There is no doubt that the power that bailiffs have to seize goods and items from people is an emotive subject and one that never fails to spark a highly charged level of debate. While there will be some people who believe that this style of action is fair retribution for people who are not playing fair in society, there are just as many people who feel that this is a major invasion of privacy and is a terrible option to have and utilise.
A new level of debate has been sparked by the fact that the powers provided to bailiffs dealing with people who illicitly gain from the fraudulent claims on the welfare system could be on the rise. The government is looking to increase the powers provided to bailiffs with respect to confiscation matters and which will see the bailiffs being able to sell of items of a high value.
With the cost to the taxpayer of fraudulent welfare claims coming in at around £1.2bn, there is a clear reason why significant action has to be taken. Given the state of the economy, no one can remotely come close to justifying the fact that over £1bn of fraud should be written off or left to let slide in the economy. However, there will be debate over the actions taken by bailiffs if these powers are granted.
Government wants to give bailiffs new powers
At the moment, there is an option to dock the benefits provided to people who have been found guilty of fraud but many within the government, including Prime Minister David Cameron doesn’t believe that this goes far enough. This is why the proposal that will see people losing out on assets that are extremely valuable or which may mean a lot to them will be of considerable benefit in attempting to prevent people from undertaking this style of fraud.
The thinking behind the proposed powers will be that the thought of having a bailiff coming to your door to make your belongings and possessions will provide the incentive for fraudsters to pay up on what they are deemed to have been owed. The proposal has stated that essential items, which will likely include white goods will not be taken and goods which carry a low value will not be taken either.
Controversy is always present when welfare fraud is examined
There has been a lot of controversy over the focus that the government has placed on tackling welfare fraud. While this sort of activity amounts to a large sum of money, many others state that the money that is not collected through massive corporate fraud or through firms finding loopholes to pay low levels of tax are far more pressing and would result in a massive influx of cash to the government. It is hard to argue with this point but of course, all fraudulent activities should be focused on.
Many people who are opposed to the latest focus on welfare fraud may be a bit more supportive to this approach if there was an even handed approach taken by the coalition government but as is normal with certain government parties in power, it is the poor that is being targeted in the strongest manner and fashion. This means that some people will agree with this strategy and others will oppose it, based purely on their political beliefs and the reasons that they support a certain political party in the United Kingdom.
There is no doubt that there are many different types of benefits fraud and it can only be hoped that focus will fall on the people who are clearly defrauding the system as opposed to making poor or ill-informed decisions. There has been a rise in the number of claims being made by people who are in full-time employment and not entitled to welfare assistance from the government. There have even been cases where people have been found to have a portfolio or properties and have large levels of capital which have been left undeclared.
There is a very wide spectrum to consider when thinking about welfare fraud and it is important to ensure that people who require welfare support but perhaps haven’t went about receiving assistance in the right way are not swept up in the desire to attack people who have been acting in a strongly fraudulent manner.
Andrew Reilly is a freelance writer with a focus on news stories and consumer interest articles. He has been writing professional for 8 years but has been writing for as long as he can care to remember. When Andrew isn’t sat behind a laptop or researching a story, he will be found watching a gig or a game of football.