Over the past year there’s been a lot of focus on benefit fraud with those who claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) being closely investigated. DLA provides financial support for those who aren’t fit to work, whereas ESA provides personalised training and customised financial support to help those with mild disabilities to enter the workplace. The main reason behind the clamp down on benefit fraud on disability claims is the cost to the government, which is an estimated £3bn a year.
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Benefit Fraud in the News
Almost every day a new case emerges in the headlines exposing fraudsters and highlighting their benefit fraud punishments which can range from a suspension in benefits to a fine; or in severe cases a prison sentence. Charities which support the disabled people in society have been concerned about the media emphasis on disability benefits as they fear that disabled people have been given the tag of ‘scroungers’ despite being fully entitled to claim the disability benefits. Some disabled people have reportedly even been victims of abuse or have at least been made to feel uncomfortable by other members of society.
Who's Suffering from Benefit Fraud in the Media?
According to disabled charity Scope, abuse towards the most vulnerable people in society increased from 41% to almost 70% in the four months leading to September 2011. Charities are blaming the government’s honing in on disability benefits thieves saying that their claims are causing tension between disabled people and other members of society. Many Brits are suffering financially as a result of the struggling economy, benefit’s thieves in particular anger the British public as the media continually highlights that it’s technically the tax payer’s money these thieves are stealing. This leaves tax payers thinking “why am I paying for these people to live when I can barely feed my children?”
The problem is it’s the vulnerable people who rely on these benefits to live who are suffering – not the benefit thieves who’ve wrongly claimed the money. After the government announced they are intending to cut Disability Living Allowance by 20% by 2015/2016, disabled people have lived in worry that they may have their benefits revoked. They now allegedly also have to contend with abuse from the public. Some disabled people have even admitted to avoiding leaving the house unless absolutely necessary. Whilst benefit thieves need to be dealt with accordingly, the disabled community shouldn’t be condemned or made to feel ashamed that they are receiving government funded financial support.
The government have been performing further health checks on the disabled to review benefit entitlement and get people back into work where possible. Many disabled people are living in fear that they may be made to work when they’re unfit to. In some disabilities you can have good days and bad days which makes working consistently hard to achieve and could scupper chances of a steady income.
Some disabled people have found things to be so bad for them that they believe society is going backwards and disabled people are once again being viewed negatively by the rest of society.
Here at Gray and Co Solicitors we understand it can be incredibly hard for disabled people to cope with the reform to the welfare system. We understand that, whilst some benefit thieves commit the offence with intent, a genuine error can occur. If you’re worried you’ve been claiming a higher benefit than you’re entitled to then speak to one of our benefit fraud solicitors. We can provide you with legal support, empathise with your circumstances and will by no means be judgemental.