“A lot of people, including Sun readers, lost a lot in the recession. The Government is using benefit claimants as a scapegoat for the country’s financial problems. The Sun sees [the campaign] as a way of boosting the egos of their readers, thus boosting their readership, by attacking the people perceived as responsible for all the losses the readers felt.”
Today The Sun and the government have gone one step further than subtly hinting that benefits claimants are to blame for the recession as The Sun has Iain Duncan Smith quoted as saying:
Paying a fortune to the five million on handouts - like X Factor reject Wagner Carrilho - is a major reason the UK's deficit soared to a crippling £155billion, Tory minister Iain Duncan Smith told The Sun.
From: www.thesun.co.ukThat's right: It's not because the bankers messed up and we bailed them out, it's not because Osborne lets his chums out of their multi-billion pound tax bills, it's because people like me have the audacity to eat.
Yes there is some element of fraud and there always will be. However the academic Jane Tinkler from LSE points out that the fraud rate for benefits is less than 1%. According to CityWire tax evasion costs the Treasury 15 times more than benefit fraud. Yet the government and the tabloids continue to portray us as the villains.
The Sun also post some manipulated facts about the process of applying for Incapacity Benefit.
Mr Duncan Smith only discovered the worrying new statistic that 47 per cent of people on incapacity benefit had been signing themselves on in the last few days.
In the most recently available figures, from the financial year 2007-08, they told him that nearly half of claimants were passed by simply filling in a form and sending it off.
Yes, filling in a form and sending it off is part of the process, but it's not the only part. I claimed Incapacity Benefit in the 2007-2008 year so I know something about the process in the time period specified. At first I had to submit sick notes from my GP. My GP would sign me off for 3 months at a time so every 3 months I had to go back. This was until the DWP sent me the aforementioned form, the IB50. The IB50 doesn't just ask you "are you sick? Yes/no." It's a very long, detailed form. It took me days to fill it in. It asks about your mobility, your sanity, your continence, your communication, your ability to dress and undress yourself, and pretty much anything else you can think of. But you don't just get the form, you also have to go for a medical where a doctor stares at your deformed bits to ascertain that you were telling the truth on the form.
Today's Sun article also says:
Britain was branded the sick man of the world last week after a report found we have more young people on incapacity benefit than any other industrialised country.
Which reminds me of the Daily Mail article in August that indirectly gave me the idea for Where's the Benefit?
I claimed (the now defunct) Severe Disablement Allowance (replaced by Incapacity Benefit) from the age of 16 until I got my first job when I was 22. You see, having impaired mobility I couldn't do bar work, stacking shelves in a supermarket, or any of the other fairly physical jobs people without a university degree tend to get. Which essentially meant I was unable to work until I was part-way through my degree thus educated enough for people to employ me to do a "thinking" job, the only kind I'm physically capable of.
Eugenics have progressed a lot since I was born and now a lot of disabled children don't make it as far as birth. Despite a lot of disabled babies being aborted there's not really a reduction in the number of disabled children around because medical advances mean that premature babies that wouldn't have survived in the past now do, but they're often left with cerebral palsy and other impairments. More children survive accidents and illnesses like cancer nowadays, but are left too ill or impaired to work so claim Incapacity Benefit when they turn 16. Despite his family money, had Ivan Cameron lived to see 16 he'd have been eligible to claim IB from his 16th birthday.
The fact that we have more young people claiming incapacity benefit than any other industrialised country is almost certainly linked to the excellence of our health service and we should be proud that children who'd have died from an accident, illness or premature birth in another country are still alive to claim incapacity benefit 16.
I came across today's Sun article through the fabulous (and award winning!) Disability Hate Crime Network because of their concerns that such hateful propaganda could fuel a rise in disablist hate crime. With our government and one of our biggest newspapers stating that incapacity benefit claimants effectively caused the deficit which the government are blaming all the cuts on, is it any wonder visibly disabled people are getting called "scrounger" and told to get a job by bus drivers?