Friday, 4 November 2011

Further thoughts on disability benefit claimants

Further thoughts on disability benefit claimants, scroungers or societies helpless?

After watching the Panorama programme last night on benefit cheats I have given it further thought. The programme itself did very well in highlighting the high levels of fraud that are prevalent within the current system, and it was particularly worrying to see a policeman involved in defrauding the taxpayer too. The programme did mention that the vast majority of claimants are honest, although this to me did seem to be an afterthought to appease people such as myself.

Whilst the previous blog I wrote on this subject may have shown a very extreme picture of what could happen, it is important to remember that the vast majority of the population have neither the time or inclination to dig deeper below the media headlines to find out the real facts and rely on programmes such as Panorama and newspapers to tell them what is happening.

The problem here is that newspapers and other media are businesses and as such need to sell newspapers or have people watch their programmes. To do this, stories may be sensationalised and not given a balanced view.

This is what I feel happened last night. Only one view was given and there was no view given from a genuine benefit claimant who would feel equally abhorrent at benefit cheats, nor was any mention given to the other people who cheat the system in other ways. The total fraud figure given was £22 billion of which £4 billion was down to benefit fraud. No mention was made of what the other £18 billion was comprised of.

This unbalanced view hugely influences the public view of benefit claimants and leads to labelling and people can feel as if they are being tried by television and a verdict is made before they are given a chance to explain themselves and give their side of why they are on benefits.

Another problem that I feel can arise is the one of theory of assumption. This is a theory of mine that has come about because of the fast pace of life that we all experience. As I have stated before many people do not have the time to dig below the surface of headlines or people, so make an assumption based on limited knowledge and apply it to everyone they come across who has a similar background, because it is easier and quicker to do this, rather than get to know the person.

The theory of assumption has come about from my own and others experiences. People assume that because I am at university I can cope with all aspects of life, but nothing could be further from the truth, and when I try to explain to people the problems I have, they look at me in disbelief as if I am lying and cheating the system, which I am not on neither count.

Labelling and assuming people seem to becoming more prevalent in today’s society, and I can only see it becoming worse as society gets faster and more intense.

Here is a link to the Panorama programme ‘Britain on the Fiddle’. The link goes to BBC iPlayer and is available for seven days:

Here are some links to the Department of work and Pensions detailing the extent of benefit fraud:

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