Monday, November 09, 2015

Who are the real cheats?

An Ipsos Mori poll that revealed the public believed benefit fraud accounted for £24 out of every £100 claimed. Yet the reality is that fraud actually accounts for 70p out of every £100.

Depending on which source you look at this could amount to as much as £20 billion of benefits going uncollected every year. The Ipsos Mori survey found that the take-up rate on some benefits was around 70 per cent. Compare that to the actual fraud of 0.7 per cent.

According to Age UK, pensioners are missing out on £5.5 billion of income-related benefits every year, vital income that could help many pensioners from facing the annual fear of winter and the choice whether to “eat or heat”. This includes 1.58 million pensioners failing to claim Pension Credit to which they are entitled and 2.23 million pensioners failing to claim the council tax benefit which they are due.

The media prefer to make the public focus on those claiming benefits. Yet the scale of tax avoidance within the UK dwarfs the level of benefit fraud. According to the UK Government, tax evasion is around £35 billion per year but, according to a report commissioned by the union PCS and researched by Tax Research Associates, tax evasion in the UK in 2014 was around £119.4bn. This report complains that the UK Government’s figures massively underestimate the issue and use accounting sleight of hand to diminish the actual problem. However, the chances of collecting this money are diminishing as the UK Government are on schedule to decrease staffing within HMRC by 43 per cent over 10 years.

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