What is striking about both of these places is they are traditional working class areas that lost out when de-industrialisation gradually took place all around the Perry Barr area from the years of Margaret Thatcher right through to the promises of things "can only get better" with Tony Blair . There is a lot of knackered up people in these areas.
Now the motto is "Things can only get bitterer" as benefit claims are reviewed and reviewed till the new terror comes home . The new terror is a jobless economy and busted up working class that is not going to magically recover because politicians desire it . Yet the pressure is on to be seen to be "doing something" . It makes good press though and it does point to a genuine unresolvable anxiety that somehow the country just aint going to make it without a "working class" ... Can you remake a working class from the disabled or the unhealthy ? More to the point - who will make and sell what ? Who will compete with low wages in China and India ? Who will magically reinvent the 19th century free market conditions of europes ascendancy which carried on into the 20th century and has now ended in the 21st with masses of invented money and masses and masses of borrowing and banking debt .. ?
Does it matter ? Politicians have got the fox in sight ... Ride it to ground, and rip it apart with the hounds ... Amazingly 19th century isn't it ... Over to the DWP's own text below :
[QUOTE from 8th July DWP Press Release]
"Benefit cheats are being warned today that a new Mobile Regional Taskforce to combat fraud will be visiting their area. This new team will target all high risk postcodes across the country re-examining claims for benefits and Tax Credits.
The Taskforce is the latest crack-down on benefit fraud by the Department for Work and Pensions and HMRC alongside local authorities, and cheats are being urged to admit their crimes and pay back the money before they get a knock on the door.
Lord Freud, Minister for Welfare Reform said:
"The new Taskforce is our latest weapon in tackling welfare fraud on the front line. We are sending a clear warning that if you are fiddling the system, you will be caught. Welfare fraud is a crime and takes money away from the most vulnerable.
"People who are receiving the correct benefits and Tax Credits have absolutely nothing to fear. But if people have deliberately not told us of a change in circumstances, they should do so now, before the team comes knocking at their door.
"Alongside the Taskforce we are bringing in the Universal Credit which will simplify and automate the benefits system. This will make it much easier to catch people who make false claims."
People who tell the Department about a change in their circumstances before they are found out by the Taskforce will have to repay the money they owe, and, depending on the seriousness of their action, may face an additional punishment. Anyone who doesn’t take this opportunity and is found by the Taskforce to be committing welfare fraud could be prosecuted and fined or imprisoned.
David Gauke MP, Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury said:
"This government will not tolerate money which is meant for those in genuine need being siphoned off into the pockets of cheats and fraudsters.
"The new taskforce delivers on our commitment to tackle benefit fraud and together with the extra £917 million we have re-invested in HMRC sends a very clear message."