View of Benefits Claimants Tainted by Constant Media Coverage of Thieves
The government’s welfare reform has created an environment in which the media has had a tendency to stereotype benefit claimants as lazy people with no intent to earn their own crust. Whilst this is the case for a minority of claimants, it’s the vulnerable people in society who rely on the welfare system to put food on their table who are really suffering. In particular, the media coverage of disability benefit fraud has caused disabled people to fear abuse from members of the public.
Image courtesy of Mattk1979 from Flickr.
The Media and Benefit Claimants
The reason behind the welfare reform is because of its excessive cost to the government which is estimated to be around £3billion a year. Cuts to disability and child benefits have been the most highlighted and fraudulent claimants of the two different categories have been exposed on an almost daily basis since the clamp down. Whilst exposing benefit thieves is a positive thing as the shame could deter others from offending and the culprit from reoffending; the genuine claimants who need these benefits to support their family are also being indirectly punished.
There’s currently a lot of negativity surrounding the welfare system, the economic climate has caused an overwhelmingly large number of families to struggle financially – not just the poorest ones. People are reluctant to spend money and dislike having to pay income tax on their wages, particularly when they read countless stories that ‘the taxpayer’s money’ is being splurged on a benefit thief’s 50inch plasma television. The constant emphasis on stories of benefit thieves being able to afford luxury items courtesy of the tax payer has painted an incorrect picture that all claimants are living a life of luxury on the hardworking people’s money.
Only recently a case has emerged that a mother of two children has been claiming tax credits for ten children, even claiming that her two existing healthy children were severely disabled to inflate her income. The comments below the article on The Sun newspaper’s website demonstrate understandable anger from tax payers, who are struggling to pay their bills whilst funding others’ lifestyles. The case also shows how easy it is for the public to believe that those claiming child benefits/disability allowances are “scroungers”, which in an overwhelming majority of instances simply isn’t the case.Continued on the next page