'It's the same the whole world over...its the poor what gets the blame.' So the song goes. How true it is. Welfare 'cheats' are pursued mercilessly, the wealty tax dodgers hardly at all. You would think that welfare cheats were costing us the earth. But they are not.
The State of the Nation report published in 2010 estimated the total benefit fraud in the United Kingdom in 2009/10 was approximately £1 billion. Figures from the Department for Work and Pensions show that benefit fraud is thought to have cost taxpayers £1.2 billion during 2012–13, Yet, a poll conducted by the Trades Union Congress in 2012 found that perceptions among the British public were that benefit fraud was high – on average people thought that 27% of the British welfare budget is claimed fraudulently.
Official UK Government figures put the level of fraud stands at 0.7% of the total welfare budget. In contrast, it is estimated that tax fraud and tax evasion costs almost £69.9 bn per year. That lost through welfare fraud is a tiny fraction of that.
Chasing welfare 'cheats' is political. The failure to prosecute tax cheats is also political. It has suited this government drive to cut welfare to allow the impression that somehow most recipients don't deserve it. They are bucking the system. That has been the mood music - 'welfare scroungers'. We have had the stories of 'shirkers', people who don't work but claim benefits, hiding behind closed curtains. What a despicable falsehood it has been - a lie perpetrated by politicians with not a little help from the media.
All this has been a cover for 'austerity' along with the myth that 'we must cut the deficit'. Few challenge this story. Most buy into it. but it has been a prospectus of economic madness. It has delayed recovery so that we had the longest recession and greater suffering as a result. The bitter pill, we were told, had to be taken. The medicine would be good for us. The 'scroungers' were pursued.
We had the bedroom tax in an attempt to drive hard working families from their homes. We had flawed disability assessments driving the disabled to despair and, in some cases, suicide. The coalition has been a shocking government — a government without a moral compass. It is time it stopped. They have chased the poorest and allowed the wealthiest to get away with it. The wealthy have become the 'untouchables'. The poorest 10% in the UK pay proportionately more tax than the wealthiest. That is something the tax dodging rich should be ashamed of. Taxpayer's money subsidises the lifestyle of the wealthy.
It is our money that pays for the training of the doctors and nurses that work in the private hospitals, not just the NHS. We train the doctors and the teachers - the teachers that teach their children. We pay for the roads on which they drive their limousines. We maintain the infrastructure that helps their businesses to grow so that they get richer. We, the taxpayer, and it is the poorest who shoulder the biggest burden of that tax.
The poor subsidise the rich. That is shameful.
Read Ray'a Novel: It wasn't always late summer