• Robert Spicer

Benefit fraud: cost compared with that of the Iraq War

Benefit fraud

From time to time, civil servants enforcing welfare benefit rules proudly announce that they have uncovered widespread fraud and that “welfare cheats” are to be prosecuted. These purges are welcomed and praised by sections of the mass media. The boast is that taxpayers have been saved huge amounts of money by the successful undercover surveillance and exposure of benefit cheats. Advertising campaigns urge the public to inform on welfare cheats.

The reality is that the sums of money saved and recovered are derisory in comparison, for example, with the following:

  • Widely-known and accepted, legal or semi-legal, tax avoidance and evasion schemes.

  • Money wasted by the state in many ways. For example ,in 2008 Joseph Stiglitz, former Chief Economist at the World Bank, and Linda Bilmes, a leading American economist, published The Three Trillion Dollar War: the true cost of the Iraq conflict. Their conclusion was that the total cost of the Iraq war to the US would be $3 trillion and the total cost to Britain would be £20 billion.

It has been commented that the bloodhounds who track down the benefit cheats should be let loose on the tax avoiders, the arms traders and those who have wasted unimaginable amounts of money on illegal wars.

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