I didn’t sleep well. Consequently I woke up ‘hanging’, in the popular parlance of the day, so I suppose hearing Mark fucking Littlewood, frog faced lead vocalist for the populist shriek combo, the Institute of Economic Affairs, spouting lies about disability benefits isn’t a good start. BBC Radio Bristol claim to be discussing welfare this morning so I’m tuning in with great trepidation.
Already they’ve misfired inviting this libertarian shit stirrer on to an early and brief discussion about the changes to DLA. This was preceded by a soundbite from local Tory MP Chris Skidmore who disingenuously said these changes were about getting people back to work. This was not corrected, predictably, by the presenter: DLA is not an out of work benefit. Part of the reason many are scared about losing it is precisely because it helps them get to work. Instead we get the usual two pronged attack:
- Moan about reassessing people. Fraud is less than half a percent, yet the aforementioned ‘think’ tank want this to be better policed. Think about this; it’s policed effectively enough that 99.5% of potential fraud (if we assume fraud could ever be 100%) has been eradicated. That’s how effective the system currently is – for all its faults, fraud isn’t an issue. Many DLA claimants have lifelong conditions: what is going to be achieved throwing money at ATOS (of all people) to determine if they’ve magically somehow been cured?
- Use big numbers to scare people. Littlewood is always doing this. He constantly uses the fact that the welfare bill is, per se, a big number to bash welfare, referring to the usual nonsense about how it’s a big part of public expenditure (no mention of pensions of course). He went one step further: he divided the figure, without context, between the umber of households in the country and decided that each was paying eight grand to those in receipt. Therefore ‘it is right’ (that phrase again) people should be policed – to use his words.
It’s easy to say the welfare bill is high. It’s equally easy to misrepresent the expenditure (just under 4% of total expenditure at 12 and a half billion quid), and it’s easy to say that people should be reassessed. But there is nothing to stop people ending their claims unless you assume they are dishonest, or that their GP no longer supports the DLA claim. Factor in the negligible fraud rate and you can see that people are not being dishonest, so clearly people need the help this gives them.
People are always reassessed: they see doctors and specialists regularly – assuming of course they have a condition or issue that is changeable. The fact of the matter is that now, as compared to when DLA was first introduced a couple of decades ago, there is more awareness of what people are entitled to claim, disability itself and the conditions involved, and of course there are more, and older, people in society!
So what is the problem with DLA?
The question posed by the radio this morning, in its ‘informed’ welfare discussion, is: “are you entitled to benefits without being assessed”. None can walk into the DWP and just ask for money and get it on a plate. Yet again with the BBC bias – why do I bother.
The problem with the BBC is that they want to appeal to everyone and so think they have to be inoffensive. I don't suggest they ought to start effing and blinding, but their non committal stance, their so called objectivity, merely becomes submission to the wisdom of the day. Now we have a brutal government whose viciousness is unmatched in living memory, they are utterly wrong footed. This is made worse by their belief that balance is achieved by giving the same credence to all points of view. While I passionately support freedom of speech, it is absurd to suggest that all views are equal; they view that it's acceptable to treat the disabled with contempt cannot be seen as equal to the view that the disabled deserve equality respect and dignity. While you can hold either view freely, do we not want a society where the latter is preferred? The BBC won't commit to making that kind of choice and so it fudges and fusses while many of its presenters and staff are ex politicians (Michael Portillo is ready to bemoan the BBC's apparent lefty bias while happily appearing on their politics shows to spout his odiout crap unchallenged), or ex political scriptwriters and spin doctors (people like Andrew Neil who's bias is naked and sarcastic, or Nick 'Blue Robbo' Robinson, so called from his Young Conservative days). In these days of 24 hour media insanity we need a decent credible and upstanding representative.