About Me

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I have been working to support disabled people to live as independently as possible and realising their individual potentials for over 20 years. I am qualified in Health and Social Care Management and Ethics and Social Welfare. All blog entries are my responses to issues I see affecting those I support and indeed myself as I joined the disabled community after surviving a stroke.

Thursday, 12 August 2010

The Dawning of The Unfair Society

Its been difficult to select the topic of my blog this week. I would have liked to have continued on the positive theme I followed last week, and saw a wonderful short film made by William Mager called Deaf Mugger, I strongly suggest you look up this film on Youtube, it will be the best 2 minutes of your day. However the quality of the film speaks for itself. And then there was PM Direct earlier this week, which I found quite painful viewing (unless you muted the volume and made up your own words to go along with David Cameron's hand gestures which made it quite entertaining), and comments made on welfare reform and benefit cheats. So I'm back to the negative again.

I'm fed up of hearing of politicians bleating on about a fairer society, it didn't wash in the pre-election debates hence the hung parliament, and its not washing now. I have yet to see evidence of how society is going to become fairer. Lets have a look at what's happening.

I read with dismay, but not surprise the Oxfam UK Poverty Post this week, which made an interesting and frankly believable comparison of money spent on benefit cheats and that spent on catching tax cheats, and how much the capture of fraudsters could potentially net from each category. To quote Oxfam: 'it is estimated that the total tax gap is about £120billion. Admittedly, maybe predictably, the government’s figure is closer to £40 billion. In contrast, benefit fraud and official error combined cost £3.1billion last year.' Hmm so not fraud alone. But Oxfam don't finish there: HMRC spent the grand sum of £633,284 their anti-tax fraud advertising campaign last year with nothing spent in the previous 2 years as opposed to £17.5million spent tackling benefit fraud over the same 3 year period.

That doesn't speak of a fair society to me, and who has been passing comment on this benefit fraud crackdown? non-other than Chris Grayling, Conservative MP for the not exactly poverty stricken constituency of Epsom and Ewell, a man possibly best known for comparing the Moss Side area of Manchester to The TV show The Wire and according to press reports during the UK politicians expenses scandal claimed for a flat in Pimlico, London when his constituency home is a mere 17 miles away, as well owning a 2 additional properties in nearby Wimbledon claiming over £100,000 of taxpayers money in the process. It was also reported that us taxpayers paid for him to have his flat redecorated and refitted and he 'avoided' the upper expenses limit by submitting the claims over 2 years.

For each incident the press reported Mr Grayling had explanations, he claimed that he used the flat when "working very late" because he needs to "work very erratic and late hours most days when the House of Commons is sitting.', and that 'both the water and electrical systems failed "leaving the place needing a major overhaul'. All of which is possible and it is not for me to second guess the validity of his expense claims, yet I can't help but wonder if his claims were subject to the same scrutiny as benefit claims, would they have passed? I somehow doubt it.

So forgive me but when the countries most vulnerable citizens have their backs against the wall in a benefit crackdown full of changing rules and uncertainty, I am not filled with the glow of the dawning of a fairer society, in fact quite the opposite.

To view Will Mager's Deaf Mugger video

To view Oxfam's UK Poverty Post

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