Disability Benefit Cheats? Read this report…

There’s no question that Disability fraud is bile raising, and it engenders complex feelings among a range of people. The relationship with the media difficult: on the one hand I’d like awareness of the consequences of these actions to be raised, and I’d like justice to be seen to be done, but if disability benefit is only newsworthy in the case of fraud, then pretty soon anyone in receipt of disability payments will be automatically looked at with suspicion. Let’s have a couple of examples from the last few days…

From the telegraph:

A benefit cheat who swindled £21,000 claiming she was so disabled she needed help bathing and getting dressed was caught by undercover investigators taking part in fitness classes.

And this comes in light of this recent scandal of 9/11 disability scan in New York(this is from the guardian article on the subject):

Eighty retired New York police officers and firefighters have been charged in a suspected disability scam in which authorities said dozens of people falsely claimed to have been traumatized by the September 11 attacks on the city.

In all, 106 suspects were charged in a scheme that goes back to the late 1980s, according to the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus Vance, whose office led the two-year investigation.

Have a look at those two paragraphs for a second and ask yourself if you think they both belong in the same story…

If you also have a generalised issue with the reporting of this sort of thing, then it’s well worth reading “Bad News for Disabled People”, which is an excellent study on the way that the focus of disability stories in the media has altered over the last few years.  It includes such statments as:

Articles focusing on disability benefit and fraud increased from
2.8% in 2005/5 to 6.1% in 2010/11. When the focus groups were
asked to describe a typical story in the newspapers on disability
benefit fraud was the most popular theme mentioned.

…and is full of a range of detail. I highly recommend it for giving some context, and by helping to make sure that we are sceptical of the right things, not the wrong ones.

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