The Minister for Welfare Reform, Lord Freud, has recognised to Church representatives throughout the UK that “the vast majority of benefit recipients are genuinely entitled to the financial support they receive”. Lord Freud wrote to Rev. Martyn Atkins, General Secretary of the Methodist Church and other Church representatives across the UK in response to our complaints against grossly inaccurate governmental accounts of the extent of welfare fraud.
The Coalition Government brandished the figure of £5.2 billion as the extent of welfare fraud. From August to November, there was a deluge of negative publicity against welfare recipients, detailing examples of abuse of the benefits system. However, in his letter, Lord Freud, has acknowledged that the £5.2 billion figure was in fact the joint accounting of “fraud and error” and that “this was entirely inadvertent and not in any way intended to mislead. "
It is reassuring that there is recognition that the figures were incorrect; however, public perception about the integrity of people living on benefits has probably been distorted. This is in spite of the fact that Lord Freud recognises that “It is a small minority who choose to abuse the system support by deliberately setting out to defraud it”.
An apology was issued to Church representatives; however who has apologised to the thousands whose integrity was questioned? Lord Freud states he has “asked his officials to take corrective action”. Has anyone heard public announcements correcting and explaining the figures? Have governmental websites been modified?
It is gracious indeed to recognise mistakes, it is however wiser to make amends.