Tag Archives: lord freud

Fraud And Error Soaring In Universal Credit And Benefit Underpayments Hit Record High

lord-fraud-freud

The UK’s biggest benefit scammer Lord Fraud.

Fraud and error in the Universal Credit system is soaring whilst the rate of benefits going unpaid overall has hit a ten year high national statistics released last week have shown.

Statistics examining fraud and error within the benefit’s system are released annually and this is the first year that Universal Credit has been included. Almost 250,000 people are currently claiming the new benefit which is set to eventually replace all mainstream out of work benefits along with tax credits and housing benefit. One of the reasons given by ministers for such sweeping changes to social security was that Universal Credit would help cut fraud and error within the system. Last week’s statistics show that the opposite is happening.

Over-payments due to fraud and error make up 7.3% of Universal Credit’s total expenditure – higher than any other benefit the DWP administrates. The over-payment rate for Jobseeker’s Allowance, the benefit with the nearest comparable caseload of claimants, is just 5%.

Universal Credit’s performance is equally woeful when it comes to people being underpaid their benefits with 2.6% of expenditure not going to those entitled to it. Almost all of this is down to offical rather than claimant error, and once again, it is higher than any other DWP benefit.

Underpayments across all benefits hit 1% last year, the highest figure since comparable figures began in 2005.  And in another record for the DWP, the rate of benefits claimed fraudulently also hit a ten year high – although there is more to be said about this below.

To read lying bastard Lord Fraud’s gushing press release which accompanied these statistics you would not know any of this. Fraud and error combined is at a record low according to the Minister for Welfare Reform, when the truth is that the figure is unchanged since last year. The department also points out that both claimant and official error have fallen to record lows and makes no mention of the rise in fraud that has offset this. Neither do they mention the rise in under-payments.

The truth, as the Office for National Statistics (ONS) explains, is that in 2013/14 a change in how fraud and error were recorded resulted in many cases which were previously viewed as being an error being re-classified as fraud. This is the reason that errors in the most recent period are at record lows and also the reason that fraud over-payments are at record highs. According to the ONS this change means that “results post 2013/14 cannot be directly compared with the earlier results”. Yet that’s exactly what the DWP has done in an attempt to hide the truth about fraud and error within the system.

Despite all this, what the figures show is that fraud within the benefit’s system is very low, at just 0.9% of total expenditure. And even then these figures are rigged to maximise the chances of payments being recorded as claimant fraud rather than error.

The fraud and error statistics are collected by carrying out ‘benefit reviews’ on a small percentage of claimants and then using the outcomes of these reviews to calculate an approximate figure across the entire benefits system. What this means is that a claimant will receive a letter and then be expected to attend an interview where they will be interrogated about their benefit claim. These reviews are carried out at random, so if you get a letter about it don’t shit yourself and try to establish if this is a fraud ivestigation or a benefit review. Fraud investigations are usually carried out under caution, whereby anything you say may be used against you in a court of law.  You should be informed of this.

Two of the more common outcomes to these reviews are that the claimant is untraceble or found to be abroad. This is automatically viewed as being fraud when it could simply be that the claimant has moved house, informed the DWP and it has not been correctly recorded. It could also mean a landlord is still picking up housing benefit payments for a tenant that has long since moved out. Not all benefit fraud is carried out by benefit claimants.

Sometimes when a claimant is scheduled for review they report a change in circumstances or end their claim during the process. Again this is automatically recorded as fraud when it could just be a coincidence and simply mean they got a job. The same applies when there is a ‘loss of claimant contact’ meaning the benefit review is not completed for some unspecified reason. For the purposes of these statistics, an outcome of fraud does not mean someone has been prosecuted, or that a fraud has been admitted. It simply means that benefits were reduced or stopped as a result of the review and the DWP believes that the claimant was deliberately acting fraudulently.

Even with this calculated book-cooking the statistics show one stark fact. The total amount of money lost through fraud in 2015/16 was £1.6 billion and this is less than the amount of benefits which were underpaid which stands at £1.8 billion. Someone’s getting shafted alright, but it’s not the DWP, it’s us. Check your claim, make sure you’re getting every fucking penny you are entitled to.

Read the most recent Fraud and Error statistics and the background notes on how they are calculated (pdf).

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Tory Think Tank Gives The Game Away – Benefit Sanctions Are About Keeping Wages Low

The 'reservation wage' is an economic term which means the lowest possible amount that greedy bosses can get away with paying people.

The ‘reservation wage’ is an economic term which means the lowest possible amount that greedy bosses can get away with paying people.

 

A chilling vision of the future has been presented by Tory think-tank Reform who have called for all out of work sickness and disability benefits to be scrapped, even for the most seriously ill, alongside a Jobcentre programme of forced medical treatment.

In a report published this month Reform argue that paying those with serious health conditions more money than those simply on the dole acts as a disincentive to find employment.  Instead every claimant, no matter how unwell, should receive just over £70 a week, although they concede that this should be combined with an increase in Personal Independence Payments – the benefit paid to those either in or out of work which is intended to cover the additional costs of living with a disability.   Many people on out of work sickness benefits are not eligible for these payments however.

The report also calls for increased conditionality for sickness benefits including a mandatory occupational health plan.  This could involve a requirement to take up medical treatment with the threat of benefit sanctions for non-compliance.  Astionishingly this treatment plan would not be agreed with a claimant’s GP but would instead be drawn up by a ‘Healthcare Professional’ working under the supervision of an Occupational Health specialist.  Reform generously warn that sanctions would have to be carefully applied – they are opposed to people being sanctioned because they didn’t get better they claim – but elsewhere they raise the prospect of a sanction being inflicted because someone failed to follow the correct state-mandated diet.  North Korea eat your fucking heart out.

This system should be tested on those with a mild to moderate health condition the think tank declare although it is unclear where they would draw the line between a moderate condition and for example, someone who’s only got a few months to live.  In fact those with a terminal illness, or the most serious health conditions, are completely overlooked by the report’s authors who presumably see nothing wrong in dying people being bullied into low paid work for the last few weeks of their life.

As ever there is lots of talk of working in partnership with claimants, with even proposed personal budgets to access ’employment support’, although all this means is you’ll get to choose your own workfare provider, and even then you won’t really have a choice. Quality training leading to real qualifications is expensive, so as with all welfare-to-work scheme to date, you’ll get what you’re given and if you don’t like it then you’ll get sanctioned.  That’s what they mean by choice.

The real reason for these proposals are not to help people but to save money and help Iain Duncan Smith acheive his aim of throwing one million people off sickness benefits by pretending that they aren’t really sick or disabled anymore.  And as the quote above taken from the report indicates, ensuring strict conditions for benefits helps keep down the ‘reservation wage’ – the minimum amount that people are prepared to work for.  The inference is clear, those on sickness benefits should be pushed into the lowest possible paid work as quickly as possible.  The only flimsy evidence available that work is good for your health is quite clear that this only applies if you have a good job.  Reform want to force sick and disabled people into work which is likely to be harmful as a lesson to the rest of us not to get ill in case we become unproductive and the profit that the rich glean from our work might fall slightly.

It remains to be seen how seriously the government will take these proposals as they draw up plans for sweeping reforms of sickness and disability benefits.  Cuts already announced will soon slash the rate of sickness benefits to the same rate as the dole for many new claimants.  Reform’s desire to extend this to everybody needs to be taken seriously because they are not swivel-eyed cranks of the fringes of the debate, even if that’s what they sound like at times.  They were recently graced with the presence of Lord Fraud, the comedy toff brought in to oversee welfare reforms who these days is being kept very much behind the scenes.  Fraud was invited to a roundtable meeting at Reform as part of this report’s launch and whilst what he said has not been made public there are some hints available of a possible new direction.

This blogger was at the discussion and reports that Fraud raised the possibility of privatised social security, raising the question of why employer’s ensure against sickness absences but individuals do not.  It is also reported that Fraud said there would soon be no additional benefits paid for anyone with a health condition or disability suggesting Reform may have already got one of their key demands met*.

With George Osborne bottling out of cuts to Tax Credits for the lowest paid workers the only place left to look for significant savings in the social security system is disability and sickness benefits.  As such both him and Iain Duncan Smith have deluded themselves that this can easily be achieved by making life so difficult for disabled people on benefits that they will magically get better and go to work. Osborne’s spending projections depend on it.  The cuts already announced will just be the start.  War is soon to be waged on disabled people and those with long term health conditions like never before.  Be ready.

You can read Reform’s report at: http://www.reform.uk/publication/working-welfare-a-radically-new-approach-to-sickness-and-disability-benefits/

*It should be pointed out that the blogger who wrote this is a private consultant who runs a company claiming to be experts in public services reform and as such he’s possibly talking a load of old shite and has got what Fraud said mixed up with what was proposed by Reform.

Join the fight to keep Jobecntres out of healthcare – please help support the protest outside City Road Medical Centre, 190-196 City Road , London, EC1V 2QH on Friday 4th March from 3pm by helping spread the word and sharing the facebook page.

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How Lord Fraud’s Benefit Rules For Self-Employed Workers Will Mean The End Of Enterprise

lord-fraud-freud1Fuck entrepreneurs.  Seriously.  Fuck them.  Most of them are are chinless jumped up idiots squandering their trust funds and boring everyone shitless with their latest wacky idea for raspberry fucking flavoured baked beans.  Or online spivs like Grant Shapps ripping off the public with fake websites and get rich quick schemes.

If you’re poor then the local entrepreneur is likely to be the person people buy their smack from, or your landlord, or someone you borrow fifty quid off knowing some bastard with a baseball bat will probably turn up if you can’t afford to pay it back on time.

Having said that, millions of people are now scraping an income as self-employed workers.  Whether being shafted by online micro jobs that pay 50p for an hour’s work, or working on building sites and forced to register as self-employed to save their employer money, a casualised, insecure and poverty paid working life is the reality of modern capitalism for many.

In his Autumn statement Geroge Osborne announced that from April this year self-employed people claiming Working Tax Credits will have to prove that their self-employment is genuine and likely to pay them the equivalent of 24 hours a week at the minimum wage.  This is called the Minimum Income Floor and when Universal Credit is introduced (stop laughing) it will increase to 35 hours for those without young children or a significant health condition.  A sinister bunch of ghouls called Concentrix have already been hired by the DWP to hound self-employed people claiming Working Tax Credits.  Thousands of people have received letters demanding they prove their self-employment is genuine or accusing them of fraud and expecting them to prove their innocence.

There is no easily found information on Government websites explaining when and how changes to Working Tax Credits for the self-employed will be introduced.  Not for the first time when it comes to Iain Duncan Smith’s shambolic welfare reforms, nobody, including claimants themselves, has a clue what is going on.

What we do know however is that the changes that are planned under Universal Credit will prove devastating for many self-employed people.

Claimants who want to register as self-employed will first have to pass a DWP Dragon’s Den style test with Jobcentre busy-bodies and persuade them that their self-employment is ‘gainful activity’ and expected to make a profit.  Just think about that for a second.  Imagine trying to explain a business concept like facebook or instagram to a DWP Work Coach who can barely work a smart phone.  The Mark Zuckerberg’s of the future will probably end cleaning the bogs in Poundland on workfare schemes rather than creating innovative online products.  Good.  Fuck entrepreneurs.

But think about people working in the creative sector, freelance journalists, actors or musicians.  Or those in the sex industry, or other fringe sectors which are not easily understood by Jobcentre Work Coaches.  Can we really trust that these groups are likely to be considered gainfully self-employed and granted the 12 month start up period during which claimants are exempt from the Minimum Income Floor?  And this is only the start of the bodged process set to be inflicted on the self-employed.

Once the initial 12 month start up period is over then the DWP wil assume earnings of 35 hours a week at the minimum wage when calculating benefits, including Housing Benefit.  That’s 35 hours every week.  No holidays, or periods of sickness will be considered in calculations.  If you have a bad month then the DWP will make it even worse by not paying you enough Housing Benefit meaning your home will be at risk.  It won’t take much.  An illness, personal crisis, a downturn, some shyster not paying on time, and people could be driven onto the streets.  How many people are likely to take that risk, when they could get more benefit by abandoning self-employment altogether and signing on the dole?

On top of this the amount of red tape is breath-taking.  Self-employed people, desperately trying to meet their Minimum Income Floor, will have to waste time sending the Jobcentre details of their income and expenses every single month.  This is in addition to their tax return.  Expenses or income cannot be carried over, so whilst if someone has a good month their benefits will be reduced, if they have a bad one then they will not be increased.  A single claimant who earns nothing in a month will have to find up to £950 to be able to pay their rent and survive for that period.  Or go on the dole.  That’s assuming the DWP will let them and don’t disallow them from benefits completely for giving up ‘gainful self-employment’.

It is genuinely astonishing that such a vicious attack on self-employed people is being launched by the party which once claimed to represent entrepreneurs and small businesses – and fuck small businesses as well, bunch of UKIP gobshites who pay their workers less than Tesco.*  These policies can only really be understood once you discover they were largely drafted by comedy toff and Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Fraud.  Out of touch ex-bankers like Fraud don’t really believe working class people can run their own businesses.  They’d far rather we were all working for people like them.  They have no concept of what life is like for low earning self-employed people scrabbling around trying to gain an income wherever they can.  And they don’t care if their welfare changes could leave someone with no money at all, even to pay their rent.  Serves them right for not working hard enough that month they will chuckle to themselves.

Nobody knows how much of the so-called fall is unemployment is down to people registering as self-employed and claiming Working Tax Credits.  What we do know is that some of them will have been bullied into this option by grasping Work Programme companies who can claim a huge job outcome fee everytime someone becomes self-employed.  Hundreds of thousands of people could be hit by these changes and many could be left with barely any money at all to survive on.  They haven’t done anything wrong.  They are both working and claiming a much lower rate of benefit than Jobseeker’s Allowance.  They just aren’t earning enough so the government is intent on making them even poorer.  The less you have the less you get, which just about sums up the last five years of Tory Government.

There’s still more to come on this.  Meanwhile see what will happen to part time workers on Universal Credit: It Had To Happen. Soon You Could Face An In-Work Benefit Sanction … For Going To Work

*Fuck Tescos as well.

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More Sanctions On The Way For Claimants With A Mental Health Condition In Scotland

work-makes-meThe DWP are currently tendering for a pilot scheme in Scotland which will see claimants on both unemployment and sickness benefits forced to attend training and possibly even workfare under the threat of benefits being stopped.

Around 450 claimants in the West of Scotland Jobcentre Plus District are expected to be forced onto the scheme if Jobcentre staff decide they have “low self esteem; and/or limited capability to manage stressful or challenging situations.”

Unlike the Work Programme, this scheme will not be aimed at people who have been on benefits for a long time.  Instead the tender documents state that those referred are likely to be people whose period of unemployment is less than 26 weeks, suggesting people could be sent from the first day of their claim.

The DWP say they expect 20% of participants to enter an “educational training course” including work experience or sector based work academies – both better known as workfare.  It is unclear whether those on the programme will be forced to move into unpaid work, however the tender clearly states that benefit sanctions will be applied in the event of “failure to attend or participate in any meeting or activity, having been notified of the requirement to attend by the Supplier”.

Worryingly this mandatory activity could include referring claimants for specialist support to “manage health conditions” or “advice related to alcohol or substance misuse”.  This could mean Jobcentre busybodies and two bit welfare-to-work companies making decisions on people’s healthcare, not doctors.

One of the key aims of this scheme will be to “promote the positive impact working has on health and well being.”   This is the latest propaganda drive from the DWP, who are also plotting four more pilot schemes around the UK aimed at people with mental health conditions.  Whilst details so far are scant on what these programmes will involve, in the DWP staff newsletter they are being justified by bungling toff Lord Fraud on the grounds that: “Work is good for your mental health”.

According the the Health and Safety Executive the total number of cases of work-related stress, depression or anxiety in 2013/14 was 487 000.  Work can make you fucking miserable, as anyone who’s ever had a real job is likely to be all too aware.

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Freud Must Go! Urgent Call Out, Monday Oct 20th Caxton House 12.30pm Or On Twitter #FreudMustGo

lord-fraud-freudAnyone who thinks Lord Fraud ‘mispoke’ or was just ‘thinking outside the box’ when he made the shameful comment that some disabled people are not worth the minimum wage has really not been paying attention.

This is the man that helped devise the despised Atos benefit assessments that have driven disabled people to suicide and ill health in the name of strippping their benefits or forcing them into endless ‘work related activity’.  The same Minister whose department introduced the Work Programme, on which sick and disabled people can be sent on workfare, potentially for months on end.  Lord Fraud was simply saying what he, and his colleagues in the DWP believe, that disabled people lead ‘wasted lives’ and as such do not deserve the same rights as other workers.  That is why this Government has introduced scheme after scheme aimed at coercing – and in some cases forcing – sick and disabled people to work without any pay at all.

There doesn’t need to be a conversation about what Lord Fraud said, as some commentators have suggested.  A conversation that is unlikely to include disabled people or claimants themselves if this week’s news coverage is anything to go by.  The man is a nasty and vindictive piece of shit.  And he needs to go, now.

Disabled People Against Cuts (DPAC) have called an emergency protest calling for his resignation tomorrow (Monday 20th Oct) at 12.30 pm outside the Department of Work and Pensions in central London.  In the words of DPAC:

“Freud is the architect of the government’s noxious welfare reform programme that is pushing disabled people off benefits and causing untold distress and misery, in too many cases leading to suicides and avoidable deaths.

The policies Freud designed show utter contempt for disabled people. His latest comments made to a Tory councillor at a party conference fringe meeting confirm this …  join us to demand Freud resigns or is sacked. Monday October 20th at DWP head office, Caxton House, Tothill Street, 12.30pm til 2.30″

If you can’t make it to the DWP you can still get involved in online action with the #FreudMustGo twitterstorm, details at: http://dftr.org.uk/Songbird.php?TweetFile=FreudMustGo

Time is short, please share, tweet etc and help get the word out.

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Disabled People Not Worth Minimum Wage Says Lord Fraud, Time For This Nasty Fucking Clown To Go

lord-fraud-freud

“Nearly everything I’ve done has been total chaos.”

Comedy toff and Minister for Welfare Reform Lord Fraud is a joke that stopped being funny a long time ago.  Of all the blundering fucking idiots in the DWP, this failed banker, who cost investors millions due to a series of bungled deals, has shown the true face of the out of touch gilded elite that dominate all of the main political parties.

This is the man who thinks people queue up in foodbanks just for a laugh and not because they are hungry.  The same prick who threatened every Women’s Refuge in the country with closure and wanted to charge the very poorest benefit claimants to have banks manage their personal finances.  The clown who doesn’t even know how much the dole actually pays despite being in charge of reforming it.

His recent comments at the Tory Party Conference, where he agreed that disabled workers are not worth the minimum wage, are a new low  If he stays in his job after this we will know the truth about attitudes towards sickness and disability at the DWP  – as if we didn’t already.  They are not just ignorant about disabled people’s lives, out of touch and incompetant.  They actively believe that disabled people are worth less than non-disabled peopl and so do not deserve the same rights as non-disabled people.  That if you are born or become sick or disabled, then you are a sub-class who should be forced into a lifetime of poverty carrying out below minimum wage work.  Is it any wonder that unpaid work is fast becoming the new segregation for many disabled workers?

Fraud revealed his rancid opinions at a conference fringe meetings when utter cunt, and Tory Councillor, David Scott (@DavidScotttw) said: “I have a number of mentally damaged individuals, who to be quite frank aren’t worth the Minimum Wage.”

Lord Fraud agreed saying: “Now, there is a small… there is a group, and I know exactly who you mean, where actually as you say they’re not worth the full wage and actually I’m going to go and think about that particular issue, whether there is something we can do nationally, and without distorting the whole thing, which actually if someone wants to work for £2 an hour, and it’s working can we actually…”

The comments came to light after Ed Miliband challenged David Cameron about Lord Fraud’s comments at Prime Minister’s Question Time today.  What Miliband didn’t mention is that this very same bastard was at the heart of Labour’s own Welfare Reforms such as the shambolic and cruel Atos run Work Capability Assessment.

Fraud enjoyed impoverishing sick and disabled people so much that when the Tory Party weren’t elected he crossed the floor and joined them so he could carry on with his sick farce.  He has been ususually frank about his incompetence, once admitting in an interview that: “Nearly everything I’ve done has been total chaos.”  But he is a nasty piece of shit as well.  In a just and moral society, both Lord Fraud and his boss Iain Duncan Smith would be put on trial for the horrific suffering their policies have caused.  In the society we’ve got the best we can hope for is that he’s shuffled off to one of his mansions and kept out of public life permanently.  It can’t fucking happen soon enough.

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DWP Are Trying To Hide The Truth But The Amount Lost To Fraud And Error Is At A Record High

lord-fraud-freudFigures released from the DWP show that benefit over-payments due to fraud and error remained at a record high of £3.3 billion in 2013/14, but you wouldn’t know this from reading the gushing press release that accompanied the statistics.

Instead the DWP boldly claims that Jobseekers Allowance and Income Support over-payments are at their lowest recorded levels.  But these represent just ten percent of the total amount lost through fraud and error.  The amount of Housing Benefit overpaid, for example, has soared to £1.38 billion and is by far the largest source of fraud and error in the system.  No-one seems to be checking how much of this figure ended up in the pockets of landlords.

With Iain Duncan Smith busy bungling the launch of Universal Credit, it was left to the Minister for Welfare Reform, the aptly named Lord Fraud, to defend the figures, which he did by if not lying through his teeth, then deliberately distorting the truth.  According to the minister: “It is encouraging to see that the level of fraud and error is now lower than before the start of the Parliament.”

The rate of over-payments dropped from 2.2% in 2009/10 to 2% in 2010/11 and has stayed there ever since.  According to the DWP themselves this is not statistically significant and could be due to inaccuracies in the data.  The cost of fraud and error however has risen since the start of this Parliament and it is this that the DWP is trying to hide.

On face value it looks like over-payments fell in the last year, from £3.5 billion to £3.3 billion.  But this is because Council Tax Benefit expenditure was not included in the figures after being scrapped in April 2013.  Over-payments in Council Tax support schemes are no longer the DWP’s problem, and so will no longer be included in the statistics.

The table below shows amount lost through fraud and error if Council Tax Benefit is also excluded from the previous year’s figures.  What it shows is that the cost of over-payments rose year on year since the election and then hit £3.3 billion for each of the last two years.  This was not explained in Lord Fraud’s press release and the real numbers can only be found in Annex 6 on the very last page of a 147 page DWP report (pdf).

fraud-errorThe truth about the amount lost to fraud and error in the benefits system is that’s it’s not very much and whilst it has risen slightly it hasn’t really changed significantly since this Government weren’t elected.  This is a huge embarrassment to Iain Duncan Smith who is currently squandering the best part of a billion pounds in an attempt to halve benefit over-payments by next year.  It is unsurprising that the DWP’s fraud and error strategy was this week given a red/amber rating (meaning it’s a fuck up) in the same Government report into major projects that revealed that Universal Credit has been ‘reset’.

The amount of money lost only to fraud in particular is very small – around a billion a year for all benefits, including pensions.  This is less than the amount of benefits which are underpaid, which stands at £1.4 billion.  The report which accompanies the over-payment statistics, contains some interesting details, such as the amount lost to fraud due to people on the dole working on the side being estimated to be as little as £59 million – about a quid a year for every person in the country.  Tax avoidance and evasion was about £35 billion in 2010/11, costing us each nearly £600 a year.  You won’t see that in a DWP press release.  Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?

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