Report a Benefit Cheat – Are You Sure About That?

It has been brought to my attention that the Crimestoppers website has a page dedicated to reporting benefit cheats. This is nothing new of course, there have been tv ads, ads on bus shelters, billboards etc. All pointing the finger with a stereotypical image of what a benefit cheat apparently looks like. The last one I took any notice of showed a young woman in her dressing gown in her kitchen, her boyfriend having a cup of tea. It seems that benefit cheats wear dressing gowns and drink tea. Thank god I don’t do either then!

For a long time the welfare bill has been something political parties have promised to reduce, particularly focusing on the rate of fraud within the system. No one dislikes a cheat more than those who claim legitimately and legally, however, no one dislikes the demonisation more either. The nasty stereotyping and paranoia that goes with it. First I will explain the actual figures for benefit fraud, then I hope to educate a few people about what actually constitutes cheating.

The actual rate of fraud in the system is substantially lower than the media and political parties are trying to show:

There is £3.1billion identified fraud and error in the benefit system. Fraud is when someone knowingly claims for a benefit they are not entitled to. Error is completely different, it means a mistake, often made by the actual system.

Only £1billion of that figure is attributed to fraud, so the remaining £2.1billion is as a result of system error.

The initial figure of £3.1billion is rightly shocking but many people would do well to remember that the majority of that is not fraud at all.

Now, let me explain what fraud actually is.

Fraud is not the disabled person who lives at the end of your street or the flat next door going to the shop, being picked up to go out for lunch, or stepping outside of their house to collect the milk/paper/a parcel. That does not mean they are cheating the system because you don’t actually know what they are claiming for. Remember, you cannot see many disabilities, you cannot tell if someone is suffering from a mental health condition unless they tell you in many cases, as is the case with many other conditions. There is no need to pick up that phone and report him/her.

Fraud is not a father visiting the home his children live in a few times a week. Someone spending time with their children does not mean their mother is cheating the system, it means she is allowing her children to have a relationship with their father. Just because he arrives in time for the school run after a night shift, or just after tea time, does not mean he lives there. There is no need to pick up that phone and report her.

A personal note for the compliance unit at local jobcentres:

Someone getting a lift to a jobcentre review does not equal fraud. People are free to accept lifts in cars from whoever they choose, regardless of the person’s gender, it does not mean they live together. In fact, I have had lifts off people I know but don’t particularly like 🙂

Ok, so what exactly is fraud?

Some examples of fraud:

Someone claiming JSA while working full time

Someone claiming as a single person when they live with a partner

Someone claiming a disability benefit for a condition they don’t have

There are other examples but it gets very complicated (house ownership, landlords who are relatives, landlords lying to the benefit office about the amount of rent for a property etc etc)

The moral of the story is, unless you are 100% sure that the person down the street/next door/across the road/mum at the school gates is definitely committing benefit fraud, keep your little dialing fingers under control.

The government and the media have been waging war on anyone who claims benefits for a long time. Currently disabled claimants are bearing the brunt of the hate campaign. The most vulnerable section of society are being disgracefully demonised to the point of suicide by a combination or tabloid lies and government policy. Portrayed as greedy, lying, lazy scroungers.

Single parents are often demonised aswell. They have always been portrayed as irresponsible, lazy, uneducated, promiscuous, lying little harlots. Our children, the cause of all of societies problems. We know it’s untrue but foolish members of the public  are sucked into the carnival of propaganda. Shame on them.

So, next time you feel the urge to shout abuse at a claimant, before you eye them with suspicion, before you blame them for their situation, remember, we’re human too, we have feelings. Living on benefits is not easy, we do not live in luxury, and all that free stuff you’ve heard we get, we really don’t. You also are not jealous of my house, trust me.

The rates of benefits are as follows:

  RATES 2010 RATES 2011
ATTENDANCE ALLOWANCE
HIGHER RATE
LOWER RATE
71.40
47.80
73.60
49.30
BEREAVEMENT ALLOWANCE
Bereavement Allowance (lump sum)
Widowed Parent Allowance
Bereavement Allowance
Standard RateAge related:age 54
53
52
51
50
49
48
47
46
45
2000.00
97.65
97.6590.81

83.98
77.14
70.31
63.47
56.64
49.80
42.97
36.13
29.30

2000.00
100.70
100.7093.65

86.60
79.55
72.50
65.46
58.41
51.36
44.31
37.26
30.12

CARERS ALLOWANCE 53.90 55.55
COUNCIL TAX BENEFIT
Personal Allowances
single
18-24
25 or over
Entitled to main phase ESA
Lone Parent

Couple

 

Dependent Children

Pensioner
Single/lone parent has attained the qualifying age for Pension Credit but is under 65

Couple – one or both has attained the qualifying age for Pension Credit but both under 65

Single/lone parent 65 and over
Couple – one or both 65 and over

Premiums

Family
Family (lone parent rate)
Child under 1

Disability
Single
Couple

Enhanced Disability
Single
Disabled child
Couple

Severe Disability
Single
Couple (lower rate)
Couple (higher rate)

Disabled child

Carer

ESA components
Work-related activity
Support

Alternative maximum Council Tax Benefit

Second adult on IS, JSA (IB), ESA (IR), or Pension Credit

First adult(s) students

second adult’s gross income :
– under £177.00

– £177.00 to £230.99

51.85
65.45
65.45

65.45

102.75

57.57

 

132.60

 

 

202.40

 

153.15
229.50

 

17.40
22.20

10.50

28.00
39.85

 

13.65
21.00
19.65

 

53.65
53.65
107.30

52.08

30.05

 

25.95
31.40

 

 

25% of council tax
100% of council tax

15% of council tax

7.5% of council tax

53.45
67.50
67.50

67.50

105.95

62.33

 

137.35

 

 

209.75

 

157.90
236.80

 

17.40
22.20

10.50

28.85
41.10

 

14.05
21.63
20.25

 

55.30
55.30
110.60

53.62

31.00

 

26.75
32.35

 

 

25% of council tax

100% of council tax

15% of council tax

7.5% of council tax

DISABILITY LIVING ALLOWANCE
(which is not an out of work benefit)Care Component
Highest
Middle
Lowest
Mobility Component
Higher
Lower

71.40
47.80
18.95

 

49.85
18.95

73.60
49.30
19.55

 

51.40
19.55

EMPLOYMENT AND SUPPORT ALLOWANCE (ESA)
Personal Allowances
Single
Under 25
25 or over
Lone Parent
under 18
18 or over

Couple

Both under 18

Both under 18 with child

Both under 18 (main phase)
Both under 18 with child (main phase)
One 18 or over, one under 18
Both over 18
Claimant under 25, partner under 18
Claimant 25 or over, partner under 18
Claimant (main phase) partner under 18

Premiums

Enhanced disability
Single
Couple

Severe disability

Single
Couple (lower rate)
Couple (higher rate)

Carer

Pensioner

Single with WRAC
Single with support component

Single with no component

Couple with WRAC

Couple with support component

Couple with no component

Components

Work related activity

Support

51.85
65.45

51.85
65.45

 

51.85

78.30

65.45

102.75

102.75
102.75
51.85

65.45

65.45

 

 

13.65
19.65

 

 

53.65
53.65
107.30

30.05

 

41.20
35.75

67.15

73.70

68.25

99.65

 

25.95
31.40

53.45
67.50

53.45
67.50

 

53.45

80.75

67.50

105.95

105.95
105.95
53.45

67.50

67.50

 

 

14.05
20.25

 

 

55.30
55.30
110.60

31.00

 

43.10
37.50

69.85

77.00

71.40

103.75

 

26.75
32.35

HOUSING BENEFIT
Personal Allowances
Single

under 25

25 or over

entitled to main phase ESA

Lone parent
under 18

18 or over
Entitled to main phase ESA

Couple

Both under 18

One or both 18 or over

Claimant entitled to main phase ESA

 

Dependent children

Pensioner
Single/lone parent has attained the qualifying age for Pension Credit but under 65
Couple – one or both has attained the qualifying age for Pension Credit but under 65
Single/lone parent – 65 and over

 

Couple – one or both 65 and over

Premiums

Family
Family (lone parent)
Child under 1

Disability
Single
Couple

Enhanced disability
Single
Disabled child
Couple

Severe disability
Single
Couple (lower rate)
Couple (higher rate)

Disabled child

Carer

ESA components
Work-related activity
Support

51.85

65.45

 

65.45

51.85

65.45
65.45

 

78.30

102.75

 

102.75

57.57

 

 

132.60

 

 

202.40

153.15

229.50

 

 

17.40
22.20
10.50

28.00
39.85

 

13.65
21.00
19.65

 

53.65
53.65
107.30

52.08

30.05

 

25.95
31.40

53.45

67.50

 

67.50

53.45

67.50

67.50

 

80.75
105.95

 

105.95

62.33

 

 

137.35

 

 

209.70

157.90

236.80

 

 

17.40
22.20
10.50

28.85
41.10

 

14.05
21.63
20.25

 

55.30
55.30
110.60

53.62

31.00

 

26.75
32.35

INCAPACITY BENEFIT
Long-term incapacity benefit
Short-term disability (under state pension age)

Lower rate
Higher rate

 

Short-term disability (over state pension age)
Lower rate
Higher rate

Increase of long-term Incapacity Benefit for age
Higher rate
Lower rate

Invalidity allowance (transitional)
Higher rate
Middle rate
Lower rate

91.40

68.95

81.60

 

 

 

87.75
91.40

 

15.00
5.80

 

15.00
8.40
5.45

94.25

71.10

84.15

 

 

 

90.45
94.25

 

13.80
5.60

 

13.80
7.10
5.60

INCOME SUPPORT
Personal Allowances
Single
Under 25
25 or over

Lone parent
Under 18
18 or over

Couple
Both under 18
Both under 18 – higher rate
One under 18, one under 25
One under 18, one 15 and over
Both 18 or over

Dependent children

Premiums

Family/lone parent

Pensioner (applies to couples only)

Disability
Single
Couple

Enhanced disability
Single
Disabled child
Couple

Severe disability
Single
Couple (lower rate)
Couple (higher rate)

Disabled child

Carer

Relevant sum for strikers

51.85
65.45

51.85

65.45

 

51.85
78.30
51.85
65.45
102.75

57.57

 

17.40

99.65

 

28.00
39.85

 

13.65
21.00
19.65

53.65
53.65
107.30

52.08

30.05

35.00

53.45
67.50

53.45

67.50

 

53.45
80.75
53.45
67.50
105.95

62.33

 

17.40

103.75

 

28.25
41.10

 

14.05
21.63
20.25

55.30
55.30
110.60

53.62

31.00

36.00

JOBSEEKERS ALLOWANCE
Contribution based JSA – Personal Rates
Under 25
25 or over
Income based JSA – personal allowances
Under 25
25 or over

Lone parent
under 18
18 or over

Couple
both under 18
both under 18 – higher rate
one under 18, one under 25
one under 18, one 25 and over
both 18 or over

dependent children

Premiums

family/lone parent

pensioner
single
couple

disability
single
couple

enhanced disability
single
disabled child
couple

severe disability
single
couple (lower rate)
couple (higher rate)

disabled child

carer

Prescribed sum for strikers

51.85
65.45

 

51.85
65.45

51.85
65.45

 

51.85
78.30
51.85
65.45
102.75

57.57

 

17.40

 

67.15
99.65

28.00
39.85

 

13.65
21.00
19.65

 

53.65
53.65
107.30

52.08

30.05

35.00

53.45
67.50

 

53.45
67.50

53.45
67.50

 

53.45
80.75
53.45
67.50
105.95

62.33

 

17.40

 

69.85
103.75

28.85
41.10

 

14.05
21.63
20.25

 

55.30
55.30
110.60

53.62

31.00

36.00

MATERNITY ALLOWANCE
Standard Rate
MA Threshold
124.88
30.00
128.73
30.00
PENSION CREDIT
Standard minimum guarantee
single
couple
Additional amount for severe disability

single
couple (one qualifies)

 

couple (both qualify)

Additional amount for carers

Savings credit
threshold – single
threshold – couple
maximum – single
maximum – couple

Amount for claimant and first spouse in polygamous marriage
Additional amount for additional spouse

132.60
202.40

 

53.65
53.65

107.30

 

30.05

98.40
157.25
20.52
27.09

 

202.40

69.80

137.35
209.70

 

55.30
55.30

110.60

 

31.00

103.15
164.55
20.52
27.09

 

209.70

72.35

Now, get a pen and paper, perhaps a calculator too, and work out how much you’d be left to live on if you suddenly lost your job, or became ill and unable to work, or your partner left you with small children. Would you be able to have that one night out a month? Would you be able to afford new school uniform, because we don’t get a grant for that anymore, we have to pay for the lot. Would you be able to afford the bus fare when you can’t pay for the MOT or tax on your car (if you have one). And what are you going to do when those shoes wear out?

Anyone who chooses a life on benefits is crazy to put it simply. It’s not nice, at all. You may also notice that not all of those benefits and premiums listed above were increased.:

Bereavement allowance

Council Tax benefit premium for family, family (lone parent rate) and child under 1

Housing Benefit premium for family, family (lone parent rate) and child under 1

Income Support premium for family/lone parent

Jobseekers Allowance premium for family/lone parent

Do you see a pattern in there? The family/lone parents aren’t allowed to have their premium increased even when all others are. So, next time you decide that single parent you know is raking it in remember, they lost out in 2011. No doubt they’ll lose out in 2012 aswell. It might not seem like they lost alot but every penny counts when you have small mouths to feed, energy bills to pay and a shortfall in your rent to pay out of your income support/jobseekers allowance/ESA etc. They don’t have it so easy really do they?

In light of the ongoing hate campaign against the disabled work out how much you might hope to live on if you find yourself disabled and unable to work. Then work out how much you’d lose when ATOS decided that, although your own doctor says you’re not fit for work, they do and you lose all your financial support and have to appeal their decision.

And lastly, just imagine that you are living on benefits and some jealous, ill informed ‘tax payer’ decided to report you for suspected benefit fraud (we are all tax payers by the way, I pay VAT thank you very much). You are hauled into the jobcentre after possibly being put under surveillance for weeks, with your children witnessing their mother/father being questioned by a total stranger who really isn’t very friendly. I had to explain to a 3yr old and a 2yr old why I was told off for accepting a lift to a work focused interview by the lady in that room with the spinning chairs. I hadn’t done anything wrong but I still had to explain why we were there and I was questioned and told off. I hope they don’t remember.

I hear alot of people say ‘why don’t you just get a job?’ It’s really not that easy for me. I’d love to go to work (it’d be a welcome break), but I would have to pay for childcare. Currently tax credits would pay for 70% of my costs, I’d be left with half my wage going towards childcare alone. I have to wait untill my youngest starts full time school. That’s the situation I’m in. Anyway, even without childcare costs, where are the bloody jobs? There is, on average, 5 people chasing every job vacancy, and most don’t have to take into account school hours, school holidays, and caring responsibilities. What chance would I have right now? The father of my two youngest children is looking for work, he’s applying for everything but has been unsuccessful so far. He won’t sign on, the humiliation and degredation he experienced last time threw him into the dark pit of severe depression, of which he is still suffering, so he survives sleeping on friends floors. He needs some dental work doing but can’t afford it, and because he isn’t signing on he isn’t entitled to free treatment.

If Iain Duncan Smith has his way people could be sanctioned for up to 3 years. The life my ex is leading is what all those people will be living with no income, no hope of a job, possibly with children in tow. People do get sanctioned for nothing. I haven’t been sanctioned, but my tax credits were stopped without warning for a month because of a paperwork error. I fell behind with all my bills, I just couldn’t pay them as well as feed my children. I’m still catching up with my gas and electric 9 months on.

So, before you swallow the lies the government and their media bully boys (and girls) feed you, think about it. We don’t live like royalty. There are no free mobile phones, designer clothes, cars, we pay our own gas and electric bills, our water rates, most of us pay towards our rent. No one pays our telephone bills for us! Most of us will be having a pound shop christmas, if we have one at all. Freecycle is my best friend at the moment. I would also like to point out that the flat screen tv, the blackberry, the leather settee and the shiny stereo you may have seen in a benefit claimants house, they are most likely from Brighthouse. My blackberry (yes I have one!) costs me £12.50 a month, all in and it’s from Virgin. It works out alot cheaper than my old PAYG phone. Don’t tell Edwina, she’d send me to the workhouse 😉

I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you, if you agree, to sign a petition calling for falsely reporting someone for benefit fraud to become a criminal offence

http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/22678

It wastes so much time, causes so much distress to innocent people and should be stamped out.

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Posted on December 10, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 9 Comments.

  1. “I’d like to take this opportunity to ask you, if you agree, to sign a petition calling for falsely reporting someone for benefit fraud to become a criminal offence”

    Because, unlike the ‘shop a benefit cheat’ campaign, that won’t ever be abused…?

    • But you agree with The Work Programme, which is obviously never abused is it? The success rate of the ‘shop a cheat’ hot line is so tiny it just proves it wastes everyone’s time and money (0.31%).

  2. I did a temp job at the council a few years back, opening the mail among other things, and some of the letters reporting so-called ‘benefit cheats’ were such petty examples of curtain twitching.

    The council had a team of investigators that followed these things up. I used to call them the Cheka after the forerunner of the KGB. I heard one of them comment once that his investigation had shown that someone wasn’t a cheat, but his attitude was ‘I haven’t got this person yet — but I will’. No such thing as innocence.

    ‘Shop a cheat’ the whole thing is a noxious mechanism for breeding fear, mistrust and disdain between neighbours. It’s nothing to do with so-called fraud, just an attempt to criminalise the poorly paid, the unemployed, the disabled and the generally poor, and create the kind of stifling aura of fear one might expect to find living under a Stasi-type regime.

  3. Creating a culture of suspicion with such a low success rate is ludicrous. Turning us against each other doesn’t seem to be the purpose of the Big Society but that’s what they’re doing. Signed and passed on. Thanks for the well-researched post.

  4. For the information of your ex, it is possible to get free dental treatment (and health care generally) without having to be in receipt of benefits. Get an HS10 form (I think) and that gets those on low income an HS2 certificate which covers you for free prescriptions, dental work, glasses etc.

    All the best

  5. Whilst I despise people who cheat the system and agree that measures should be put in place to find them, I do know people with disabilities that prevent them holding down a job but which do not affect them all the time. For instance I have a friend who is intelligent, hard working and great company 75% of the time. The other 25% of the time they are so anxious and depressed they incapable of going into work. They have no control on when ‘bad days’ will come along and on ‘good days’ it looks for all the world like they have no real problems and there is nothing wrong with them. I worry that this report a cheat system would penalise people like this severely 😦

    Also, with this new system – I’d imagine that every report would have to be treated equally to make it a fair unbiased process. So every cases regardless of how flimsy or circumstantial it was would have to be investigated – think about the cost of all these investigations totalled up. Also each case would have to be documented and archived and, I’d hope, evaluated to make sure there are no patterns of racial/gender/sexual orientation discrimination evident – all this is going to cost money, probably much more money then they would save from the one or two genuine cheat they do catch .

  6. . “The last one I took any notice of showed a young woman in her dressing gown in her kitchen, her boyfriend having a cup of tea. It seems that benefit cheats wear dressing gowns and drink tea.”

    OMG I’m a benefit cheat and I didn’t even realise it!!

    Thanks for a really good article.

    Many years ago, in the course of my job, I rang the social fun on behalf of an elderly aisian lady. Instead of putting me on hold, the person I spoke with put the phone down on the desk. This meant that I could listen to their conversation. Apparently this lady’s type (Pensioner? Asian? Female? Claimant?) was always trying to pull a fast one. She was refused a payment because she was ‘known’ to have 2 lodgers and hadn’t mentioned them on the social fund form.
    No one had bothered getting back to her to ask about the lodgers, they had taken for granted that she was lying. In reality, when the lodgers had moved out, she had naively assumed that when they registered from their new addresses they would be removed from hers. Rather than her trying to fiddle money from the benefit system, she had actually be underpaid for almost five years.

    i doubt very much if the situation has changed, except that fewer people can claim. At one time I would have been eligible for Unemployment Benefit for six months after I was made redundant as I’d paid all my contributions for 30 odd years. Now I’m not entitled because I’m old enough to get my works pensions.

    If half then money spent on alleged benefit fraud was spent chasing tax evaders and tax avoidance loophole were closed, I’m sure the country could save billions

  7. I am disabled and my life is not easy. I am facing ATOS in three days and I am terrified. I know what the outcome will be. I also live in fear of two sets of nasty neighbours. Every time I see one of them I feel as if I’m being assessed for work. I’m quizzed constantly about my health and how it effects me. The other neighbours just hates me for no reason. The fear I feel is overwhelming. Most of my days are bad but I do get good one’s when I try and do things. I hate living like this. I haven’t been attacked in the street yet for being disabled but I have seen it done to others. To anyone reading this:
    Don’t lose your job
    Don’t lose your health
    Don’t have children
    Don’t claim benefits
    Don’t have a life

    Remember Iain Duncan(Bastard)Smith is waiting for you!

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