Letter: Whose benefit?

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The Independent Culture
Sir: I've had a lifetime of experience in apportioning benefits and advising those who claim them ("Eighty MPs defy Blair on welfare", 21 May). Initially, as an executive officer with the National Assistance Board, I worked to a system which had a welfare content but rarely met a first claim, and many a subsequent one, without a home visit being made.

Admittedly in some areas only about 20 in 1,000 of the population received help, but that was not taken as a reason to ignore the need for proper investigation. In my own district over three years there was only one case of detected fraud. This was successfully prosecuted. The Tory government to all intents did away with the home visit. Fraud blossomed.

Later in life, I turned poacher as a social worker and encouraged clients to take up their real (or imagined) rights. I was aware of many instances where the whole truth was not made known to the judicial bodies.

Labour MPs now in revolt are raising the wrong issues. There must be closer scrutiny of claims. But there must also be an increase in the welfare aspect of those claims which are successful. Firstly, the country can't afford the present wrongful spending. Secondly, the real disabled should not be subsidising the sham.

Don't say I'm seeing this from the outside. I have a war pension.

JIM BRUNTON

Edinburgh

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