Today January 3 2014 is the official start of the latest Divide & Rule Strategy from the boys at DWP; Freud is the spokesman of this new ‘softer’ approach to the proven futile Benefit Fraud Campaign.
So how is the latest ‘reinvention going to differ – there are 6 pilot areas with “posters, newspaper adverts, Facebook adverts and letters to claimants – urging people to report suspected benefit fraud or changes to their circumstances”; it seems at a quick glance this campaign is aimed at ensuring claimants understand what they need to report to DWP and when – not much wrong with that then? Until you look at the second example which is the same old rhetoric – report anyone you don’t like/is on benefits/you don’t ‘believe is disabled etc to DWP and all for FREE – yes one of the few 0800 Numbers the DWP still has is… to enable any vigilante wannabe!!
Before anyone decides I’m arguing we live in a perfect world where nobody ever tries to cheat I ask you to investigate the ‘Facts‘ (as we have them) around this –
- 0.7%, or £1.2 billion, of total benefit expenditure is overpaid due to fraud
- 0.9%, or £1.6 billion, of total benefit expenditure is overpaid due to claimant error
- 0.4%, or £0.7 billion, of total benefit expenditure is overpaid due to official error
Interestingly these are ALL ‘estimates’ for 2012/14, it also must be noted these ‘estimates’ have remained relatively static since 2005!
Even the DWP admit “It is only a small minority who commit fraud” Freud 03/01/2014; so surely these campaigns, which given the fairly constant level of estimated fraud don’t work, seem to be a case of overkill? That is unless you take a slightly more cynical view of the whole situation – If the Government was truly concerned with fraud, wouldn’t a different, more efficiently way of managing it, have been designed by now; and, wouldn’t we have actual statistics, rather than than over 8 years of ‘around £1 billion’ estimates??
Isn’t it just as likely that All governments consider the level of concern and worry ‘fraud’, and other associated anti-social, or even illegal behaviours people are often coerced into create amongst the public, a small price to pay from the overall national budget? The anxiety and anger such actions create, offers Politicians another ‘reason’ to continue utilising psychological coercion as a way to manage us, the people. While the Government can cause individuals to mistrust their neighbours. colleagues, friends, or even family, repeatedly using the same message year on year – how so many others ‘cheating’ the system are the real reasons our Taxes, bills, mortgages are so high; surely they’ll continue to do so? It’s so much easier to continue manipulating the system to benefit those who have the most power, and therefore £; when the majority believe their personal resources are limited, because their peers are deceitful.
Given all of the above I couldn’t help but wonder how much the DWP had spent on these campaigns over the past 3+ years, and how much the budget for this latest reinvention is; to this end I posted a FOI request this morning – I’ll keep you posted. Until then, when you read in the press or the on internet, hear on the radio or watch on TV how around £1 billion has been ‘lost’ in the past year because other people are ‘cheating’; stop and think is this the is the same £1 billion that’s been lost for the past 8 years or more??