I keep banging on about benefits. I'm not on benefits. I work part time, and I no longer qualify for DLA support. I am a "hard working taxpayer" I don't get Working Tax Credits, I don't need Housing Benefit, I don't have kids so I don't need Child Maintenance.
So why do I bang on about benefits if I'm not on them? Well, I think as a country we have a duty to support people that need support. I pay my taxes in part to a system that is there to help people feed and clothe and house themselves if they can't afford to do so. If people are ill or disabled and need help to live a decent life, I am glad that my taxes help provide that.
The Tory / LibDem government are now making it very, very clear that their attacks on the benefits system are nothing but an ideological desire to see fewer people getting help. They don't care about the number of people that actually need help, they just want to give it to as few people as they can get away with.
There is evidence to show that tax fraud costs this country in the region of 15 times as much as benefit fraud. ( http://citywire.co.uk/money/tax-evasion-costs-treasury-15-times-more-than-benefit-fraud/a378274 ) and yet it is benefit fraud that repeatedly makes newspaper headlines, TV programmes (the BBC produced a whole series called "Saints and Scroungers"), and public perception is, unsurprisingly given the unbalanced coverage it gets, that a far higher percentage of people claiming benefits are fraudulent than is the case.
Would you believe that the public thought 50 to 70 percent of benefit claims were fraudulent?! Actually, it's closer to 0.5 percent. ( http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/2011/12/14/disabled-people-media-attacks/ )
So Disability Living Allowance is going to be reformed, and the government want to reduce its cost by 20%. Given fraudulent claims for DLA account for less than half a percent of claimants, that means not removing money from people that don't need, it means cutting support from up to a fifth of people that are disabled and do need support.
What can we do about this?
I have been emailing Lords, and my MP to encourage them to stand up for disabled people, and to not allow the Welfare Reform Bill to continue as it is.
We have been tweeting about what's going on. Using the hashtags #wrb #DLA and #spartacusreport . I also use #fuckyoutorybastards where I feel it's appropriate. It helps my mental health, and that's an important thing to look after!
The Responsible Reform report is an amazing report looking at the way the DLA reform is being carried out, and proves the government have not listened to disabled people when they've said they have, have lied to parliament, and haven't carried out their consultation in a way they meets their own rules. Read this, share this. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/responsiblereformDLA
Sign Pat's Petition: http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/20968