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Benefit cheats will face sentences of up to 10 years, director of public prosecutions Keir Starmer QC has threatened. While punishing fraud by claimants – and frightening people who are honest but fear being targeted – will be popular with parts of the public, the lack of a sense of proportion is worrying.
The Work and Pensions Secretary Iain Duncan Smith has urged better-off pensioners not to claim payments such as the winter fuel allowance, free bus pass and TV licence.
That a politician as divisive as Margaret Thatcher should polarise opinion in death is probably not surprising. Unfortunately, responses on both sides of the divide have done little but entrench bitterness and have pointed yet again to the sterile confrontationalism of so much of our politics.
Disability Living Allowance is an “outdated benefit” for which “around 50 per cent of decisions are made on the basis of the claim form alone - without any additional corroborating medical evidence,” stated UK minister for disabled people Esther McVey on the BBC and elsewhere this morning (8 April 2013).
Hundreds of millionaire bankers will enjoy an extra £54,000 on average each year from 6 April 2013, thanks to a cut in the top UK tax rate (assuming they pay taxes here and opposition calculations are correct). A massive state bailout previously saved many banks, after their sector triggered an economic crisis in which numerous taxpayers suffered. By coincidence, Mick Philpott – whose crimes are being exploited by the Chancellor and Prime Minister to undermine the principle of social security – also apparently received £54,000 a year from public funds.
Today I got an email from George Osborne. It wasn’t personal. I signed up for them on the basis that I like to keep my eye on what he’s doing; or more accurately, what he claims he’s doing.
When I received an embargoed press release a few weeks ago from the Joint Public Issues Team (The Methodist Church, Baptist Church, United Reformed Church) and the Church of Scotland about their new “Truth and Lies about Poverty” campaign, my heart leaped.