Benefit claimants, the new criminals

Wed, 29/04/2015 - 13:32 -- nick

We have grown used to the coalition demonising workless people.

They appear to have struck political oil, finding a way of describing cuts that make many people poorer - and some destitute - and no-one richer which actually make the government more popular.

There is a fundamental dishonesty to this, the 'success' of which can be seen in a TUC poll showing on average that people believe 27% of benefits are claimed fraudulently when the real figure is only 0.7%, a huge gap that has been stoked by the coalition's 'strivers v skivers' story.

Confidence has been growing there is yet more electoral mileage in this assault, and the Tories are keen to extend the misery with a new £23,000 annual benefit cap that will remove the poor from vast swathes of London and the south-east so they are no longer visible to the law makers.

Now though the government may finally have over-reached itself with a moral tipping point in the process having been breached.

A University of Glasgow study has found that more money is now raised from benefit sanctions than from criminal fines.

Dr David Webster showed how the numbers stacked up:

"In Great Britain in 2013, there were 1,046,398 sanctions on Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, 32,128 on Employment and Support Allowance claimants, and approximately 44,000 on lone parent recipients of Income Support. By contrast, Magistrates’ and Sheriff courts imposed a total of only 849,000 fines. Sanctioned benefit claimants are treated much worse than those fined in the courts. The scale of penalties is more severe (£286.80 - £11,185.20 compared to £200 - £10,000)."

Higher fines, more raised in total, more people punished.

In other words unemployed people are now treated worse for 'offences' as troubling as not attending one appointment or not applying for one job than they could be for violently beating someone in the street.

There is more; even after this government increased the maximum deduction from benefits for court fines in 2011 they still stand at only £25 at most, while someone on JSA can lose the lot, more than £73 each week.

There is supposed to be a hardship fund that covers some living costs for the sanctioned, but many aren't even told they are eligible.

The kind of mentality that believes someone deserves to be punished for being without work more harshly than for thefts, muggings and assaults is hard to understand.

The Conservative Party doesn't just believe it, they boast about it, and this moral failure shows why they are unfit to be a part of government.