There’s usually fanfare, hype, sensationalist and screaming headlines in the right-wing press when it comes to benefit fraud. And the journos wait with baited breath when the official statistics are released so they can apply the same old reactionary stereotypes and phrases… ‘Britain’s sicknote culture’, ‘benefit cheats’…and so on. Of course, as well, the screaming headlines will pass into the collective consciousness and memory of the readership. The lazy assumptions between claimants and fraudsters. These headlines and stories make good copy albeit lazy journalism.
But where’s the screaming headlines over this? Where’s the indignation from the Tory press along with continually indignant Theresa May? Where’s the shock and horror over this? Or does this just slip past them because it doesn’t correspond with the right-wing populism that the media likes to peddle?
Well, here it is ….Charities challenge government over £16bn unclaimed benefits
Yes, over £16bn of benefits are unclaimed…. No fanfare over this.
The charities point to glaring examples where take-up is falling far short. Latest official figures show that:
* as many as four out of five low paid workers without children (1.2bn households) miss out on tax credits worth at least £38 per week – a total of £1.9 billion
* as many as half of all working households entitled to housing benefit (worth an average £37.60 per week) do not claim it – that’s up to half a million households.
Other benefits showing signs of significant under-claiming include council tax benefit and pension credit. Up to three million households are missing out on an average £13 a week in council tax benefit, while as many as 1.7 million pensioners are missing out on an average of £31 a week in pension credit.
Take-up of housing benefit and council tax benefit have both fallen over the last decade, while take-up of child tax credit is far lower in London than in other parts of the country, and generally 10% lower among families from minority ethnic backgrounds.
Just how will Yvette Cooper respond??!!
Why is this? The benefits system is one massive bureaucratic Kafka-esque nightmare and that other minefield known as means tested benefits. And surely the impact of the bureaucracy, increased conditionality, difficulties and stigmatisation will push people out of the benefits system as they will be inevitably put off from applying. Hence more deprivation and more poverty…if you try to climb out through working claiming Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit can turn your life into a bureaucratic nightmare. It is a choice between going hungry or having your nerves torn to shreads.
And what about non-means tested benefits, how much is unclaimed there?
But the message is all about the benefit scrounger. Where are the posters and adverts advertising about benefits people aren’t claiming. Can you just see the strapline, “Claim it, you’re entitled”..something like that. Except no… that just goes against the ideological grain. Let those benefits go unclaimed more money for NL to spend on bailouts for the financial markets and illegal wars…
The spotlight falls on the poor in this society, and also the amount of money lost due to ‘error and fraud’ with lots of trumped up tabloid hyperbole never mind that this is a drop in the financial ocean when comparing it to tax evasion and avoidance (something in the region of between £97bn and £150bn is lost in tax theft).
Taken from Happymarx