Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Politics
10 August 2010

Cameron’s war on benefit fraud: the unanswered questions

Where will the savings go? And what about the £40bn lost to tax avoidance?

By George Eaton

The coalition is living up to its “breakneck” reputation today with David Cameron launching a new crusade against benefit fraud. He’s written an article for the Manchester Evening News that promises an “uncompromising” strategy for tackling the £5.2bn lost to fraud and error each year.

The crackdown comes at a crucial time for the coalition, not least because, as today’s Times reports, ministers have been asked to review all proposed cuts following the fiasco over free school milk.

The big question remains: if significant savings are made (and it’s a big if) where will the money go? Most ministers would like any savings to be claimed as cuts to overall spending, remembering George Osborne’s promise that large reductions to the UK’s £192bn welfare bill could mean less pain elsewhere.

But Iain Duncan Smith and his allies (including Nick Clegg) would like any savings to be used to fund his radical welfare reforms. Duncan Smith’s mission to incentivise work comes with a large price tag. It involves either increasing payments to those in work or reducing benefits to those out of work or in the lowest-paid jobs — widening inequality in the short term.

Select and enter your email address Your new guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture each weekend - from the New Statesman. A quick and essential guide to domestic politics from the New Statesman's Westminster team. A weekly newsletter helping you understand the global economic slowdown. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email. Stay up to date with NS events, subscription offers & updates.
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how New Statesman Media Group may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

Then there’s the coalition’s conspicuous failure to launch a comparable war on tax avoidance, which costs the UK some £40bn a year. If saving money really is the priority, it would make a lot more sense to start there.

Content from our partners
To truly tackle regional disparities, we need a new type of devolution
How smart meters helped a business thrive
The case for sustainable thematic investing