TUC: 'unfounded myths' about unemployment benefit scroungers
David Woods, October 18, 2011
The TUC has published research which aims to challenge and dispel the “popular but unfounded myths” that 'people on disability benefits are swinging the lead'; 'lots of unemployed people are scroungers'; and 'benefit levels are a disincentive to work'.
Its report Challenging Myths and Stereotypes, published yesterday, will tackle several widely-held beliefs about people claiming benefits and living in poverty which the TUC believes are inaccurate and damaging.
The report found that contrary to popular belief fraud is very rare amongst disability benefit claimants, accounting for 0.5% of the 2010/2011 disability living allowance budget, and just 0.3% of the incapacity benefits bill.
The TUC has also raised oncerns that these "unfounded and damaging stereotypes" could be partly responsible for the increase in hate crimes disabled people have experienced in recent years.
TUC deputy general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "All too often we see people living in poverty ridiculed as cheats or scroungers.
"But poverty is not a laughing matter. Millions of children are growing up within extremely poor families and the UK has one of the lowest levels of social mobility in the developed world."
Community Links is also launching a report called Speech Marks at the conference, which argues that negative language about people on benefits hampers the chances of those who can work getting a job. The London-based charity will run a seminar on 'Speech Marks': the negative impact of MP's stigmatising language on welfare policy.
O'Grady added: "Negative portrayals of people on low incomes as lazy, feckless, scrounging on the dole and somehow worth less than the rest of society are not just demonising but hinder jobseekers' efforts to get back into work, creating an environment of suspicion and disdain amongst employers and support staff, and destroying self-confidence.
"Contrary to stereotypes, the vast majority of people on low incomes are not cheating the benefits system. Most people on the breadline want decent work but are struggling - particularly in the current economic climate."