The Government have announced yet another ’crackdown’ on benefit cheats.
In selected areas of the country, they will try different methods of reminding claimants that they have to report changes in circumstances. these are usually things like obtaining part-time work, moving in with a partner etc, and this sustained campaign of getting the public to report who they consider to be a suspect fraudster, will be very helpful in dealing with this problem.
Benefit Fraud, is not as common as the screaming headlines of the right-wing tabloid press would have us believe. There is a hard-core of deliberate fraudsters who cost all of us £1 billion per annum, and it is to be hoped that the Government is moving against those cheats. The level of benefit fraud detection has not changed in over 5 years.
However, in reporting this story what does the BBC show on their flagship news programme? They screened three old DWP videos showing people engaging in sport & work whilst obviously having claimed incapacity. This was presented to the public as examples of Benefit Fraud. No doubt that it is, but unfortunately in the mind of the public, who are being asked to report fraudsters and cheaters who have not reported “ changes in circumstances” this gives the very strong impression that anyone who claims disability benefits is somehow dodgy and cheating.
Unfortunately this does seem to be how some of the media like to report disability. This type of campaign only harms the genuine claimant, who may have a hidden disability. As our readers well know, disability is not always as obvious as a prosthetic legs or a wheelchair. .
It is quite difficult to read between the lines of what the government’s attitude toward disabled and disability actually is. We are all quite well aware of ATOS, and its function in representing the interests of the DWP. Arising from that, we know from our experience in the office that benefits are being disallowed and changed, and real poverty and despair is being generated amongst the most disadvantaged in society.
So do the DWP actually want to find Benefit Fraudsters by targeting the cheats, or are they again using propaganda, by using a broad brush to smear all the disabled, in the hope they smoke out the few?
It is very hard not to see these campaigns in the same way that the Government tackles Illegal Immigration. Remember the heavily criticised posters on trucks advising immigrants to “go home” which were driven around known immigrant locations in London? The disabled sometimes seem to be on that same intolerance list, and that genetics, disease, accident, or circumstances have little part to play in what they consider to be a disability.
Without wishing to offend those who have mental illness; there is a very good allusion to the situation. Paranoia is a clinical condition which deludes the sufferer into thinking that an unknown “force” is out to get them. As the situation with changes to welfare is real, documented and obvious then the disabled and poor of this country are not delusional, and we have every reason to feel that “they” are indeed out to get us.