Welfare Fraud: Billions for Zeros

We need to revisit Remi Fakorede, who invented phantom disabled children to amass an impressive £1 million. But it was not her fault, she told the judge in 2008. A “voodoo man” who had already killed her mother with a curse warned Remi that if she did not cooperate in the scam she would lose her fingers.

Most immigrants don’t cheat on benefits, although the knowledge that Britain has a welfare state is a powerful attractant. When they get here they are encouraged to apply for their “entitlements” with claims forms available in no fewer than 165 languages. Some who cheat may have been inspired by homegrown hucksters—such as the man who claimed £60,000 in disability payments for being unable to walk properly or dress himself yet won archery competitions and could drag trailers across fields. There was the rheumatoid arthritis sufferer filmed playing golf—and the woman who claimed child benefits for ten imaginary children and disability benefits for two real but non-disabled children. Then there was the Pirates of the Caribbean actor, the leading Paralympian, and an aristocrat of sorts. Even rock gods can fall: Iron Maiden’s former lead singer claimed almost £46,000 in disability, housing, and council tax payments for back problems. His error was in touring with the band while he was officially incapacitated and allowing these energetic performances to be broadcast on YouTube.

The previous government made halfhearted efforts to deal with benefit fraud—halfhearted because most of those they were investigating belonged to one or other of Labour’s client constituencies. In any case, they have a sentimental attachment to benefits, because the postwar left’s raison d’être has been to make extravagantly unaffordable promises to anyone, then shriek like banshees whenever an adult points out how feckless they’ve been.

In 2007/2008, the government spent £154 million to get £22 million back. In 2010, a trumpeted blitz on £93 million worth of benefit fraud recouped only £47,000. By the time the new government came in, the annual cost of fraud, error, and overpayments in the highly complex system (there are more than 50 benefits) was put at £5.2 billion; £1.5 billion of that was fraud.


Original source.

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