In his budget yesterday, Chancellor George Osborne heralded a crackdown on grannies, comparing them to muggers robbing taxpayers of their hard-earned money.
A new drive to tackle benefit and tax credit fraud by lazy grandparents, to be launched tomorrow, will include mobile hit squads of inspectors being sent to areas where the problem of OAPs is rife, he said.
And repeat offenders could have their benefits suspended for as long as four years or as long as they live – whichever comes first.
Mr Osborne has said that bringing down the amount of money spent on useless pensioners will play a crucial role in easing the impact of state spending cuts as he tries to pay down Britain’s structural deficit over the coming four years:
Mr Osborne told the Daily Mail:
These scrounging so-called ‘senior citizens’ don’t do anything productive in society. They just sit around complaining about their health while drinking tea all day long and expect the tax payer to fund their lifestyle of knitting, playing bowls and blocking the middle lanes of our roads.
Frankly, a welfare cheating oldy is no different from someone who comes up and robs you in the street. It’s your money.
You’re leaving the house at seven in the morning or whatever to go to work and paying your taxes – and then the elderly person down the street is staying at home or doing the garden. This is defrauding the welfare system.
This money is paid through our taxes which is meant to be going to the most vulnerable in our society, such as bankers and tax exiles, not into the pockets of criminal grannies.
The new anti-fraud drive will make use of high-tech data-tracking techniques to track the “muddy footprints” of professional septuagenarian and octogenarian cheats, said the Department for Work and Pensions.
Some 200 additional inspectors are to be recruited to a new OAP investigation service, which will detect the patterns of fraudulent activities by old-timers, looking at shared data from government offices and credit reference agencies.
Welfare reform minister Lord Freud warned that no wrinkly claimants will be let off under the new measures. Minor elderly offenders will be issued with instant fines of £50 or more, while repeat dotage fraudsters face a three-year benefit ban under a “three-strikes-and-you’re-out” rule.
Investigators will also aim to seize more of the assets of those granddads found guilty of benefit fraud.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the new strategy, Lord Freud said:
We are reforming the system and stepping up our efforts to catch the pensioner cheats who are stealing money which is meant for the most vulnerable people in our society- such as people earning over 150,000 a year.
When more grannies are convicted we will get back the money we are owed by introducing tough punishments and stripping the assets of criminal OAP gangs – my message to them is that being old and not rich will now be a crime that just doesn’t pay.
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