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Wirral MP brands all benefit claimants 'cheats'
11:56am Tuesday 30th October 2012 in Letters
AS the pensioner father of a learning disabled son, I have complete contempt for "benefit cheats" who are stealing money from those who really need it.
Fortunately the level of cheating is low. Lord Freud is on the record in Parliament this year reporting 'fraud and error' as costing us £3.2 billion. However this is 2% of annual benefit costs.
In fact it turned out that the fraud component was 0.6%.
It is therefore disturbing to see Frank Field MP in the Sun, the Daily Telegraph, at the Institute of Economic Affairs and on his website, promoting his welfare reform ideas, whatever their merits, by indiscriminately branding benefit claimants as cheats.
Here is what he said : "As we now have a welfare state based on meeting need, this encourages individuals, not unreasonably, to try to ensure that they qualify under this guise.
"It therefore pays to lie about one's earnings, to cheat, or to be inactive. The worst side of human nature is encouraged..."
So for the sake of punishing the one-in-200 benefit claimants who cheat, and appealing to public misconceptions, the principle of meeting the genuine needs of the vulnerable is to be abandoned.
Frank on his website tells us that his welfare ideas will "put the
[Labour] party firmly in line with public opinion."
Let us hope that Ed Milliband, like Blair (and Cameron) before him, decline to listen.
Professor D P Gregg (retired) by email.