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Laws to stop benefit fraud should not penalise honest people

Comment 13th August 2010

The new law which allows private companies to investigate benefit claimants needs to be reviewed and measures put in place to stop honest people being penalised. An example of a specific case being –  a person calling HM Customs and revenue with a query will have their details checked with experion credit agency. If the person has no credit cards or debt then their identity cannot be verified using this company and the query cannot be dealt with over the phone. The enquirer has to wait to be contacted by their local revenue office to arrange an interview to which they must bring photographic proof of ID. Thus the claimant is penalised as, instead of having their query resolved in a matter of minutes as used to be the case, they now have to wait in the region of a week to have their query heard. If the claimant does not have photographic evidence of ID they must wait to be contacted so that special ID arrangements can be made.

Why does this matter?

This idea is very important as, whilst most people will agree that preventing benefit fraud is essential, it is also essential that innocent and honest people are not alienated. The feeling of alienation could lead to feelings of animosity towards the government and eventually to a loss of confidence in and support for the government and its plans.

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