back to article Rumbled benefits cheats offer sensational excuses

Government ministers have revealed a top ten list of improbable and entertaining excuses offered by rumbled benefits cheats, including the defence of one perp who insisted: "It wasn't me working, it was my identical twin." Another brilliantly claimed: "I wasn't aware my wife was working because her hours of work coincided with …

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FAIL

Here's another

I fiddled £31,000 after bullying by 'powerful enemy’, says Elliot Morley.

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Mushroom

and another

“All the other peers were doing it”, Paul White alias Lord Hanningfield.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/8538585/Lord-Hanningfield-found-guilty-of-expenses-fraud.html

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Mushroom

and how about

"if I had claimed the money transparently, honestly and frankly, I would have been entitled to every penny, if not more", David Chaytor

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2011/jan/07/david-chaytor-jailed-mps-expenses

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Irresponsible government

These excuses are outrageous, of course they are, but they represent a tiny fraction of benefit claimants. They are anecdotal evidence, and the release of this selection by government is not highlighting anything, it is encouraging a witchhunt against benefit claimants and providing spin and propaganda to justify cutting costs.

I have written two blog posts in response to this. I would repost here, but it's 2k words.

www.latentexistence.me.uk/compare-and-contrast/

www.latentexistence.me.uk/existing-on-benefits/

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re. Irresponsible government

Would you suggest we let all claimants through without question then?

Surely it's the government's job to ensure that funds are allocated fairly, and that includes highlighting cases where individuals are abusing the system? You can (and have) chosen to make this a political issue, but insurance companies have used the same tactics for years to discourage casual fraud.

That's not to say the benefits system isn't flawed, but in this case, I'd rather people with imaginary identical twins weren't being paid when I work long hours to support my family.

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re. Irresponsible government

@Andy 73

As I said, those excuses are outrageous and deserve punishment. My point is that they are rare cases, and the vast majority of people are being punished for the crimes of a tiny percentage. (Fraud is down at 0.5% - 2.5% depending on the benefit, lower than admin errors.)

Making these excuses headline news is propaganda, however you look at it. It is not representative of the norm, but it is designed to turn people against benefits claimants. How would you like it if you were in my position? It very much IS a political issue. Millions of people are suffering because of this government's policies. Not that Labour was any better.

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Well, quite

I don't really believe a word of it. Sounds like friday afternoon down the pub at DHSS HQ

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@Latentexistence

I read your articles with great interest as I myself is on DLA.due to problems with my back and more recently my legs.

Like you I have bad days and not so bad days, (never good days any more) but to the DSS snoop taking a 1/125 at f5.6 snap shot of my life, I could easy end up in the office having to explain myself. so what If I did carry a sack of spuds in from the car and he snaps away... does he then take another snap of me sat in the chair all afternoon in agony because my shopping trip was a little to much for me to cope with? or do I not going out ever and sitting in a chair for the rest of my life. I dont think so...

as you said, I can spend all night coding a website or more likely working on a photograph in photoshop, but could I do it for a living? no...

A lot of people see me posting my photography work on facebook and flikr and assume that I can get around just fine, and to be fair, i do spend a lot of my time out and about with my camera.. (never to far from a car park) and easy make the assumption that I have a grand time of it out all the time in some beautiful places. but the fact of it is I may have planned to go out one day and then cant even get out of bed without help. that's not the part they see....

No doubt their is a lot of people out there claiming benefits that they are not entitled to and this does need cleaning up.

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@AC 30th May 2011 19:49 GMT

So, I'm paying for you to go out and about enjoying your photography hobby. Brilliant.

If you are good at photography, there are plenty of things you could be doing that don't put you too far from a seat: wedding photography (pays very well); studio-based photography; Photoshopping other post work; product/catalogue photography; sitting in a car photographing other dubious benefits claimants (okay, that one was a joke, sort of).

Seems like you're just looking for excuses...

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@Richy S

You have no clue what having a disability is, especially when it comes and goes. Planning is impossible, and that makes doing a paying job very difficult (you know, people want things done to a schedule, usually).

I wouldn't wish such a disability on anyone, but if you haven't experienced it, you are not qualified to make any comment that should be taken seriously.

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Mushroom

@Intractable Pothead

There are plenty of people out there with disabilities who don't use their disability as an excuse. They have the tenacity and self-worth to think what they can achieve, and not to wallow in self-pity.

For them it must be even more galling to see people using their disability as an excuse. And this is what I object to as well. Unless you are severely disabled, there is always something that can be achieved. Maybe with additional support form the Government too. But to just sit at home on benefits because you have a bad back some days is pretty pathetic.

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Well, the propoganda seems to be working...

If RichyS is anything to go by, anyway.

And I can guarantee you, the people most likely to be affected by all these changes are going to be the genuine claimants. The easy targets. The ones least likely to be affected are the ones who actually do want nothing to do with work ever, who've been on benefits all their life, know how the system works and exactly how to get around it.

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@RichyS

You really are failing to understand the nature of the problem. Living with a disability, there is no way to predict ability to do a task. It might happen tomorrow as planned, or never. You can't earn a living that way. Since you obviously won't read the links I posted, let me repost a little bit of it here.

As regular readers will know, I have a variable illness. There are days when I can walk to the shops. There are days when I can’t get out of bed or as far as the bathroom. There are times when I go out without using a walking stick but I have to use one to get home. (Staggering all the way.) There are times when I am well enough to ride a motorbike. There are occasions when I have ridden that motorbike for four hours, but then an observer has no idea what I go through after doing that. If someone sees me walk to the shops without a stick, they can’t make any assumptions about what I can do the next day, or even an hour later.

A major flaw in public thinking, and in the Work Capability Assessment, is the idea that if a person can do something once, they can do it again. I can choose to do a task at the expense of a day, a week, or however long in bed. I couldn’t do that task every day. I certainly couldn’t do it all day every day. I can sign my name, but I can’t write a page of text. I can commute to work, once, but couldn’t get home again. I could set up a whole website in a couple of hours in the middle of the night, but I couldn’t do it all day every day for a living, or tell you when I could next do it. Other people with health problems might be able to mow their lawn, put up a shelf or paint a wall, but at a similar cost to their health along with the associated recovery time. Living on benefits, as many of these people do, they are poor. They can’t afford to pay someone to do these jobs necessary in everyday life, and so they do them themselves, and pay the health costs later. Yet neighbours and passers-by see them doing these tasks, and instead of asking “can I help?” they phone the DWP and report them as a benefit fraudster.

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source?

0.5% to 2.5% ?? so a variation of 2% ? Can you cite a source for this ?

I personally don't beleive you. I know of several areas where it is within the culture to "all claim" as much as possible, whilst topping up with whatever else. It's a gravytrain for some people.

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w/e

hear hear. WHY cant you support yourself using your computer? Plenty of others manage it.

when did i owe you an easy life while i have to work long hours ?

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Re: source? @Paul 172

I think the variation is for different kinds of benefits - eg, 0.5% for DLA, 2.5% for Jobseekers etc. These aren't the actual figures, it's just how I understood the sentence.

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Joke

Obviously......

this is just a fabrication, because nobody wants to be out of work, do they? *Rolls eyes

but in saying that, it is quite amusing what people can come up with, if only there was a way for us to put that creativity to good use....

how about giving them jobs as script writers? many of the comedy shows on the beeb and such like are terrible, i dont think they could do any worse.

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WTF?

... but what if they're genuine

Just for a moment, let's imagine that some of those 'excuses' are genuine reasons - specifically the last two.

"He lives in a caravan in the drive, we're not together."

"He does come here every night and leave in the morning and although he has no other address I don't regard him as living here."

So, you have a friend, and they're technically homeless. Maybe they've got a month between moving out of one house and being able to move into another, maybe they've been crashing on your sofa for a bit longer, because, y'know, you're cool about these things. And sure, you're only living in a small one-bedroom house, but you're on benefits, and you can't afford anything more.

So, the benefits people turn up. They don't actually care too much about him living in the house (except for council tax, which we'll ignore for now), what they're far more interested in is establishing that you two are actually a couple. At which point, they'll ask where he sleeps, and make tutting noises as you say he sleeps on the sofa or in the caravan. They'll ask where he keeps his food, and explain, in a voice that gets louder and more forceful as you attempt to get a word in edgeways, that because you don't have separate food storage areas, you are technically a couple.

So, now you're a benefit fraudster, lost your benefits, he's lost his and you're both out on your ear. It's happened to my friends more than once.

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Unhappy

Exactly

I live with my best friend and we are of opposite genders. He is a benefits claimant and I work. We are not a couple. We have separate bedrooms and computer equipment but share most everything else (technically the TV, sofa, etc. are mine, but whatever). I am absolutely petrified that if an inspection were to occur that the council would determine that we were 'as good as together' and stop his benefits, making him reliant on me... until of course we could find a time to go our separate ways when he would go straight back on benefits in order to rent a more expensive one bedroom flat to himself... so really they would have just fucked over our perfectly good living arrangements and made things more expensive for themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

bull

So your friend, who is working, sleeps on your couch, using your electricity and your water and your food without contributing anything despite the fact that it is you who is claiming benefits? Well thats okay then. However, if he contributes to your electricity, water and food bills then thats fraud because your benefit is based on you paying the bills without any help from either a spouse (common law or otherwise) or a lodger. Oh, and if your friend isn't working then he must officially be listed as living somewhere else and getting benefits for that address. Again that is fraud.

I personally know many people who have been on benefits for a long time (I'm from one of the worst employment blackspots in the UK) and have, in fact, never officially worked for longer than a month or two. The majority of these personal acquaintances live in a nice house, paid for by the government, better than the one I'm struggling to buy, and fully loaded with the latest gadgets. They get the house through having kids and the gadgets through working on the side or not "officially" living together. These people have decided that this is their way of life and they exploit it to the full. There are of course the other side, those who have descended into drink and drugs and/or a life of crime, but again it is their choice.

I also know people who have worked for 10/20 years or more and now find find themselves unemployed for an extended period. A couple don’t get any benefits at all because they foolishly saved while they worked and are now being punished for it. But dont worry, either they will find a job or their savings will run out and they will then get benefits. All of them (except for one who is near retirement anyway) are actively seeking employment.

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Fully agree

"I didn't declare my savings because I didn't save them, they were given to me."

That can actually be a simple misunderstanding, from someone who may not have a great understanding of the english language.

Personally i dont blame them, Since been made redundant We have been told we will only get 550 for rent as that is the fair price for rent for a 2 bed flat, and where i live the cheapest 2 bed flat we could get at the time was 650. The waiting list for council housing is 3 years. So yes they will help me just not enough.

Trying to get help from the goverment is like drawing blood from a stone on a planet 4 lightyears away.

Having the Goverment take money off you, is the simplest thing in the world for them.

they can back date however long they like. We can only backdate up to three months and thats only under special circumstances.

So when the goverment claim Foul play FUCK em, they dont play fair either so when they get butt fucked by somebody this is the reason.

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Anonymous Coward

Quite right

Actually, that's not the only story that is quite feasible. I can't say for sure how things work over there, but here in the States when it comes to any form of social benefits the standard appears to be "guilty until you prove you're innocent and then you're still not getting any back benefits." An example pulled from this list that I have some personal familiarity with:

"My wallet was stolen so someone must have been using my identity, I haven't been working".

A relative of mine, shortly after her divorce, /was/ working, but not making nearly enough to support her and her two children (and her deadbeat ex- wasn't paying a dime of support for the kids at the time). So she was eligible for a variety of social aid programs (because the U.S. of A. can't do things nice and simple and have a single benefit program). This worked fine for about 6 months - until she became the victim of minor identity theft. Not a big deal as identity theft goes, it appears that someone just needed a clean identity to pass a background check for... you got it... a job.

Next thing you know, her benefits are cut off (first one, then all the others in rapid succession) and she gets a VERY nasty letter telling her that she should have reported her new job. Best part of the joke? She still had her real, low paying job, and they knew it. They also knew about "her" new job 300 miles away - that she was allegedly doing simultaneously (no, it wasn't something where telecommuting was even a possibility). It took over a month for her to finally get someone a) smart enough, and b) with enough authority to acknowledge and deal with the fact that she could not possibly be doing both jobs, and something was obviously incorrect. Then, even after that, there was the delay in actually getting things started again...

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people likr you are why

the only people to get a fair crack from the benefits agency are the fraudsters. if you devote the time and enery of a full time job to playing the systems you do uk, if you bowl up like some schmo expecting the system to be fair, you get screwed.

benefit fraud in the uk costs a fraction of tax fraud, yet 10 times the effort goes into detecting/recovering beenfit fraud.

kinda sounds like the legislators see tax fiddlers as being in some way _People Like Us_ and consequently give them an easy ride. b ut poor peopl _Nothing Like Us_ so lets get them.

the system is made complex to dicourage claims, and because it's complex it's open to abuse

go figure

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Facepalm

Whoa there, hoss

"However, if he contributes to your electricity, water and food bills then thats fraud because your benefit is based on you paying the bills without any help from either a spouse (common law or otherwise) or a lodger."

She's not claiming any benefits, she has a job.

Still, don't let the facts deter you from convicting them both of fraud.

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He is a benefits claimant and I work.

"He is a benefits claimant and I work."

If unemployment benefit - tell him it's about time he got a job - you go to work to pay for him not to.

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@AC 11:21

Try reading the post, moron. The poster works. Their friend who is lodging with them is on benefits.

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No.

No, you don't. This is the same horseshit that is trotted out *every* time.

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Anonymous Coward

give up barkingmad

you wont get much support from people on here, apparently everyone out of work wants to work, nobody is happy or better off not working

They are also happy that the govenment borrows £100s of billions a year to pay for all they things we want, but that doesnt matter, everyone wants to save money as long as it doesnt effect them.

Or lets look at it another way, the govenment has to borrow around 10% if our total GDP to prop up the budget. So lets look at it in a way that doesnt use Trillions and billions, yes i know its not accurate but im only trying to get the point across

The average wage in the UK is around £23000, we'll liken that to our GDP, which will give you about £1400 after tax a month

So based on that i want you to get a credit card and spend £140 a month and only pay the minimum payment. You wont last long doing that, and if we keep that up neither will the country

Now lets scale that up, we had to borrow £160,000,000,000 (thats 160 billion) last year to pay for all these things. Total National debt including pensions is around £4,000,000,000,000 (4 trillion)

Can you imagin the intrest on that lot alone? i cant, its staggering

Why people seem to think we all live in some utopia where everyone wants to work and no one is at it, and everything will be fine, i dont know.

Crazy days, but hay, not to worry long as our own lives dont change the big picture doesnt really matter does it?

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re:Exactly

That is why a tenancy agreement and proof of rent is Essential.

If you want Government Money play by the Government Rules.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Rob 5 and Jedit

The post immediately above mine did not exist when I posted. I was responding to the original post.

As for the "Exactly" post.

If he (the unemployed one) is not claiming rent for staying at her (the employed one) house then the DSS are unlikely to give a damn. If he is claiming rent then I hope she is declaring it on her tax otherwise its tax evasion. Also, if he is claiming rent then the DSS will have already done some form of investigation to determine how much of that rent they will pay.

As it is, the DSS have not stopped his benefits, have not investigated them for cohabiting, have not made any determination of their status other than they are independently living at the same address (he's getting the benefits for it). The fact that she is scared that the DSS will make a determination that they are cohabiting does not mean that the DSS will make that determination.

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Meh

Uhh

He is disabled and I don't mind my tax money being used to help genuine people like him. Nor, as a matter of fact, the genuinely unemployed and looking for work. If I were in that situation I'd like people to help me out, too.

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Angel

Lodgers and Tax

Dear AC, your facts are wrong.

Useful information for all who are not already privy:

Under the government's "Rent-a-Room" scheme, you may receive up to £4,250 a year in rent TAX-FREE. This income does not have to be declared for tax purposes. This is designed to make it easier for people to rent out part of their family home.

See here; http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/MoneyTaxAndBenefits/Taxes/TaxOnPropertyAndRentalIncome/DG_4017804

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Re: Lodgers and Tax

You are assuming that:

1. Any rent is less than £80 per week. If it is more than this then it has to be declared.

2. She doesn't fill in a self assessment form which has a section for rental income and must be filled in no matter how much the rent is.

Therefore you can not determine that the AC's facts are wrong.

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so...

he should get a bloody job ?

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WTF?

wtf

"He is a benefits claimant and I work."

If unemployment benefit - tell him it's about time he got a job - you go to work to pay for him not to.

--how did this post get 11 downvotes ???? Why shouldn't he go and get a job ? I might have totally misread the readership of this site.... Are we not all hard-working IT professionals ? Are there 11 layabouts to every 2 workers ? How do you pay for your internet connections ? Just wonderin.....

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source?

again...... can you provide a source for your "stats" ?

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Anonymous Coward

it seems.....

that the vast majority on the readership of this site dont mind spending a collosal amount of money on people who MAY not want to work, im guessing the clues in the red ;)

you just have to mention that the state of the country is crap and that SOME people are happy to live off Benifits and youll get downvoted, lets see how much this one gets,

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"Why shouldn't he just go get a job?"

Because sometimes the job just isn't there. Employers pass you over for the jobs you're not qualified for because they can find someone who is; they pass you over for the jobs you're overqualified for because "you'll only move onto something better as soon as it appears". After a while your skills get out of date and you can't even get the jobs you're trained for any more. Eventually, employers start passing you over because you've been unemployed for a long time and so there *must* be something wrong with you, or you'd have found a job by now.

Unemployment is a trap, and it can be very hard to escape. Every time I see some clueless fuckwit holding forth that "unemployed people could get jobs if they really wanted" I feel an overpowering urge to pick up a shotgun and create a vacancy, because these people are the same kind of people who *do* think "I won't employ him, he's been unemployed so he must be lazy".

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Anonymous Coward

not forgetting

"we had a jolly nice dinner with your boss and he agreed it was unreasonable to expect us to pay the hundreds of millions of tax we owe" - although thats been used a number of times so maybe it doesn't count as 'sensational' any more.

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How do these excuses compare ...

... with the excuses given by MPs for fiddling their expenses while complaining about those awful benefit claimants?

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"Is it coz i is gay?"

Indeed. And so unlikely does it seem that anyone ever, as part of a real conversation, put these words together in this order:

"I never noticed her leaving the house twice a day in a fluorescent jacket and a Stop Children sign."

- that it looks like the miscreants of Parliament are producing propaganda to encourage hatred of the poor, while continuing to demand receipt-free expenses for themselves.

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Joke

Shirley that should be

Lord Fraud.

Or is that a Freudian slip?

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Anonymous Coward

There will be

Just get him to be interviewed by Paxman. With Mr Hunt together for added benefit.

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FAIL

As Latent existence says, there is an agenda here

The last Labour and current ConDem government wish to transform the benefit system from something with the general aim of helping the genuinely sick or badly off, and to assist to work where possible, into a way into giving large amounts of taxpayer cash to large multi-nationals that might give them a directorship later.

The %age of fraud is ridiculously low, the DWP figure for Incapacity Benefit, the benefit being phased out, is 0.04%

The depth of the collusion between business and government is better explained here

http://www.lwbooks.co.uk/journals/articles/rutherford07.html

But of course, the government hopes that lazy journos just take the press release, and never challenge the narrative

Well done Lester! Doing exactly what was hoped of you

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Benefit fraud is a joke

Just look at how our MPs/MEPs treat their benefits....

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Joke

Lord Freud?

> Lord Freud, Welfare Reform Minister, said: ...

Surely that name must be a fraudian slip?

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Megaphone

Propaganda

ALL Government ministers use the taxpayers money to cheat!, just because they're not caught, or it's not reported, doesn't mean they don't do it.

This news spew out is just more propaganda, Government and those who work in the system fiddle more in a day than the very small number of benefits "cheats" do in a lifetime, it's just more slight of hand.

The UK has one of the lowest benefits payout in Europe, people on them can't live, they just exist, they have to decide "do they have the light on tonight, or the TV", and don't heat the house, because they can't.

This propaganda is just kicking the poor people when they are down.

About 15 years ago my local council received a massive payout from Europe to renovate it's houses, they sat on it in the bank for 10 years, then used a cowboy firm to only fit central heating.

Then went on a spending spree building court houses, council offices etc.

The council in the next county received the same, but renovated all it's houses withing 2 years, central heating, re wired, re plastered, modernised, and did out the gardens too.

So who are the crooks?

I think we have all become aware of our way of thinking being manipulated by the system, and it won't wash anymore. if they want to save money, stop paying for the Banksters, and stop going to war to supply the rich with oil, gas, opium

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Re: Propaganda

>The UK has one of the lowest benefits payout in Europe

You've just made my day, I haven't laughed so hard for quite a while.

Please back this up with real figures and then go present them to the army of potential illegal immigrants waiting outside Calais.

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Unhappy

Chris W What?

immigrants aren't interested in benefits, they travel to another country looking to work earn money and pay taxes. illegal immigrants are most defiantly not interested in benefits as they will not be entitled to them.

<---- Here is a ball go and bounce it in Daily Mail fairy land where you belong.

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@AC: Not quite right

"immigrants aren't interested in benefits, they travel to another country looking to work earn money and pay taxes. illegal immigrants are most defiantly not interested in benefits as they will not be entitled to them."

They travel to another country looking to work to earn money - definitely true, and they tend to work a damn site harder than the locals as they often come from extremely poor/harsh circumstances and are grateful of the opportunity. Looking to pay taxes - can't agree with you there. Plenty of them like working cash in hand and I certainly don't hold it against them as successive Governments have shown they don't deserve the money through income tax, let them collect it through more efficient cycling of the money through goods and services whereby others get to share.

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