health centre and people will agree that the sick and disabled along with the unemployed have been singled out and labelled as scroungers and other equally discriminatory comments. Even the ordinary person in the street will agree that the unemployed have been Slandered by mainly the Tories in this so called Coalition.

The Unemployed, Sick and Disabled have a case for being Slandered / Deformation ( Culumny ) and I sincerely hope that someone picks up on this and this so called Coalition Government will end up in court.

I wished that David Cameron and George Osborne went down to the local Job Centre and accused people of being a scrounger or lazy but he knows that he would get what he was asking for, he could even get arrested for Slander/Deformation maybe even on the grounds of Discrimination.

I am convinced that the “scrounger” and fake, lead-swinging, fraudulently claiming rhetoric, started by Freud and Purnell, carried on by the coalition and ramped up by the right wing press, is what has led to a rise in disability hate crime.

Poor, low waged able bodied people have been convinced, due to lies about fraud from politicians and the tabloids that disabled people are living the high life on generous and easily claimed benefits.

It is not true, DLA fraud is 0.5%, the lowest of any benefit.

There is mistrust and suspicion towards claimants. The language Clegg uses “alarm clock Britain,” Cameron and his obsession with families who “do the right thing” the Sun’s “shop a scrounger” campaign, the Mail shock stories about plasma TVs and “free cars.” It breeds jealousy and resentment, people think that disabled people are getting showered with money and that they are probably faking it anyway.

http://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2010/12/recorded-hate-crime-nearly-doubles-in-one-year/

So there you have it ! Before, during and after the last general election in May-2010 David Cameron, George Osborne and others labelled the unemployed, sick and disable as Scroungers and Lazy along with other untrue and hurtful remarks to make the wider public believe that the unemployed, sick and disabled were milking the system. This is Defamation and slander because those claims were not true and the evidence shows a completely different picture.

All those false and incorrect statements made by David Cameron, George Osborne and others about the unemployed, sick and disabled have created Hate and Discrimination towards both the unemployed, sick and disabled.

It is my opinion that Civil and possibly Human Rights have been violated by David Cameron and others along with Defamation ( Calumny ) and slander.

Please look at the website that Lex highlighted on : http://www.disabledgo.com/blog/2010/12/recorded-hate-crime-nearly-doubles-in-one-year/

Can you not see that this so called Coalition has caused people to discriminate against the disabled in particular. I personally believe that this so called Coalition of misery has a case to answer but that is only my personal belief and it is down to those that have suffered as a result to persue this matter with urgency because the bullying and suffering will continue unless they stand upto this deceitful, evil so called Coalition.

More evidence of the broken promises from David Cameron regarding the Sick and Disabled, please post this where ever you can to remind people of how Evil these people are. Please watch : http://youtube.com/watch?v=4UvqmZlaAPY

9. Nathaniel Mathews

Thank you for nailing this issue Don Paski.

I am infuriated by the careless conflation of fraud and error. Verifiable fraud is much smaller than error, but the problems is firstly that it’s sexy for politicians to put the boot in on benefits scroungers, and secondly that it’s difficult for public authorities to admit to error.

As it has been explained to me, the problem is that if a claimant manages to persuade e.g. a Housing Benefit authority that they were after all entitled to benefits, the claimant will be paid but the local authority will not be properly reimbursed by central government, since this is classified as an error. I don’t know if this is fact but I have been told this by council workers.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

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  2. Don Paskini

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  3. Stuart Harrison

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  6. Andy Bean

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  7. Don Paskini

    another DWP blunder: govt minster admits to church that osborne got it wrong over benefit fraud http://bit.ly/fHPKnk

  8. tim flatman

    RT @donpaskini: another DWP blunder: govt minster admits to church that osborne got it wrong over benefit fraud http://bit.ly/fHPKnk

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  17. Lesley Cookman

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  47. BendyGirl

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  54. Lescromps

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  55. Shrewmaus

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  66. Pauline

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  67. Lord Freud blunders again on housing benefit | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] to be fair to Lord Freud, he is no more clueless about housing policy than about benefit fraud, which he apologised for “inadvertently” misleading people about, or who is responsible for carrying out incapacity benefit tests, or the entire welfare system, […]

  68. IDS finally admits to exaggerating “rhetoric” on benefit fraud | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] belated semi-apology came only a few weeks after Lord Freud from the same department wrote to Churches apologising for exaggerating the extent of benefit […]

  69. miserableswine

    Ian Duncan Smith is a professional LIAR:

    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/01/20/minister-apologises-to-church-over-benefit-fraud-claims/

  70. miserableswine

    @the_tpa http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/01/20/minister-apologises-to-church-over-benefit-fraud-claims/

  71. miserableswine

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    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/01/20/minister-apologises-to-church-over-benefit-fraud-claims/

  72. miserableswine

    @TonyParsonsUK Especially if they are IDS:
    http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/01/20/minister-apologises-to-church-over-benefit-fraud-claims/

  73. How many disabled people are fit for work? Not as much as ministers claim | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] Iain Duncan Smith finally admits over-stating benefit fraud Minister Lord Freud apologises over benefit fraud claims 1%: the real extent of benefit fraud Fact: Labour did not ‘write people off’ to a lifetime on […]

  74. Nathaniel Mathews

    sick & tired of this Minister apologises over benefit fraud claims | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/cKr6avOB via @libcon

  75. John Cooper

    Did you know in 2011 the government had apologised to the methodist church for using incorrect figures? http://t.co/DoxDCic0 @PublicIssues





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