Mis-reporting fraud

The BBC has been making some seriously misleading statements about fraud. A recent Panorama programme took people parking in “disabled” spaces and failing to occupy social housing as evidence of fraud. One claimant was filmed cycling; one was playing golf; another was gardening. People who claim incapacity benefit can indeed be found on occasion to take physical exercise. That is not evidence that their claim is fraudulent. People with mental illness, for example, may be fully able to use their bodies. People with restricted mobility may well be encouraged by their doctors to take exercise. The benefits are about the ability to work, not to walk. And people might have some personal wealth; some of the benefits are not means tested.

The bullying, censorious tone is made worse by mispresentation – for example the claim that fraud is costing £22 billion, when the DWP estimate for fraud is £1.2 billlion. The figures are reviewed by Ben Baumberg in a lucid posting at this address. For a more detailed consideration, view the sample chapter from How Social Security Works.

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