Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Jobcentres 'tricking' people out of benefits to cut costs, says whistleblower

The Guardian (2nd April) featured a damning report on the increasing use of sanctions as a whistleblower blew the lid on this disturbing trend.

This follows my question to the Prime Minister on Wed, 30th March on the issue of the £50 civil penalty contained in the Welfare Reform Bill.

Completing complex benefit forms is a daunting task and many people make mistakes that are in no way an attempt to defraud the public purse.To then face a £50 penalty is disproportionate and unfair. If Government Departments faced a similar fine for official error, which happens on a daily basis across the country, the exchequer would benefit from millions each year.

Off course sanctions should be imposed on claimants who intentionally defraud the taxpayer but this latest proposal shows how out of touch David Cameron really is if he believes that a mistake on a claim form is intent to defraud.

Trained welfare advisers can guide applicants through completing often very complex forms, but under proposed Legal Aid reform, access to help and assistance will be ended, creating welfare advice deserts across the country.

To read the article in full click here.

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