benefit payment rules need to be simplified and clarified

I think Ross Clark may be mistaken in believing that it is the anti-snitch mentality that prevents the rooting out of fraudulent benefit claims. As part of the fragmentation of Society, the old neighbourhood’s were demolished and people shifted to new estates. Each estate being an enclave of Closes and Cul-De-Sacs, separated from the next estate by being made up of a different mix of people. Traditionally, the executive estate would be built first, followed the semi-detacheds and then the Council Estates interspersed between them. Thus, the initial costs for infrastructure were carried by the private estates. The total effect is that those most likely to need to be on benefits were segregated from those most likely to resent any abuse. In fact, the way that the benefits system is run actually encourages an “us and them” mentality. In order to be able to claim most benefits, you have to “apply” for them. The rules for eligibility are a State secret, known only to the benefit officers and those whose neighbours have ferreted out a rule here and a rule there. This Folk knowledge stays and is shared within the enclave. Members of the enclave don’t snitch, out of mutual interest. This “no snitch” rule has, of course, been re-inforced by the gradual replacement of a police presence by organised groups of drug-dealers (seemingly, in accordance with Government policy). It is to be noted that those benefit claimants, who are caught, are more likely to be members of Golf-clubs and such, where this shared dependency does not exist. A quick skim through your letters to the newspapers will show that the most perplexed by these claims of benefit fraud are the professional and semi-professional classes, forced into early retirement and without the benefit of any Folk Knowledge. With a lump sum from their retirement fund and with several years to go before inflation has eaten away at the lump sum, or their company pension, they are surprised to find that the State offers them no help. Later when their lump sum has gone and their Company pension has been eroded, they may ne eligible for State aid but they don’t apply, because they don’t know that they are now eligible and no-one is there to tell them. So the young single mother with all the latest electronic gadgetry in her state funded semi and her holidays in Ibiza is a total mystery to the retired 55-year old (unlikely to get another job) Fire officer, sitting in his paid-for but poorly maintained (where’s the money?) semi-detached. Nursing bad teeth, paying prescription charges, council Tax etc., because he is ineligible for any State benefits.
If the State benefit eligibility rules were transparent (meaning that they’d also have to be considerably simplified), if Interviewing officers had some latitude in deciding eligibility and even in advising people on how to become eligible (squander that lump sum on new guttering, double-glazing and a well deserved holiday), then, perhaps, the need for collusion and the obvious inequalities might disappear along with benefit cheats.

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