Tories hit back at criticism of benefits operation

By Ross Findon

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

 

CONSERVATIVES on the Isle of Wight have hit back at criticism of an operation to catch benefit cheats.

Officers from the Isle of Wight Council benefit fraud team and the Department of Work and Pensions took part in last week's police-led 'ring of steel' operation, interviewing those who were stopped about their working and living arrangements.

The operation, which led to 25 fraud investigations, prompted criticism from Isle of Wight Labour who accused the officers of Big Brother-style intrusion.

Today, however Isle of Wight Council leader Cllr David Pugh, speaking as leader of the ruling Tory group, said: "The culture of benefit dependency soared under the Labour Government, so it is little surprise that their local representatives are opposed to firm action to tackle benefit fraud.

"The Island Conservatives fully support the crackdown to identify potential fraud cases, and we will continue to support IW Council officers and other agencies in taking such steps.

"The fact that 25 benefit fraud investigations were sparked by the operations shows that this has been a worthwhile exercise. These could amount to 25 thefts of taxpayers’ money which may not have been identified if the Island Labour Party had their way. It is clear whose side they are on.

"All hard-working, honest Island taxpayers should have nothing to fear from such operations continuing to take place in order to identify the small minority of people who are abusing the benefits system."

Isle of Wight Labour Party chair Deborah Gardiner said yesterday (Monday): "While Labour Party members naturally disapprove of benefit fraud, the police seem to have issued an entirely inappropriate invitation to the agencies who deal with this fraud to join in a motoring operation and to interrogate innocent people about their private lives."

Reporter: ross.findon@iwcp.co.uk

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Displaying the last 10 of 23 comments - Show All Comments

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by Moomin Mama

5th December 2012, at 13:14:59

I wonder if they will publish the cost of resources needed to initiate this 'sting' compared with any monies recovered from potential 'fraudsters'. I think there may be a large discrepancy between the two figures, the former being far higher! Mrs Pyke, Ryde, Isle of Wight

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by ROBERT SMITH

5th December 2012, at 11:17:17

@Peter Lewis I too can also remember the previous TORIE government when they set working man against working man. JUST WHAT THEY ARE DOING NOW.
One question I have is Mr PUGH the same Mr PUGH head of OUR council which is directly responsible for EDUCATION that has a PAID consultant role for education with a company that LOBBY'S our friends in no 10. HAVE the council or the approbate bodies in the TORIE party looking at the conflict of interest when he has his education hat on in council?

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by Peter Lewis

5th December 2012, at 09:30:47

I've already commented on this so have nothing new to add the rights or wrongs. However as someone who grew up through the Thatcher era I find it hard to swallow that a Tory Cllr is using the sad abd frankly "old" statement about it all being down to a benfits culture under Labour. My memories are growing up with mass unemployment in South Wales , in no small measure due to Tory policy, Stop slinging mud and start taking responsibility for what YOU can do now. It would appear that it's only politicians who are innocent till proven guilty.

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by Mr Elliott

5th December 2012, at 09:01:11

"The fact that 25 benefit fraud investigations were sparked by the operations shows that this has been a worthwhile exercise.'

Sounds like they've already decided they are guilty. I wonder how many, if any, result in prossecution.

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by Dennis Perks

5th December 2012, at 08:39:59

It's a complete joke. Honest people going about their business, stopped and asked personal questions. What happens if you refuse (which I am sure you have the right to do)? I live and work in London but am from the sunshine isle. I know what they would get if this kind of approach was attempted on London streets. A short sharp f*** *** mate and we're on our way. Farcical really.

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by John Ward

5th December 2012, at 08:25:22

@ Ian Young, you have hit the nail on the head with your comments. This is a matter of civil liberties and we should all be entitled to walk or drive through the streets without the worry of being stopped and questioned. I have no problem whatsoever the police doing their job to make the our roads safer, you just need to read the county press each week to see it is needed with all the accidents on our roads lately. And by all means DWP do your investigations into benefit cheats, but do it to the people you suspect not innocent people going about their own business.
John Ward, Vice-Chairman - Isle of Wight Liberal Democrats

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by ian armstrong

5th December 2012, at 06:40:15

We don't live in a free country, we are in a communist regime led by Brussels. Read 1984 by George Orwell, the similarities are scary.

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by nigel foster

5th December 2012, at 01:24:04

The council and the police are the servants of the people, including the poor ones, so they should stop behaving like bullies.

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by nigel foster

5th December 2012, at 01:20:03

Sentence first verdict afterwards
Off with her head!' the Queen shouted at the top of her voice. Nobody moved.

'Who cares for you?' said Alice, (she had grown to her full size by this time.) 'You're nothing but a pack of cards!'

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by ed mew

4th December 2012, at 22:02:01

My story is a bit different, I am a taxi driver and there is a debate due on the 10th of December, questioning whether taxi fares on the island should go up!!! It is a shame that every taxi proprieter (owner) is allowed to attend but is not allowed to speak. So much for democracy !!!!

Any views or opinions presented in the comments above are solely those of the author and do not represent those of the Isle of Wight County Press.

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