Wednesday, 19 January 2011

The Apology of the Minister for Welfare Reform

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.


  1. Hi Ian,
    Having had personal and professional experience of Disability benefits, I have received no apology for the seven months of hell my family were put through by this dept. Of government and their minions at atcos medical. Everyone is assumed guilty until proven genuine. I was told by one well placed parishioner that there had been orders from on high to deny everyone and save some money temporarily whilst the appeal process wove on for five months. Nice to see them admit (kind of) that they messed up.

  2. The part that tickles me is that when it comes to the misinformation of Lord Freud, it can't descend into a party-political, "mistakes of the previous administration" blame-shifting exercise, because he was their welfare advisor too, and was just as careless with the facts in his dealings with the media then - as in this BBC article from 2008.

  3. I can't work and I've just been put through hell by the DWP for taking in a friend who, through no fault of his own, had to leave his job. If I hadn't taken him in, he'd be homeless, and unable to apply for either new jobs or benefits. It seems the DWP doesn't permit claimants to practise Christian charity and by arranging a Compliance Officer to visit us both at the same time was treating as a couple without evidence. I even told the DWP he was staying, signed a form to the effect that he was neither a partner nor a tenant, but that's not enough.

  4. Dear Ian,

    No one can find the actual facts and statistics of what diagnosis and what kind of disabilities are being assessed and taken off and how many serious disabled and disabled children are having all care taken off or support drastically reduced. To charges who are to their carer 24/7.

    If you can, as no one else can, try and get the figures and breakdown of actual figures of what diagnosis are being written off because really important illnesses such as schizophrenia, bi-polar, dementia, paraplegic, spina bifida, multiple amputees and many others are written off. This is one such case:

    Man in wheelchair with gross disabilities - no legs, double incontinence, with wife who has severe spina bifida both taken off all disabled benefits and help and support immediately stopped. So no one available to help get them up and out fo bed washed and dressed told to "Get Off his backside" and offered jobs as window cleaner, taxi driver bus, driver and painter and decorator. When put in complaint told to "Grow Up." But Back to Work organisation wont employ disabled for office job.

    Govt refuse to give real statistical feedback. We only know as our own witness and experience and those of others that it is bad. Person in coma written off as fit to work as failed to turn up even though notification that he was in a coma and in ICU. His benefits were stopped, including housing benefit so he was homeless at discharge.(HB is stopped when in hospital for long time. so many long term ill such as mentally ill and stroke and other rehab such as amputees lose their homes) How many of you really know the reality and facts behind disability and benefits?


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