Monday 16 February 2015


Over the weekend our prime minister, David Cameron, announced that the Tories, if they win the election, will conduct a  purge on people claiming benefits "who cannot work because they are obese or have alcohol or drug problems." 

An article in Saturday's Guardian noted that: " there are 300 HMRC employees investigative tax evasion of over £70bn, and 3 250 Department of Work and Pension bods chasing down £1,2bn of benefit fraud." 

What I find shameful is not just that we have a party with such such despicable values, but that over a third of  our electors are likely to vote for it. 

At a time when many of our population claim no religious faith, and many others adhere to faiths other than Christianity* it is perhaps now  tactless to cite the teachings of Jesus.  But it is Cameron's party which is for ever banging on about this being a Christian country and insist that schools must hold regular collective acts of worship which are "predominantly Christian."  

And of course, Cameron went to a School** with a Christian foundation, and which gets tax relief (avoidance?) on the strength of it.

The "goody" in last night's television adaptation of J K Rowling's "A Casual Vacancy" said "We must not turn our backs on those who need our help."

Cameron should call to mind what he learned at school.

* All of which, as far as I know, also teach some version of caring for our neighbour and the Golden Rule of "Do unto others as thou woulds't they would do unto thee."


  1. 'Over the weekend our prime minister, David Cameron, announced that the Tories, if they win the election, will conduct a purge on people claiming benefits "who cannot work because they are obese or have alcohol or drug problems." '

    Not what he said as I understand - the issue is about people on benefits with such problems who refuse treatment.

    Are you saying you find it acceptable that the state should support - unconditionally - people who have such problems and are not even trying to do anything about them?

    1. True. Having been schooled in the PR industry (as well as Eton) Cameron is skilled a crafting his phrases to arouse the indignation of those in “Middle England” who feel they’ve “done the right thing” entirely by their own endeavours and without any advantageous start or good fortune.

      But, however carefully phrased, the result of this latest threat is more likely to be yet another vindictive purge against the least fortunate in our society rather than anything likely to help solve their problems. Just think what happened to those on the disabled register who were “helped” to re-enter employment but died within weeks of being assessed as “fit for work” by ATOS.

      There are all sorts of physical and medical reasons why people suffer from obesity, or drug or alcohol abuse and are reluctant to be “helped.” Maybe they’ve tried “help” and it didn’t work. A civilised society grits its teeth and continues try to be constructive. Thank goodness there are social workers with the courage, patience and experience to keep on trying.

      I’m reluctant to bang the religious drum yet again, but see: 1Peter 2 v20. Maybe Cameron wasn’t listening when they studied that at Eton.

  2. Peter,

    Ah yes, the '300 HMRC officials investigating £70 billion worth of tax evasion' lie again. A wilful misinterpretation of an excerpt of an HMRC document on a small area of HMRC work.

    I thought that you were a bit more sceptical than to believe everything in the Guardian...

    1. Well, I did suspect that the 3 250 in the Department of Work and Pensions might be involved in something more that just chasing benefit "cheats" but if you have any more accurate information on either them or HMRC I'd be glad to hear it.

    2. Peter,

      Ask yourself two questions.

      First, how many benefit claimants are there in the UK and, if there are 3,250 DWP investigators, how many claimants per investigator are there?

      Second, if there are 28,000 staff in HMRC's Enforcement and Compliance division, as per HMRC's own figures, how likely is it that only 300 of them are investigating an alleged £70 billion of tax evasion, especially when the tax gap, as calculated by HMRC, is less than £40 billion?

      It's all very well quoting a statistic, but it seldom does any harm to credibility-test them first.

    3. I've tried to get in touch with Marina Hyde, from whose article the figures are quoted, but so far without success.

      This link

      confirms the £1.2bn lost through benefit fraud in 2013/14 (less than the £1.5bn unclaimed) but agrees with you that the "tax gap" is less than £40bn (in fact £34bn)

      If I find out anything more I'll be happy to confess it.

    4. Peter,

      I'll save you the trouble...

      Page 11, for ease of reference...

    5. Thanks Mark.

      I've studied Page 11 and can see from where Marina Hyde gets her 300 inspectors to chase evasion and avoidance. That is, literally what the report says: "Complete the increase in the number of our tax inspectors. . .with more than 300 staff focused on this . . ." If this were an increase of 300 over the number already working on the issue it would say "by more than 300 staff."
      As you point out, it does seem unrealistic, and it would be interesting to trace the true current figures from a reliable source.

      Be that as it may, the undisputed facts are that the loss to the Revenue through benefits cheating is about£1.2bn (but with £1.5bn unclaimed so a net gain to the Revenue of £0.3bn) whereas the loss to the Revenue by evasion (and avoidance?) is at least £34bn.

      And we all know that both politicians and the media, especially the "redtops" have, at least until now, generated far more publicity and anger about the benefits cheats than the evaders and avoiders.

      Let's hope things will now change.

      I also find it strange, also on Page 11, that HMRC plan to “increase the annual; number of prosecutions for evasion five-fold by 2014 – 15 (compared to 2010 -11) Unless there has been a massive increase in the level of evasion in this four-year period that means that four-fifths of suspected evasions were unprosecuted in 2010 -11.

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