Providers have to play the game of the benefit system without knowing the rules

On Tuesday, Shona Craven pointed to unclaimed benefits running into the billions, while the focus is on ‘benefits fraud’ (Conservatives seem content that benefits go unclaimed, May 24). I wonder if many readers are aware that many local authorities employ benefit maximization teams to help vulnerable people access the benefits to which they are entitled.

In my experience, the DWP seems to be a benefit minimization organization. In trying to help vulnerable young adults claim the benefits owed to them, I have encountered outright hostility towards those who ask questions. A young man was forcibly removed from the benefits office for losing his temper when he was pushed away – he suffered from ADHD, was profoundly deaf and diabetic.

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We, the famous taxpayer, pay two sets of civil servants to manage the benefit system. One team tries to prevent people from getting benefits and the other tries to maximize access. We should ask ourselves why this is so. We also have universal credit paid to those who work. This is a direct subsidy to employers who game the system to cut costs by offering short hours and low hourly rates. This is another burden on the taxpayer that indicates what the government’s agenda is for “business”.

No one wishes poverty on any person or family, but the way we structure our benefits system makes it a shameful game for recipients to play without knowing the rules. This requires considerable reform.

David Neilson

Can anyone help me understand why, because I retired before 2016, I am entitled to the old state basic pension? This will equate to £7922 per year. That’s £2418 LESS per year than those who retired after that date.

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I have worked all my life since leaving school at 15, only taking time off from work to look after my children for eight years in the 1970s, followed by periods of teacher training and nursing education. I am now 75 years old and feel that my contribution to my society over the years counts for very little.

I can find the deadline, but not the REASON for this deadline. Do we older people deserve to be so ignored?


WHY no matter the price of fuel, it’s always a pound something over nine or seven at best. It’s never point one, three or five! Could it be that our own gas stations are also profiting at our expense?

Steve Cunningham

IT is pleasing to note that African-born slave Joseph Knight will feature on one of the specially commissioned banners that will hang from Perth Town Hall when it reopens in May 2024.

Transported to Jamaica as a child of Guinea, Knight was sold to John Wedderburn of Ballindean, who brought him to Scotland in 1769 to work as a servant. While in Scotland, Knight was baptized and married Ann Thompson, a family servant, with whom he had at least one child. However, Wedderburn refused him permission to live with his wife and family.

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Faced with this refusal, Knight then left his service but Wedderburn had him arrested. In 1774 Knight complained to the Justices of the Perth Court of the Peace and when they found in favor of Wedderburn Knight appealed to the Sheriff of Perth. The latter noted that the state of slavery was not recognized by “the laws of the kingdom”.

In 1777 Wedderburn appealed to the Court of Session in Edinburgh, Scotland’s supreme civil court, arguing that Knight still owed him perpetual service and that he could be taken and forcibly returned to Jamaica. The court upheld the sheriff’s decision, finding that in fact slavery was not recognized under Scottish law. Fugitive slaves could therefore be protected by the courts if they wished to leave domestic service or if they resisted attempts to bring them back into slavery in the colonies.

It is fantastic that this lesser known but very significant episode in Scottish history should be recognized in this way.

Alex Orr

In view of all the recent muddles about forming councils made up of seemingly toxic groups, one wonders how these are possible. The answer, I believe, is not pleasant for our democracy. The main actor of the minor parties seeking to take control of the council makes an agreement to share positions of power and influence on the boards of committees and independent organizations which comes with an additional payment.

They are effectively led to coalesce; maybe bribed might be a more apt description. This is the fundamental flaw in the voting system, which makes it almost impossible for a single party to obtain a majority. Until a change is made so that the elected majority party must exercise joint control, this affront to democracy will continue where the will of the majority is not carried out but subverted by this type of behavior.

A Jaap
by email

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