The DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) announced yesterday that the amount of five key income related benefits that went unclaimed rose to £10.5bn in 2007/08. While it is perhaps sobering to know that there are those out there who do not feel the need to rely on the government to survive, we also have to bear in mind that the unclaimed money won't be coming back to us anytime soon.
For many of those non-claimants, especially the pensioners, the money that is currently rotting in government hands is in fact their own that they lost through being forced to pay taxes. The government over the past 12 years has created a monster: a complicated tax system and an incomprehensible benefits system. The simple approach of setting free all of those who are low-earners by raising the allowance would of course render a huge number of civil servants redundant, but at least they'd understand the claims system. This is the approach that is needed to tighten up wasteful spending by government and to assist in lowering the burden of taxation.
The unclaimed benefits numbers are further compounded by the fact that the level of fraud/over-payment continues to remain around £2.7bn. There are also underpayments of around £1.2bn. All of these figures represent why the public sector should not be handed our money to dish out on the whims of politicians. And why the system as it currently stands is in serious need of a simplifying overhaul.