Let’s start of by making it clear that I know that people abuse the system; work and claim benefits, lie about circumstances. There will always be. Just as at the other end of the scale there are and always will be people who avoid paying millions in tax.
Of course one benefit cheat may fiddle a few thousands; a tax cheat, a few million a year.
I condemn both whilst accepting that they as inevitable as the sunrise.
But I caution that whatever the Daily Mail says, most "welfare" goes to people who do need it; people who would work if there was decent and suitable work, or people who desperately need help in their illnesses, or old age.
The new Welfare laws, as well as clamping down on the cheats, put these people’s lives at risk. Witness the stories told in After Atos. In one case the representative of a claimant went to Tribunal to say that his client would be unable to attend due to the unfortunate fact that he had died.
And the decision to cut pensioners’ benefits (Tory policy) is unspeakable. Private or company pensions are flat lining, bank interest which used to be a mainstay of elderly people, is practically zero (unless of course you have your money in the British Virgin Islands), domestic fuel prices are rising at twice the rate of inflation so far this year and more increases are predicted before winter, we already have a jaw-dropping annual death rate from cold related illness, and Osborne cuts £100 from old people’s winter fuel payment?
How would the cabinet feel if their own parents were shivering in the house, wrapped in blankets with one bar of a fire to keep them warm, checking the meter every half hour and spending most of the day in bed, eventually giving up trying to keep warm and just slowly slipping away, alone, cold and miserable?
Despite their best efforts to make us forget it by encouraging a wild orgy of celebration over this extended bank holiday (on credit cards), which is estimated to have cost the British economy in excess of £6 billion in lost productivity, and to have had a -0.25% effect on next quarter’s figures, they can’t hide that we are suffering with static wages, reduced in-work benefits, increased taxation (direct and indirect) and horrific price increases (4% inflation my butt!).
And in the meantime we are fighting two wars from which we are detached, and can afford weddings which they say make the country more cohesive. Well tell that to the “benefit cheat” who died before the tribunal could reverse the stopping of his benefits. He’ll not be feeling like he was part of one big happy Britain.
And remember, that could be you. Not today maybe, but next year, or in 5 years’ time. The stories in “After Atos” happened in Scotland. Ahead of Thursday’s elections I’d love to know if Iain Gray, Annabel Goldie and Tavish Scott support this very unScottish treatment of Scots perpetrated by their London counterparts.