You know all those lies about Incapacity Benefit claimants that the Daily Mail just loves to trot out at every opportunity? Well, I’ve found the source (I suppose many of you will know already; this is for those, like me, who didn’t).
The culprit is David Freud, an extremely wealthy former City banker (banker – well, that’s almost right…), who claimed in an interview with the Telegraph, in February, that tests are done by people’s own GPs, that 5-7% of incapacity claimants are working in the black economy and that two thirds of claimants should not be receiving incapacity benefit.
The problem is that not a single word of that is true. GPs do not carry out disability assessments (though perhaps they should – who knows the patient/claimant better?), and the other nonsense simply isn’t supported by the DWP’s own figures.
Freud is, apparently, currently advising the DWP “on commercial and commissioning strategies and not with the design of the benefit system or its administration.” So wouldn’t it be a good idea if he shut the fuck up and stopped commenting on matters that are way outside his remit and, as far as I can see, beyond his intelligence to understand? Unless, of course, this was all entirely deliberate, and part of a campaign of lies and disinformation sponsored by the government. Paranoia? I don’t think so. After all, have you seen, or read about, a government minister, or even a spokesman, or a DWP official, coming forward to give the lie to what Freud said?
Stephen Timms, Minister for Employment and Welfare Reform, has made a half-baked attempt to distance his department from Freud’s absurd comments by claiming, rather oddly, that “the contents of Mr Freud’s recent press articles were not prompted by research commissioned by the Government, and reflect his own views.”
I’m sorry, that’s garbage. Freud is, in effect, employed by the DWP, which is within Timms’ area of responsibility, and was speaking ex officio, so it is 100% Timms’ responsibility, and it is incumbent upon him to ensure that Freud publicly recants. Six months down the line, though, and that’s not happened, and it’s clear it’s never going to.
By failing to publicly condemn and correct Freud, Timms – and by extension, the government – is tacitly endorsing Freud’s lies, giving them an entirely erroneous veneer of truth. I would urge those of you living in Timms’ constituency to bear that in mind when the general election comes around.