Thursday, 12 August 2010

Quote of the day...

...comes from a mealy-mouthed Chris Huhne;
Now I did not come into politics to make cuts.

As a Liberal Democrat my top priority is a strong and fair economy – caring for the vulnerable, protecting the environment.
Something tells me he's in the wrong job. And, for that matter, the wrong party.

Nonetheless, we are supposed to feel sympathy for him and his ilk as they attack the working class "with care and with a heavy heart." After all, "the unavoidable cuts that are coming are Labour cuts."

Fucking spare me. 

For one, the cuts aren't "unavoidable." They're an ideological weapon weilded to shore up the ruling class.

If Labour was still in power, yes, we would still be facing them. But shouts of "Labour cuts" don't hold up any more than the reverse shouts of "Tory cuts" or "Con-Dem cuts" do. It doesn't matter what party's in power when it's the same class weilding the axe.

As I wrote yesterday, they are doing their best to blame the poor for capitalism's ills. This "may soothe their consciences, but it does nothing to address the real problems."

Take the latest proposals to use "bounty hunters" to crack down on benefit fraud. Dralienfromzog dissects the reality behind this over at Angry Mob;
You may notice that the figure of £5bn pounds keeps coming up. This is an interesting one as this is the figure for fraud and various errors that lead to over-payment. The actual figure for fraud is only £1.1bn.

But we all know that fraud is rampant – because the press keeps telling us about case after case of fraud; a quick search of the Daily Mail website reveals dozens of such stories.

Let us have a look at some of the facts (all of this data comes from the Department for Work and Pensions Official figures 2008-9, last complete set of data.):

Fraud: £1.1bn (0.8%), Customer error: £1.1bn (0.8%),  Official error: £0.8bn (0.6%)

The percentages are of the total benefits budget. So fraud is less than 1% of total benefits spending.
A couple of other interesting statistics worth noting:
  • under-payment due to errors: £1.2bn (i.e. more than fraud)
  • £10bn. The amount of unclaimed benefit that people are entitled to.
  • since 2001, fraud has been reduced from 2.1% of the benefit budget to 0.8% (halved in cash terms)
  • £15.2bn – the estimated loss to the treasury of Tax Evasion.
What’s my point in all this? I am not saying that benefit fraud is acceptable, it’s clearly not. What I am saying is that this is all part of an on-going narrative that paints anyone on benefits as a drain on society and probably a thief. It is cheap political points scoring at the expense of the vulnerable and that is sick.
East London charity Community Links goes further by explaining that the image offered by the media strays far from reality;
We regularly talk to terrified people who are about to be hauled in front of a Jobcentre advisor and quizzed about their claim. Their only source of income is at risk – that five minute interview could mean the difference between scraping by and being plunge into destitution. And they might only be there because a neighbour has fallen out with them and phoned the benefit fraud hotline, or they had a bit of paint on their hands at their last interview. These advisors, don’t forget, are the same people who are supposed to be supporting people into work.

Even those who are defrauding the system usually do so out of need, not greed – scraping together enough for Christmas or paying for repair of a boiler through a bit of informal work, for example. The structural problems with the benefits system that Iain Duncan Smith has identified, the ones which make it very hard to get into work and render the system so complex it borders on incomprehensible, must shoulder the blame for all the error and most of the fraud. The few cases of blatant greed make the headlines, but don’t reflect the reality for people we see.
At the same time, tax evasion costs the Treasury 15 times more than benefit fraud. And, as Dave Osler says over at Liberal Conspiracy, the cost of benefit fraud "is little more than small change in comparison with the £850bn spent on the bank bailout."

But, Huhne assures us, the government makes this "tough choice" to attack our class "with care and with a heavy heart." For "the national interest."

Fuck off, you Yellow Tory prick.