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Guardian: Are Sun readers ready to 'Beat the Cheat' armed with the facts?

Discussion in 'General ME/CFS News' started by Firestormm, Mar 8, 2012.

  1. Firestormm


    Cornwall England
    Are Sun readers ready to 'Beat the Cheat' armed with the facts?

    7 March 2012: Comment: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/mar/07/sun-beat-the-cheat-benefits?fb=native

    by Krishna Talsania


    Not all people with a disability use a wheelchair

    'Last Wednesday Britain's best-read daily paper called on its 2.75 million readers to crack down on benefit fraud. Backed by the secretary of state for work and pensions, Iain Duncan Smith, the Sun's Beat the Cheat campaign encourages readers to be "patriotic" by reporting suspected cheats to the benefit fraud hotline.

    It builds on the almost daily stories in the press about people receiving "disability benefits" while taking part in sports or physically strenuous activities, which are stoking public anger.

    Benefit fraud is indeed a serious and costly issue for the UK as the Sun trumpets, fraudulent claims cost the economy 1.2bn a year. Yet, as someone who has been sworn at, spat at and intimidated by strangers in public, I know first-hand the ramifications of members of the public feeling they are qualified to make a judgement on disability.

    How many of the Sun's readers who have been left seething about those milking the system are actually fully armed with the facts about disabled claimants?

    First, not all disabled people use a wheelchair or a walking aid. A great proportion of us have hidden disabilities or, more fairly, disabilities that are not glaringly obvious.

    There are 70,000 people in the UK with muscular dystrophy or a related condition alone. I wonder how many people reading this article know about the more than 60 different types of genetic muscle-wasting and weakening conditions and how each affects people? How many have ever heard of my condition, Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease (CMT)? I don't expect you to have.

    The average member of the public or Sun journalist is not a medical expert after all.

    CMT often shows no outward signs, but progressively causes the muscles in the limbs to weaken and waste over time, making it increasingly difficult to walk long distances, climb steps, keep balance and stay on foot for long periods of time.

    For those of us with conditions such as CMT who do not fit the visual stereotype of a "disabled person" constant scrutiny from the public of our disabilities is wearing and sometimes threatening. It is a strange burden to have to be conscious of strangers' perceptions of your disability, rather than concentrating on striving to live life to the full.

    The Sun's article "exposes" people who claim disability benefits dancing, playing golf and refereeing a football match. Yet disabled people do spend time out and about with friends and family.

    Disabled people do get involved in community activities, go to the gym, go out on the town with friends, go to university and get involved in clubs and groups. We as a society have aspired to break down the barriers that disability presents to living a full and active life.

    What is also missing from the Sun's article is an explanation of what "disability benefits" actually are. Much confusion exists around disability living allowance (DLA), which is not an income replacement benefit and is paid to eligible disabled people whether they are in work or not.

    DLA is designed to help disabled children and adults cover the additional living costs faced by those with a long-term illness or disability. Alongside personal care and specialist equipment, it helps people cover the many day-to-day costs that are caused by the country's infrastructure not being available to disabled people.

    For example, with a public transport system that is still not accessible to many, DLA helps cover the cost of using taxis or accessible vehicles. The benefit is paid at different rates and recipients must fit strict criteria verified by a health professional.

    Five of the nine "cheats" who feature in the Sun's launch article are claiming "disability benefits". Yet the rate of fraudulent claims for DLA is just 0.5% in comparison with jobseeker's allowance at 4.1%.

    Many individuals entitled to DLA do not claim it, due perhaps to pride or anxiety over the assessments required. This witch hunt against disabled people will no doubt put people off claiming the benefits that they are entitled to.

    Oversimplifying the issue of benefit fraud has brutal consequences. Confusion and suspicion is a dangerous thing for those of us on the receiving end. In December I was surrounded on a dark street, sworn at and spat at by a group of people who did not believe I was disabled, when I used my blue badge to park.

    A recent survey on disability hate crime by the Muscular Dystrophy Campaign's Trailblazers, demonstrates that I am far from alone. Two-thirds of the young disabled people interviewed had been verbally abused, often because the perpetrators believed they were exaggerating or "putting on" their disabilities.

    A Trailblazer from Lancashire was almost pulled from her wheelchair by her hair by someone who did not believe she was disabled. If you are not a wheelchair user, using blue badges or taking seats on buses has become like a red flag to a bull.

    The majority of people on disability benefits are not scroungers and the rate of fraud remains relatively low.

    Hysterical media articles over benefit fraud that over-simplify the issue provoke frustrated, angry readers to take judgement into their own hands, and innocent disabled people are increasingly paying the price.

    As Britain's economic crisis continues, disabled people face more brutal judgements from "experts" within the government, local authorities and health leaders on our needs.

    Now, thanks to the country's leading newspaper, the public has been appointed for the role of judge and jury, too.'

    Remind me again of the country and age in which I live? Is it Germany in the 1930s-40's? Is it Dickensian England? Where are the Human Right's lawyers when they're really needed?

    Try and leave a comment for Krishna if you are able :cool:
    Desdinova, SOC, ahimsa and 2 others like this.
  2. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

    Logan, Queensland, Australia
    Hi, comments are closed.

    Here is what I wanted to post:

    For those who think witch-hunts against the disabled are a good thing, lets look at the facts.

    In the UK (2003 data I think) has ALL welfare fraud costing two billion pounds.

    Tobacco smugglings costs 3.5 billion pounds. So dob in all smokers who have been overseas or you think might know someone who has.

    Business fraud is 14 billion. Dob in your bosses!

    Corporate tax fraud is 85 billion. Dob in your bosses, raid their offices, and throw the directors in gaol!

    Is this the world you want to live in? Because if you support witch-hunts against disabled, your primary target to stop fraud would be coroporate tax cheats! They are responsible for forty times the fraud of all benefit fraudsters combined (not just disabled)! The cost of taking on the disabled with save almost nothing, and likely cost more than it saves. The benefits from taxing big business better would be huge. So impose a business levy, not a tax, with no write-offs, across the board ... and watch the economy crumble further.

    Actions have consequences. Targeting the disabled will mostly harm the innocent.

    Witch-hunts serve social agendas, not financial ones.

    Alex Young aka alex3619

    (Thanks go to SilverbladeTE for posting the link to this data.)
    heapsreal, Firestormm and ahimsa like this.
  3. Firestormm


    Cornwall England
    Nice one Alex.

    I was also thinking that 'Beat the cheat' was tantamount to incitement. What do you think?
  4. alex3619

    alex3619 Senior Member

    Logan, Queensland, Australia
    Hi Firestormm, I think that "Beat the cheat" will lead to more violence against the disabled in the UK, which has been shown to have risen in association with increased negative coverage in the press. (There was a recent UK study but I do not recall the name. I can find it if it is important as I saved it, but its buried with lots of other files.)

    Whether this constitutes incitement is more legalistic, and depends on whether or not the laws in the UK support that interpretation. I am not qualified to judge. I do however think its very much not in the countries interest - it generates dissent and unrest. Given the riots of late in the UK, increasing dissent and unrest to no good purpose would seem to me to be a dangerous path to go down.

    Any newspaper that does this will probably get more circulation in the short run. However, it has a risk of backfiring. In the long run this might lead to a massive drop in sales, it depends on how this plays out over time.

    Bye, Alex
  5. SilverbladeTE

    SilverbladeTE Senior Member

    Somewhere near Glasgow, Scotland
    Newspaper sales have been dropping steadily for some time, fighing verus new media (the web) and also more and more folk when seeing the huge info the web gives, thus realize the traditional media are sick, dangerous monsters, and abndon it

    so they pander harder and harder to the most base of people, to revel in the worst...and it makes things worse
    folk do die because of such
    as I keep reffering to, those tabloid vermin are little better than ht infamous Nazi newspaper "Volkischer Beobachter"
    all "means to an end"

    the icnreasing almost daily attacks on the disabled and Scots inthose rags for past 2+ years is no coincidence.
    See Rob liddle's other article, day before the ME one, about Scots, it's NOT GAWD DAMN FUNNY, it's EVIL RACISM
    pulling each other's legs (nations) is one thing when done in good spirits it should be ;)
    this kind of stuff damn well isn't, day in day out it's to cause friction and hate

    Disabled cost the elite money, so kill them off!
    Scots won't knuckle under and become morally bankrupted pieces of crap, and also threaten to break up the war/pwoer/wealth mahcine that is Westminster/City fo London etc so we are attacked

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