Welfare myths

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David Cameron has promised yet more welfare cuts if the Tories win the next election. The only response from Liam Byrne, Labour's shadow secretary for work and pensions, was to complain the government is actually increasing the welfare bill.

Labour seems convinced that public opinion agrees with the government over "benefit scroungers". There is some evidence for this, though it's hardly surprising given the relentless message pumped out across the media and echoed by all the main parties.

But it can be challenged. For example, the public significantly overestimate benefit fraud. So where the public estimates that 3 out of 10 disability claimants are falsely claiming, the government's own official estimates are that fraudulent claims for income support due to disability stand at 3 percent. For Disability Living Allowance, estimated fraud is just 0.4 percent.

Official figures suggest welfare fraud (mostly claimed by the poor and desperate) costs around £1.3 billion, a fraction of the billions lost to tax avoidance and evasion (mostly the preserve of the rich). But these are arguments Labour appears incapable of making.