Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Treating Everyone like Fraudsters Is a Mistake

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Treating Everyone like Fraudsters Is a Mistake

Article excerpt

Byline: DENISE ROBERTSON

THE woman on Radio Four was a retired midwife with multiple sclerosis. She had managed to keep on working for 20 years after diagnosis and was proud of that.

Now, very disabled, she was almost weeping at the indignity of being called in for interrogation by a pilot programme designed to combat benefit fraud.

"I cringe because people will think I'm a scrounger," she said.

To listen to her was heart-breaking so why am I not railing against the government's plans? There was another call to that same programme, a man, his voice breaking with emotion.

He was caring for the wife he loved 24 hours a day. 'If a carer came in," he told the hapless government minister there to field calls, "you'd have to pay them pounds 40 an hour. You pay me 45p." The minister was temporarily at a loss for words.

That is why I'm not arguing with a tougher set of regulations as long as they are efficient and fair. For years I have seen people leech off the welfare state and draw completely undeserved benefits while the minimum was doled out to deserving cases because the cake would only stretch so far. …

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