No benefit: After Middlesbrough FC supporters heard a series of Benefits Street was to be filmed on Teesside, they flew banners attacking the decision at the club’s next match. They knew that it, and shows like it, help create distrust of people on benefits that leads to false allegations of fraud.

Only a few days ago, a commenter was telling This Writer about people he absolutely knew were benefit fraudsters.

Well, maybe 14 per cent of them were.

This all progresses from another statistic – one we’ve already heard.

It states that people believe 27 per cent of benefit claimants are committing fraud, when the real figure is just 0.7 per cent. In the case of sickness/disability benefits, it’s 0.4 per cent.

Why do people believe this? They get it from the media – from papers like the Express and the Mail, and TV shows like Benefits Street and all the other “poverty porn” programming.

And where do the media people get their ideas? From the Conservative Government – of course.

Boil it all down and you get a “make-work” scheme in which the Conservative Government – through the media – creates an atmosphere of distrust against people on benefits, especially the sick and disabled, leading to an escalating number of inaccurate allegations of fraud against claimants.

That’s why Mr Farron’s comment is important, even though he’s partially mistaken.

The idea isn’t to turn people against the welfare state.

It’s to turn people against the sick and the disabled. Divide and rule.

More than 85% of fraud allegations made by the public over the last five years were false, according to figures obtained by the Observer.

A freedom of information request to the Department for Work and Pensions discloses that between 2010 and 2015 the government closed 1,041,219 alleged cases of benefit fraud put forward by the public. Insufficient or no evidence of fraud was discovered in 887,468 of these. In 2015 alone, of the 153,038 cases closed by the DWP’s Fraud and Error Service, 132,772 led to no action.

People can use an online form on the DWP website to anonymously report suspects, listing their eye colour, piercings, scars, tattoos and other details they deem relevant. Suspicions can also be logged through the DWP benefit fraud hotline.

Information received by the Observer states that more than 1.6 million cases of benefit fraud were opened between 2010 and 2015 after reports logged by the public.

Responding to the figures, Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron said: “The alarming number of incorrect reports shows the system has failed, it should be the DWP which investigates benefit fraud, not your closest neighbours. This McCarthy-style reporting of benefit fraud is another example of the government’s desire to turn people against the welfare state and to treat sick and disabled people as second-class citizens.”

Source: More than 85% of public tips on benefit ‘frauds’ are false | Society | The Guardian

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