Commenting on the underhanded way in which the Department of Work and Pensions has gone about scrapping to the £320 million a year funding it made available to so that 20,000 severely disabled could live as independently as possible, Zoe iliiiam notes notes that the DWP lied about the purpose of closing the independent living fund. It didn’t admit that the money wouldn’t be there after 2015 until it was legally required to.
Whenever this government comes out with an idea that sounds, for British politics, unusually unjust or barbaric or ill-conceived, it usually has its roots in the US (free schools, food stamps, dash for gas, shares for rights, privatisation of health services). What I mind the most is the readiness with which the government will now lie: the prime minister will lie about the national debt; the secretary of state will lie about immigration, the chancellor will lie about benefit claimants, they’ll be rapped over the knuckles by the Office for National Statistics or Office for Budgetary Responsibility, take their punishment and go straight out and lie again. So, in the words of Nicholas Tomalin, talking about politicians in a (real) war: “Never forget that they lie, they lie, they lie.”
Here are some examples of the lies that are cirdulated without apology.
Ask people where that money that the governmet spends on welfare goes and you’ll find the assumptions is that it’s on unemployment or incapacity benefit. Apparently 41% of people think that the entire welfare budget goes to unemployed people paying out unemployment benefits.
In fact, half of UK benefit spending actually goes on state pensions. Jobseeker’s allowance is £4.91bn in 2011-12. That is a mere 3% of the benefits bill that the government has to foot .
A vast of the British public reckon benefit cheats are a massive problem. A recent opinion poll showed Brits typically believed 27% of the welfare budget is lost to fraud.
The reality is less dramatic. The DWP publishes official estimates of fraud in the welfare system. The most recent publication estimated overall fraud at 0.7% (yes,0.7% ) of the benefits bill. Mind you, if you say £1.2bn,is lost on fraud, then you haved to allow that people are going to feel understandiblyunhappy. But then we should remember benefits can be underpaid as well as overpaid, and that last year it is estimared underpayments (arising from errors by either officials or claimants) added up to £1.3bn.