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Friday, 9 April 2010

Tory plan to stop benefits - Election Special

Tory plan to stop benefits - Election Special
9th April 2010

Tory Ba****ds plan to stop benefits -

Election Special
Many vulnerable people could lose out under the Tories' proposed 'three strikes' policy to crack down on those who repeatedly defraud the benefits system. Under the plans, those who commit benefit fraud once will lose their out-of-work benefits for three months, a second offence will attract a benefit sanction of six months, and if someone commits fraud three times they face losing their out-of-work benefits for up to three years.

Its worth pointing out that NO-ONE has ever been prosecuted for commiting fraud three times, so its hard to see how they will save money in the clamp down!!

The Tories yet again claim that more than £14 billion has been wasted on benefit fraud between 1997 and 2009, figures plucked out of thin air.

The policy follows on from last year's Tory announcement of a 'three strikes and you're out' rule to bar jobless people from claiming unemployment benefit if they turn down offers of work.
This latest proposed crackdown could catch out innocent claimants. This is because too many inaccurate payments are due to errors by the Department for Work and Pensions or the Benefits Agency and are not due to intentional fraud by the claimant.

Are the Tories going to match this with an equivalent 'three errors and you are fired' policy? The complexity of the system leads to both assessors and claimants getting things wrong. What we really need is more support for people to understand the full welfare system.

The figures the Tories are using were "deceptive" because they include overpayments by benefits agencies, not just people committing fraud.
The proposals come on top of plans already announced to clamp down on incapacity benefit claimants and get 200,000 people off benefit and into work.

Under the proposals, everyone who receives a reasonable job offer will be expected to accept it. If they do not, they will lose one month's unemployment benefit. If they refuse a second reasonable offer, they will lose three months' benefit. If they refuse a third reasonable offer, they will be excluded from further out-of-work benefits for up to three years.

For example, a couple claiming jobseeker's allowance (JSA) would forgo £92.80 a week - more than half their total income, assuming they also claim housing and council tax benefits. For parents on JSA or incapacity benefit (IB), they could lose between a quarter and a third of their income if they fail to comply with the conditions of the welfare programme.

The shadow secretary for work and pensions, (Conservative Party) Chris Grayling, thinks it's time to take "tough action against those who are deliberately staying at home and claiming benefits rather than going back into work. We think that if you get a reasonable job offer, you should take it - and if you don't, then you can't expect to be able to carry on claiming out-of-work benefits."

The Tory proposals are part of a new policy aimed at ending automatic entitlements to benefits and replacing it with the offer of benefits on condition that people make an effort to get work".
Further measures are expected to include restrictions on claimants who walk out on work for no good reason.

The Tories' proposals for a compulsory interview for the 2.6 million people claiming IB came under fire from the government, Liberal Democrats and charities. The work and pensions secretary (Labour Government), Peter Hain, said: "They are unfundable, unworkable and unfair. "They are an attempt to copycat our proposals with one main difference - the Tories have made no provision for the skills training needed for those on incapacity benefit, so they would have difficulty holding down a job".

Their plans to interview 2.6 million people would also be prohibitively expensive.
Cameron needs to bear in mind the 40% of IB claimants who have mental health problems. Continuing stigma and discrimination also means many employers will not employ people with mental health problems.

Liberal Democrat work and pensions spokesman Danny Alexander said: "Once again, the Tories have missed the point about welfare reform. Millions of sick and disabled people want to work, but the government has failed to provide the tailored support they need to find a job."

Withdrawing benefits will drive people into debt and destitution and homelessness, entrenching poverty rather than tackling its causes. Crackdowns further stigmatise people on benefits, by giving the impression that most claimants are cheating the system. In fact, over 99% of claimants are not committing benefit fraud.

Richard Easson Jacques
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