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Benefit scrounger

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"Benefit scrounger" is a snarl word used by right-wing newspapers and related talking airheads in the United Kingdom. The benefit scrounger, according to these sources, is an individual who makes a profession out of milking the welfare system for all it is worth, rather than entering gainful employment.

The term is an example of the straw man fallacy, as most welfare recipients in the U.K. are either willing or unable to work,[1] and the few people who do cheat the system cause comparatively little drain upon it.[2] In addition, the sums paid out in benefits are such that it would be virtually impossible to earn more from benefits than full-time work without engaging in colossal fraud, which there are already laws to prevent. Naturally, the papers never put as much effort into demonising tax avoiders who cost the Treasury a lot more.

Anecdotes are another favoured tactic of these sources; they will take someone from the tiny minority of welfare recipients who are fraudulent or who received more money than they should have and sensationalise the story. Thus, the stereotype has been adopted by much of both the public and the coalition and Tory cabinets as an excuse for savage cuts in benefits and increasingly draconian tests to acquire them. As some illnesses and injuries are not visible to the naked eye (especially an untrained one), some pundits will quite arrogantly claim that many are fit to work, as if they know better than medical professionals who have seen them face-to-face.

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  1. Otherwise this wouldn't have happened, would it?
  2. For example, despite the many headlines about fraudulent Disability Living Allowance claims, the true figure was around half a percent of all monies paid out.