There is a huge problem in trying to provide an evidence based approach to welfare reform.
Most people just don't want to believe the evidence.
"But if you'd just admit how many people are "trying it on" You'd get further" "If you'd just admit that fraud is much higher than official figures suggest, the genuine could be better provided for" "Why is it so hard to admit there are millions of cheats?"
So here's the problem. No matter how hard they try, no matter how cruel the policies they design, no matter how many rocks they search under or plugholes they peer into, no Government has ever been able to find this mythical army of feckless, workshy sick and disabled people. Well, not until they designed ESA obviously, where they just defined everyone as fit for work and had done with all that silly evidence nonsense.
Official DWP fraud rates stay stubbornly at half of one percent. 0.5%. From Peter Lilley in the 90s to James Purnell on the 00s to Chris Grayling today.
Nonetheless, successive Governments have been determined that they can find a further 4000% of people who are really absolutely fine. 20% is the figure of choice. From the Benefit Integrity Project in the 90s to PIP now, ideologically, politicians, blessed with rude good health and an arrogance born from ignorance have just not been able to bring themselves to believe the numbers suffering from illness or disability in the UK.
I hear it all the time on comments threads "3.2 Million??? Disabled??? Get outta here!! No WAY are there 3.2 million sick or disabled people. (Actually there are 10 million but this causes such pained outrage I try to break them into this figure gently. 3.2 million is just the number claiming DLA)
They forget that we are still largely hidden away, stuck at home or not integrated into their workplaces. They forget, that even when we are, we may not wish to tell people about our disabilities.
Surely, after 20 years you might think governments would have admitted their folly, educated themselves, maybe read a bit of evidence or looked at a few diagnostic figures?
For those who find 3.2 million an impossible figure, in fact it is much much higher, but DLA is massively UNDERclaimed. The endless forms and questions and appeals just put most people off. If the benefit was offered genuinely to all those who need it, the amount we pay out to genuine claimants would rocket.
So for those who tell me I'd do better to admit a much higher degree of fraud than official figures suggest, I say to them that the burden of proof is surely on the accuser? Off you go, get out there and find these hoards of cheating fraudsters - because 94% of calls to the benefit fraud hotline turn out to be malicious and almost none are found to be fraudulent.
Or.....(whisper it).... did it ever occur to these Disability Deniers that..... they might just be wrong?