Our 20% DLA rates, taking the proverbial or rightly deserved?

The Belfast Telegraph is reporting that 20% of the population in West Belfast are claiming DLA:  18,760 of the area’s 94,200 population. North Belfast had a rate of 15.6% and West Tyrone was on 15%. The average in England is 5% but even North Down is on  7.6%.

Newton Emerson had a good column in the Irish News this week were he pointed out that the Troubles only account for a small number of claimants. Our own Salmon of Data also did a report on the DLA figures. A quote from Salmon’s post:

A report in The Detail found that Northern Ireland consumes more than two and a half times as many antidepressants as similarly wealthy levels in England. Most shocking of all is the suicide rate in Northern Ireland, which is 63% higher than the rate in Britain. Between 1995 and 2013, 4,018 people took their own lives in Northern Ireland, higher than the number of deaths in the Troubles.

So really it is no surprise that our DLA rate is so high. Most of the violence of the Troubles took place in North and West Belfast so equally it is no surprise that the rates are high here.

What we also know is many claimants are spurious at best. I am from a working class area of Belfast and there is no shortage of people who never worked a day in their lives yet drive around in a brand new car. I took my car in for a service this week and the guy in the showroom was explaining that with a one of payment of £500 a person getting DLA gets a free car for 3 years under the Motability Scheme. Not just any old car but top of the range models like a VW Golf, VW Passat, Kia Sportage etc.

Even more bizarre they give DLA to alcoholics. The government literally pays you to drink yourself to death. How can that be right??

It must be very galling for the working poor. People who go out and work for a minimum wage while their neighbours gets to sit around watching Judge Judy before taking their new Hyundai ix35 for a spin.

On the other side of the argument the rich in the UK avoid paying an estimated £120 billion of tax a year. When the poor get a few extra grand a year by faking back ache they are immoral scroungers. When the rich avoid their taxes they are considered financial whiz-kids and get a bonus.  We don’t have any control of benefits so really should we care that some people are milking the system for all it is worth? Don’t hate the player hate the game…

What do you think? Let us know in the comments below.

  • barnshee

    “1 Tax debt: tax that is not paid by a person or a company who knows that they owe it, but who doesn’t pay, or delays payment or which cannot be collected by HMRC.
    2 Tax avoidance: tax that is lost when a person claims to arrange their affairs to minimise tax within the law in the UK, or in other countries with impact on the UK.
    3 Tax evasion: tax lost when a person or company deliberately and unlawfully fails to declare income that they know is taxable or claims expenses that are not allowed.”

    Note

    2 is legal if HMRC don`t like it change the rules(law)

    1 and 3 (and probably 2) results from the wholesale incompetence by HMRC (largely in the senior end of it) who have failed to organise the department appropriately.

  • what concerns me

    a one of payment of £500 would only be the deposit, they would also forfeit their mobility component of £83.20 per week. Whilst your neighbours, who you might regard as “not sick enough” to qualify, they could be the named driver for a sick relative. It is a rigorous procedure and not just handed out willy nilly as the media and many others would have you believe. To also qualify for a car through the mobility scheme you have to be in receipt of higher rate of mobility component for at least 3 years or more and it is rare that that would be awarded first or second time of applying. Many years ago my neighbour who was diagnosed with leukaemia at the tender age of 10 years old, struggled, but so wished that he could be “normal” like everyone else. When he was well enough he would do his best to at least be in the company of his friends. His father had a mobility car, as between the leukaemia and the treatment it was hard for him to remain upright. Was his father a fraud because he was driving a car to get his son to and from his many appointments? or when he was too weak to walk, was he just supposed to remain isolated at home? Treatment was severe and robust but he never ever made it to a remission stage. When he himself became of age, he took driving lessons and passed his driving test. It was a pleasure just to watch how something so simple gave him so much independence & freedom to drive to see his friends when he was well enough. It wasn’t long until people queried why he was in receipt of a mobility car, the rumour mill wasn’t long in gathering steam, making its way back to him, and making him feel guilty about having the car. No-one appeared to be jealous of his leukaemia just the car that he had, despite never having worked. Just 1 month before his 21st birthday he became seriously ill, no-one in the family was a bone marrow match and none were on the register that matched either, and within 5 days of being admitted to hospital he died. I often wonder how those people who were so jealous of his car felt when it took him dying at such a young age for them to understand that there are chronic incurable diseases out there that no-one chooses to have. This article has come across to me just like those people who were jealous of his car but not of his cancer. Why bash the ill, especially when this article clearly demonstrates that there is little knowledge of the procedure to having a mobility car.

  • Korhomme

    Friends of mine have a severely disabled child, one who is unable to do anything for herself, and who requires 24/7 care. They get occasional respite care, they have a specially adapted vehicle, provided under DLA or similar. There is no way that they could have afforded this. It means that they can get out and around, something otherwise impossible.

    I don’t know how they manage for I would have given up years ago. But they have support, and I am glad of it. It’s why I pay my taxes.

    The number of chancers, those who fraudulently claim benefits are reckoned to be around 0.7% of the welfare budget. I think your claims, though I’ve often heard them, are overdone.

  • BetsyGray

    The UK government estimates that total fraud across the whole of the economy amounts to £75 billion a year.
    Lets get some perspective, benefit fraud represents approx. 2% of the estimated total annual fraud in the UK. Public sector fraud, which includes benefit fraud, is £21 billion a year, so within this category it accounts for just under 8%. The majority of this £21 billion is tax fraud which costs the economy approx. £15 billion annually…

    So we can see that both in absolute and percentage terms tax fraud is a much bigger issue than benefit fraud. In fact, out of all the categories of fraud calculated by the UK Government, benefit fraud is the second lowest. Only identity fraud which costs individuals £1.4billion a year comes below it.

    In conclusion.. we are having the wool pulled over our eyes by this Tory government focusing on the disabled, the sick and poor etc……which is an ideological dogma they wish to install upon us…(if left to the Tories there would not have been a welfare state or an NHS…as they have opposed it since the turn of the century)….and with the backing of sections of the lickspittle media…they demonize the poor with high viewing, almost voyeuristic TV programmes highlighting those awful lazy benefits people and how they all play the system….its a funny old world indeed, but I’m not fooled.

  • SDLP supporter

    The only intellectually consistent position is to bear down on both benefit fraud and tax avoidance/evasion. Re taxation, the line between avoidance and evasion is becoming increasingly blurred and tax justice and fairness is going to become and ever more important issue (see the motion adopted at Belfast City Council this week). I think there is also a dichotomy between the public attitude to welfare fraud ( indignation because paid out of taxes collected) and tax evasion (doesn’t arouse as much public ire-as it should-because the amount lost is not quantified). Both types of loss to the public purse are going to come under increasing pressure and scrutiny, as is right.

  • salmonofdata

    On the DLA issue, I think that both trains of thought on the issue have a point. It is apparent that some people claiming the benefit could be working, but it also the case that the legacy of the Troubles is at least partly responsible for the crisis in mental health in Northern Ireland, and this will take a long time to fix. Those who somehow think that people who are suffering from poor mental health as a result of the Troubles should “snap out of it” are, in my view, being crass and insensitive.

    I don’t think it’s a contradiction to combine more compassionate policies on mental health in what is a post-conflict society, with a more vigourous clampdown on those who are abusing the system.

    On a side note, I’m deeply confused by Gregory Campbell’s comments on the number of DLA claimants. He has taken issue with the (correct) numbers for DLA claimants by constituency provided by Social Development Minister, Mervyn Storey. The Belfast Telegraph said:

    “Mr Campbell said he believed the proportion could be even higher because the population figures quoted in the answer include some who may not be eligible to claim DLA.”

    There are 18,360 DLA claimants, and 94,690 people live in the area. Divide the former by the latter and you get 19.4%. Am I missing something, or are Mr Campbell’s objections to the quoted numbers completely nonsensical?

  • Deke Thornton

    Hold on.. that’s 20% of the total population- including children and OAP’s as well as single mothers on a host of other benefits. That makes the claimant count for those available to work a hell of a lot higher. No wonder the number of officially unemployed (on JSA) doesn’t match up. And no wonder SF is stalling on welfare reform. The system is being milked dry here. Even when Harold Wilson called us ‘spongers’ 40 years ago he couldn’t have envisaged just how large the sponge would get. This is a spongers paradise. A culture of entitlement encouraged by a political party that sees the English taxpayer as a cash cow. And then pathetically squeals ‘deprivation!’ when remotely threatened by even minute cuts.

  • salmonofdata

    The published figures do split out figures by age. There are 11,300 people of working age (16-64) claiming DLA in West Belfast, against a working age population of 60,189, so the working age DLA rate is 18.77%, which is actually lower than the incidence in the total population, although it is still the highest in Northern Ireland (ahead of North Belfast on 14.5% and Foyle on 13.6%).

    I still can’t work out what Gregory Campbell’s objections were to the quoted figures.

  • barnshee

    “Hold on.. that’s 20% of the total population- including children and OAP’s as well as single mothers on a host of other benefits”

    Now add in the huge level of taxpayer funded direct employment Civil service, Education NHS Police Fire service Local government.
    Move on to the Community Support “Industry” and the various “great and good” pleas for “cultural support”

    N I floats on a sea of taxpayer funds -time to pull the plug.,

  • Surveyor

    There’s not going to be much of a society left if you had your way. I hope you’re up to defending your property when the hoards descend looking for money and valuables.

  • Zeno

    There is also another possibility that hasn’t been mentioned.
    Maybe there are tens of thousands of people in other constituencies that should be on DLA and are not claiming. Maybe they don’t know the ins and outs or maybe they are much better off than the people who live in West Belfast,

  • Zeno

    It would be interesting to see the Unemployed figures and the figures for Economically Inactive in West Belfast.

  • Robin Keogh

    Thats the first thing i have ever seen u write that makes sense

  • Interested Observer

    Who would have thought it – all those ardent republicans dreaming of a united Ireland from their sick beds occasionally rising to pick up their latest British cheque.

    Here’s to the next 90 odd years of N.Ireland.

    By the way will they all be well enough to mark the Easter Failure celebrations next year?

  • Zig70

    So the discussion should be how to fix it. One of the reasons why unionism will eat itself is that Campbell (who raised the issue in Stormont) has no intention of helping West Belfast. He just wants to use them to stick the knife in SF. The tory idea of cutting help to the poor as a way to force them out of poverty turns me a bit. I’m not sure that there is any data to show it working. I’ve worked in West Belfast, we had plenty of good well educated workers. I’ve also worked in factories that were crying out for labour and probably wouldn’t have succeeded without immigrant workers. So how come some can travel from Poland to Belfast but others can’t travel from one end of the city to the other. A legacy of the troubles is a fear of going outside your own area. I can remember when it was odd to hear a West Belfast accent in the city centre at night. You can’t fix these issues with a stick. You are going to need to address the mobility issue either by bringing jobs directly to West Belfast, improving the infrastructure (Andytown road is a nightmare at times), maybe getting employers to take workers in batches so that they feel secure.

  • jimjam

    The formula used by DHSSPS to allocate resources for health and social care includes the numbers of people by area receiving certain benefits such as DLA and income support, so if certain politicians are unjustly defending (and some might say maximising, though the publicly-funded staff in their constituency offices) take-up they are grabbing more of the available funding than their areas “deserve” on the basis of relative need, and of course depriving others.

  • barnshee

    Address the problem

    N I floats on a sea of taxpayer funds including the ludicrous salaries paid to tin pot public servants who would struggle to earn the minimum wage “outside”

    “I hope you’re up to defending your property when the hoards descend looking for money and valuables”

    Anyone who gets past the dogs is welcome to help themselves –and “hoards”? Perhaps those “creating” hoards might reconsider their “contribution”

  • Sharpie

    I have tried to look at the Nisra statistics for people leaving NI- and got bamboozled. I wonder in terms of population of “indigenous” Northern Ireland born people – how many of them leave each year or have left over the years and whether or not they have left behind a concentration of the infirm and the uneducated.

    it seems impossible to tell from the stats collected – and to disaggregate those who are foreign nationals leaving for better shores from the natives who are leaving for better shores.

    If those leaving are mostly degree educated off in search of better wages or quality of life, then over 40 years or so of this happening it is going to have a major impact. Is it measurable in the way that we record statistics?

  • Thomas Barber

    You do know West Belfast is not all Catholic or republican and that parts of the Shankill area are also included in those figures.

  • turquoise_unionist

    As a resident of working class north Belfast i know a few people, and anecdotally know of many, who are ‘swinging the lead’ as far as fraudulent benefits claiming is concerned. It seems stress, anxiety & a bad back are easy enough to fake or exaggerate for those with enough of a ‘brass neck’. It is something the left seemingly overlook or don’t want to deal with yet the welfare budget is under great strain. I have no doubt the majority deserve that which they claim and others who deserve to be on DLA but who are too uninformed or too proud to apply. So it’s important that we somehow deal with the fraudsters within this system so that we can continue to fully support those who actually deserve it; it is not a victimless crime. Whether it is evading tax or claiming money for something you are not entitled, we need to tackle the unscrupulous among us.

  • turquoise_unionist

    Your friends fully deserve the help they get. To protect that we need to insure only those who deserve it get it. I think 0.7% is a ridiculously low estimate. I feel the numbers claiming DLA in north & west are evidence of this. We cannot pretend this is not a problem.

  • Thomas Barber

    Brass neck ! There are billionaire fraudsters and their families who claim millions of pounds off the taxpayer every year and there is never a word said about this blatant abuse, yes we do have problems with the misuse of tax payers money, but rather than start at the bottom lets start at the top and stop the ridiculous amounts of money that gets allocated to the Billionaire Royal Family and their hangers on.

  • Jag

    The DLA recipients could be taking the proverbial, but I’d guess the 300-odd a year who die through suicide are fairly serious. That’s twice the suicide rate – measured as the number of suicides per 100,000 head of population – of Britain and nearly twice that of the Republic.

    Mental health issues would be one reason for claiming DLA, and judging by actual suicides, there would appear to be twice the issues here in Northern Ireland than in Britain. So, in this regard at least, probably not taking the proverbial.

  • Nimn

    My brother has long term mental health illness and also limited physical mobility. He depends on his car completely to get him out for the basics like food. He is eligible for a Motability car, but won’t get one as there are many people around him on low wages whose cars are 10-12 years old. He doesn’t want to be singled out for whispering and resentment which would grow if he came home in a shiny new car when he clearly isn’t working. He has seen this happen in close knit estates, so he pays for a wee car like everyone else around him and gets more benefit from the good relations and help from his neighbours.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Those with get up and go got up and left? Interesting theory but I can’t imagine the numbers stack up.

  • Brian O’Neill

    I know of factories situated in the middle of West Belfast that are full of migrate workers. One business decided to go straight to the source and their new factory is in Poland.

    People commute every day into Belfast from Dungannon, omagh etc. The idea that someone in Belfast can’t travel more than a mile to work is farcical.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Indeed as is north Belfast.

  • Brian O’Neill

    Good idea.
    Cut benefits? Yes, let’s start with our £85bn corporate welfare handout

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/oct/06/benefits-corporate-welfare-research-public-money-businesses

  • Brian O’Neill

    Britain’s tax code is an 17,000 pages long. The complexity makes the line between evasion and avoidance very thin.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/13/britain-tax-code-17000-pages-long-dog-whistle-very-rich

  • NMS

    Bradán Feasa – I had a look at the Irish figures from Department of Social Protection’s Annual Statistical Report for y/e 31/12/2013 and the figures are similar to those of Britain.

    Between the four different types dealing with those that are ill, the number of claimants is 232,691 or 5.07% of the estimated population in 2013. Many of those included in that number are on illness benefit and are temporarily out of the workforce. Excluding the short-term claimants, the number is just 3.92% of the total population or around 5.6% – 5.7% of the 16-64 age group.

    The Northern Ireland numbers appear completely out of kilter with elsewhere. The total Irish figures have also fallen since 2013, but the 2014 will not be available until perhaps May when the 2014 Report will be issued.

  • aor26

    I just read the Telegraph article and not only is it bordering on a Daily Mail style of journalism but this is not a new story. I can remember this exact same story on the Nolan Show and in all our local papers maybe two or three years ago. So call me a cynic but I think Gregory Campbell has asked Minister Storey this question in the assembly knowing fully what the answer is. Then he knew it would be bad publicity for West Belfast because welfare claimants are currently public enemy no 1 (and especially if they are republicans/nationalists in N.I)

    Unsurprisingly the phoney moderates at the Belfast Telegraph take great delight in regurgitating an old story in order to vilify West Belfast

  • aor26

    Of course Sinn Fein deserve some blame for the level of welfare dependency in West Belfast. How long have West Belfast returned Sinn Fein MLA’s , MP’s councillors ??? Now how many major employers are there in the constituency ??? Anybody familiar with the area know what large employers there are in West Belfast??

  • Korhomme

    The 0.7% is an official ‘statistic’; many people have questioned it. Surveys also show that the public think about 25% of claims are fraudulent.

  • barnshee

    Part of Shankill =15% of west Belfast”

  • barnshee

    Part of Shankill =15% of west Belfast”

  • barnshee

    Dud economics

    Were jobs created was there a tax benefit from the action?

    Corporations have to generate profits otherwise they (and their employee) disappear

    Governments (and the ROI is the classic) will use every weapon including tax manipulation to attract investment -where corruption follows – well point at the Government

  • barnshee

    “Britain’s tax code is an 17,000 pages long. The complexity makes the line between evasion and avoidance very thin.”

    Avoidance is legal if HMRC don`t like it change the rules(law)

    PS the individual taxes are NOT particularly complex

  • Joe_Hoggs

    So benefit fraud is acceptable as it’s in a smaller percentage group than other types of fraud?

  • what concerns me

    Its disgraceful that he is made to feel like that, an older car would less reliable and more likely to break down – the media started this blame those on benefits but how many would like to suffer from their diseases?? I wish your brother well and hope he has many miles of happy and safe motoring

  • what concerns me

    to be honest if I lived in West Belfast I would fear for my mental and physical health – the area needs investment and upgrading – the people deserve so much more

  • NMS

    Barnshee – As a former Irish tax inspector, may I point out that the UK has far more complex legislation than Ireland and many other countries. Excessively complex legislation leads to loopholes and attempts to correct it lead to more complexity.

    “Avoidance” in many cases is no more than a scam not yet discovered. Tax practices depend on the other side being completely under-resourced with the greater chance of a negotiated settlement rather than a court case, even if discovered.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘A legacy of the troubles is a fear of going outside your own area. I can remember when it was odd to hear a West Belfast accent in the city centre at night. You can’t fix these issues with a stick.’

    Why not? The carrots clearly don’t work.
    I’ve mentioned on Slugger before the radio interview which I heard back in the 80s involving a group of young males from West Belfast. Asked why they would not go out of the area to find employment, they replied that it wasn’t their ‘job’ to look for a job: it was up to the government to bring the jobs to them. If such attitudes still prevail, they certainly won’t be eradicated by more carrots.

  • barnshee

    Snap –as a former HM Inspector of Taxes –the individual taxes are NOT particularly complex

    “completely under-resourced with the greater chance of a negotiated settlement rather than a court case”

    MORE

    Poorly qualified staff
    Poor organisation
    Useless senior management

    (Out of some 75000 staff some 0.04 % are qualified auditors/ accountants)

  • Zig70

    You can’t really cite an interview and call it carrots. If you really want an end to the high levels of DLA, then you are going to have to be a bit more inventive than a tea party think tank.

  • eireanne

    here’s some background to suicides in NI, particularly Belfast and Ardoyne. lots of references if anyone wants to read more
    https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2014/03/30/time-for-suicide-the-legacy-of-the-troubles/

  • Zig70

    It may well be farcical to you and me. You can tut and leave them to rot or recognise the legacy of historical under investment, troubles and employment discrimination and step out of the box to help. Just to add, West Belfast is not all within a mile of the city centre. Some of the more deprived areas are 6miles out and even now you wouldn’t walk through some city centre areas to the west on a dark night. How many unionists have even been on the Falls road never mind Poleglass. It’s odd that most of east Belfast has never been in large parts of the city. We aren’t dealing with sensible logic. In Mexico some companies employ buses to pick folks up directly from their homes and even then getting your workforce out is difficult. In S. Korea I was picked up outside my apartment by a company minibus for a 3hr commute to the city centre. Albeit the apartment was picked for being on that route. The work force here has issues from any part of the city that needs addressing when compared to migrant Polish work ethic but that’s another issue again.

  • Thomas Barber

    Well if people believe 100% claimants from west Belfast are republican and Catholic then whats up with me saying 100% of that 15% who are protestant are claiming DLA.

  • puffen

    Why do these Irish American Billionaires, who may large sums of dosh, to sit at fund raising SF dinners, and listen to Beardy, invest in West Belfast, why do they prefer to go elswhere?

  • Zeno

    That attitude does exist, but I do know a good few businessmen from West Belfast. I also know girls who work in retail and guys who worked on the building sites when there was work. You can’t paint them all with the same brush. The smart ones will leave.

  • Zeno

    Choose life, Choose a Job, work for min wage.
    Get up at 6-30am and start work at 8am
    Pay your bus fare into town (£25. £30 quid a week) or walk.
    Make yourself some sandwiches and a a flask of tea or spend a fiver on lunch.
    Get home at 5-30 or 6pm
    Earn 13/14k a year.
    Maybe you can afford a few beers on Friday night……..
    I wouldn’t do it. My Kids are banned from doing it.

    The problem is slave labour, no one with any sense will do it.

    That is the problem.

  • Zeno

    Last figures I saw said over 4000 committed suicide between 2008 and 2013. I’d like to see a breakdown in age groups before I blame it on the troubles.
    If they are mostly older people, then you have a point, but I don’t believe they are.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    I wonder if the high DLA claims are more related to fraud than mental health? Areas with lots of criminals, like West Belfast, seem to be at the top of the stats.

  • BetsyGray

    No….I didn’t mention that… or any way suggest it acceptable behaviour. Fraud is wrong no matter who is carrying it out…but when billions go unclaimed in UK benefits every year…why isn’t this a scandal…?

  • barnshee

    No problem leaving 85% of W Belfast as Catholic DLA/ Dole claimants.
    Fairly close to reality?

  • Thomas Barber

    No you forgot to mention Suffolk, parts of Twinbrook, Both loyalist areas with 100% DLA claimants.

  • Old Mortality

    Zig
    I wasn’t calling it evidence, but at the time I was expecting to hear the not unreasonable argument that they would have feared for their personal safety by working elsewhere. Instead, that is what the said and it shocked me because they clearly didn’t feel the slightest embarrassment in saying it publicly. Maybe their view was exceptional, but it the idea that West Belfast is a discrete labour market is utter nonsense.

    So here’s an idea. Nobody can claim DLA benefit unless they are physically disabled OR are receiving treatment (and that excludes mere prescriptions) for mental disorders.

  • Old Mortality

    Really! Where did you get the statistics or did you knock on every door and ask?

  • Old Mortality

    Even more DLA claimants. You obviously don’t want to see a united Ireland in your lifetime.

  • aor26

    well what do you think??
    One reason is wages would be high here compared to many other countries therefore bigger profit margins can be made in other countries with lower living standards

  • PaulT

    Bit lost with this, DLA is being phased out in GB since 2013, there’s still a huge amount of churn, neither you or Salmon give figures for PIP claimants it’s replacement, is the 5% DLA figure including PIP?

  • Stephen

    I find the pigeon holing of people from the west of the city as lazy shirkers a tad distasteful, I am from West Belfast I am 45 years old i grew up in during the height of the troubles. i go to work everyday I work hard I enjoy the fruits of my labour. In this i am not unique. Quite telling that the Daily Gail has focused their ire on the most vulnerable in society. DLA isn’t just handed out on a whim there is a stringent criteria. Possibly if its not too much trouble could the author of this thread inform us of the various factories in West Belfast staffed with migrant workers. This may well be the case however isn’t it refreshing migrants feel safe working in the West of the city……

  • Zeno

    “Thats the first thing i have ever seen u write that makes sense”

    Cool, I’ve never seen you write anything remotely sensible.

    I put that down to your love affair with Sinn Fein.

  • Old Mortality

    ‘This may well be the case however isn’t it refreshing migrants feel safe working in the West of the city……’

    However, they tend not to live there, unless they’ve piled in since the last census.
    Actually, I also find it hard to believe that there are factories in West Belfast staffed by migrant labour. If that were so, it would be truly scandalous.

  • Stephen

    West Belfast an area with lots of criminals? how dare you

  • Stephen

    What like the Casement Park redevelopment…oh wait

  • Stephen

    Where are these factories Brian?

  • puffen

    So the Irish American Shinner, is not that committed to the cause, who would have thought it!
    ,

  • what concerns me

    How long has SF represented that area and they call themselves the People’s Champions? – clean sweep is needed in all areas. No more voting orange & green but for whoever will do what’s right for the people and not a cause. A cause will not pay the bills unless you are highly connected and it sure as hell won’t fill an empty tummy

  • Thomas Barber

    Same place Interested Observer got his statistics.

  • Tomas Gorman

    “What we also know is many claimants are spurious at best. I am from a working class area of Belfast and there is no shortage of people who never worked a day in their lives yet drive around in a brand new car.”

    Unsubstantiated, sweeping judgements with no statistical back up or analysis. Is this a serious political commentary site or Alf Garnetts living room?

  • Pasty2012

    The MP’s don’t have any authority or incentives to offer business to set up in any constituency in the North. The North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds has been the MP for a number of years and the UUP before him yet North Belfast has no large employers in it either, they are all around the same size as those in West Belfast with the largest being telephone sales and answering services. The issues are the same across the North with many of the Large industries that were sited in the East Belfast and North Antrim areas (Both solid Unionist) being closed down over the years.

  • Pasty2012

    The Unionist Party’s are the ones who have demanded that the Tory Welfare Reforms be introduced, a case of British Citizens demanding British Austerity. The Unionist Voters who are on benefits like DLA are therefore voting to have their benefits cut. Vote to END DLA Payments Vote DUP/UUP, Vote For Austerity Vote DUP/UUP Now.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Oh come on. Everyone knows that the crims live in the dodgy areas.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Nobody is saying everybody in the west. Just higher numbers of DLA claimer. But we all know the dodgy areas in NI are where the fraudulent benefit claimers are ?

  • NMS

    Tomás, the Northern Ireland rates are three times the rate of anywhere else in the UK. If you don’t want to look that far, when compared with Ireland, they show a similar level of divergence. Take a look at the Irish figures from Department of Social Protection’s Annual Statistical Report for y/e 31/12/2013 and the figures are similar to those of Britain.

    Between the four different types dealing with those that are ill, the number of claimants is 232,691 or 5.07% of the estimated population in 2013. Many of those included in that number are on illness benefit and are temporarily out of the workforce. Excluding the short-term claimants, the number is just 3.92% of the total population or around 5.6% – 5.7% of the 16-64 age group.

    There is clear evidence of something very wrong.

  • Thomas Barber

    You know lots of Irish passport holders who live in West Belfast who filled in British census forms ?

  • Thomas Barber

    Wasn’t there thousands of pounds worth of cannabis found in a house belonging to the leader of the SDLP and that was in South Belfast, what areas do all those dodgy MPs who claim for £1 charity donations come from or those dodgy MPs who claim £1500 for fountain pens.

  • Sir Rantsalot

    Dunno. Doesn’t change the fact that loads of crims live in WB though.

  • Tomas Gorman

    There is evidence of high number of people claiming DLA. This does suggest that something is wrong. My issue is with the grand, value laden assumption that what wrong is fraud. I’d rather a more forensically derived evidence base than that before coming to a conclusion.

  • NMS

    Tomás, The proportion of the population claiming DLA in almost all of the electoral areas is excessive when compared with the UK or Ireland. If there had been some major health incident, then there may be a logical reason. However there has not been any such incident. http://aims.niassembly.gov.uk/questions/printquestionsummary.aspx?docid=226653

    I would suggest rather than fraud per se, there is a cocktail of reasons involved, which include fraud. High rates of claims of social assistance payments are seen as part of “paying for the peace”. Pay them to stay quiet. The proportion of people on these payments was known and ignored by those in authority and would have been provided by the Civil Service to them on a regular basis. In such circumstances, detailed and thorough investigations of claims are unlikely.

    The question itself looks like it was “planted”. Civil Servants wanted to get the information out in the public domain and gave it to a politician who is happy to ask awkward questions. The number of DLA claims is now on the Agenda – Mission Accomplished. A short, concise question is always the best.

    Planting questions or suggesting Freedom of Information requests are standard tools of Civil Servants unhappy with the the actions of their superiors. You also can’t be sacked for it, unlike leaking information.

  • Brian O’Neill

    I do not want to drag the company into the debate but all across NI you will find huge numbers of foreign workers in factories. For example certain well know chicken processing plants would grind to a halt without all the Portuguese and other foreign workers. Not many locals want to do the grim jobs like meat processing. Also the hard fact is many businesses prefer to hire a polish or other foreign national person over a local as their work ethnic is dramatically better.

    Also the Nhs locally is very reliant on foreign workers especially Filipino nurses.

  • Thomas Barber

    Doesn’t change the fact either that the real criminals have Sir at the start of their names.

  • Nimn

    Thank you for your good wishes. he’s just into an £1100 car which will do him for the next 3 years, I paid half he saved the rest. The thing is that sometimes the media and commentators give the impression that in areas where there are large number of people on benefits that the general community around them are broadly indifferent to the ‘lead swingers’ and accepting of those in real need. For people in low paid work, really trying to get by there is huge resentment for those who manage the benefits system to their own ends as well as getting a turn doing a bit of decorating or some such when it suits. That resentment also extends to those who really need benefits to get by and struggle and who see others milk the system. My brother is pragmatic. He receives a lot of goodwill from neighbours, which is worth more than the heads of resentment a shiny new car at his door would engender.

  • Nimn

    The point is that one doesn’t cancel out the other. They are both wrong on different scales and both need to be addressed.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    You wouldn’t work and your kids are banned from working?

  • Zeno

    Work for minimum wage.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    We all have to start somewhere and surely it’s better to have a job than no job at all?

  • Zeno

    Depends on how you think about it. A full time min wage job will generally take up 50 hours of your week. That includes travel etc. You end up with a couple of hundred pounds a week or £4 an hour. It’s much better to figure out ways of making more than £4 an hour than spending 50 hours a of your week to be £4 an hour better off.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    I absolutely do not disagree that we should be aiming for above minimum wage, however such jobs give good grounding and help candidates no end.

  • Zeno

    Maybe in some cases, but in most it’s just a trap and if you take a min wage job you will most likely never progress. Labour is so cheap here that we even have firms from the ROI expanding into NI to take advantage of it.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    It’s a valid point that you’re making but I do feel people should work their way up rather than expecting to be dropped immediately into a high paying job. Incidentally, what constitutes a high paying job in NI?

  • what concerns me

    sounds great – your brother’s community reminds me of where I lived as a child when we all looked out for each other, but your brother did not ask for his illness & I’m sure if he was able would work his butt off. Some people have been raised to see a life of benefits as a way of life, in our family, you were told to “get out and get a job” – My sister is 70 this year still working full-time, her husband is 78 and works 4 days a week.

    I love the way you talk about your brother and you can hear the general admiration for him through the words

  • Brian O’Neill

    tHe average wage in NI is £24k according to:
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-30114530

    So I suppose anything more than the average would be considered good?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Thanks Brian, 24k does seem rather a high figure, I would be interested in knowing how the BBC got their figures.

  • barnshee

    Explore the reason “labour is so cheap” and you might find that there is no solution
    (Hint supply and demand)

    Even a minimum wage job forces one to

    1 Get out of bed in the morning
    2 Adopt a reasonably clean and hygenic mode of dress and behaviour

  • Joe_Hoggs

    25% would sound a lot more like it. We all know people who get DLA but who are in no way entitled to it.

  • Zeno

    The government could legislate.
    If people need a job to make them get up in the morning and be clean and hygenic, that is a different problem.

  • murdockp

    I love the use of percentages. DLA fraud is off the scale. The signs at car dealerships for motability are greater in size the traditional marketing. Car dealers admit motability kept them going in recession. The statistic that I woul like to know is what percentage of motability cars are subject to being burnt out after three years compared with non motability cars of similar age.

    I ask this given the use of these cars as illegal taxis and mirage limits being exceeded.