Prime minister David Cameron has announced a crackdown on people who are treating the benefits system like their own private parliamentary expenses account.
Cameron told reporters that benefit cheats making MP-style fraudulent claims, for sums to which they are definitely not entitled, was costing the tax payer £5.2bn a year.
Writing in the Manchester Evening News, the prime minister said that tougher penalties and prosecutions would be introduced to deter people from copying everything their MPs had been doing for years.
“We want to encourage people to shop anyone they find behaving like their MP,” he explained.
“If you’re out at work all day and you get home and find that your neighbour, who is unemployed, is having a leaking pipe replaced on his tennis court, or is having a 5ft duck house installed into his pond then you have every right to be suspicious. After all, you’re almost certainly paying for that.”
Multi-millionaire Cameron, who claimed £80,000 in additional costs for his second home in Oxfordshire between 2004 and 2008, has pledged to strain every sinew to cut error, waste and fraud in our welfare system.
Cameron has significant insight into the methods used by those seeking to take advantage of a poorly administered system which gives out seemingly ‘free’ money.
His own expenses claims included services for clearing wisteria and vines from a chimney, replacing outside lights and resealing his conservatory roof, odd jobs including repairing cisterns, washers and a leaky washing machine, the council tax on the home near Chipping Norton, utility bills, house insurance and oil heating costs.
He concluded his article by describing the MP-like behaviour of many welfare claimants as “absolutely outrageous” and stressed that “now that we can not get away with it ourselves, we simply will not stand by and watch others do the same.”