“Benefit cheats”

Gah! What’s going on?! You turn your back for one minute to have a baby and the whole world goes to pot!
Right, well, I’m back in town now, so it’s time to set the world to rights – starting with tax evasion!

But seriously, here’s something interesting, given the current fuss being made about how much unemployment benefits cost the UK and the efforts being made to get those lazy, shiftless, workshy, scrounging – probably asylum-seeking – unemployed to pull their fingers out, get on their bike and get a job.
Tax evasion (using loopholes and scams to avoid paying tax) by the very rich and by major companies costs the UK £20 billion (more details here, here and here, among others) – quite a bit less than the £12 billion spent on unemployment benefits in total. No doubt some of that £12 billion of unemployment benefit is being wasted, no doubt there are some illegal claimants, but if the government’s real aim was to save us some money then they’d do a lot better chasing that £20 billion lost by tax evasion, because all of it – every single shiny new penny – is basically being stolen from you and from me by big companies and the very rich.

So what’s being done to try and stop this massive haemorrhage of money from the government coffers? Is there a massive government crackdown on corporate and millionaire tax dodgers? Is there a reemphasis on the responsibility these institutions and individuals have to the country as a whole? Is there even, perhaps, a plan to get their neighbours to grass them up for non-payment or breaking the law?

No, there isn’t. Instead, they sacked a load of people at the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise.

So the next time the Sun or the Daily Mail has a crackdown on benefit cheats (precious few of whom are living in any kind of idyllic luxury at our expense) you might want to point out to them that there are much bigger savings to be made elsewhere…

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