More disturbing, however, than these glib comments that suggest our politicians have a limited understanding of living on the breadline, is the continual drip feed of misinformation about the poor that comes from official channels. The DWP could soon start running masterclasses in point of view and the unreliable narrator. Perhaps that would be a healthier way of managing the debt than demonising a group of people who are already down:
Fraud, which accounts for less than 1% of the overall benefits bill, was
mentioned 85 times in the press releases, while it was not used at all in the final year of Labour, which was itself accused of sometimes using intemperate language on the issue.
In the 25 speeches by DWP ministers on welfare over the year, "dependency" was mentioned 38 times, while "addiction" occurred 41 times and "entrenched" on 15 occasions. A comparison of 25 speeches on the subject by Labour ministers saw the words used, respectively, seven times, not at all, and once.
If you ever despair, as I do, that fiction is unequal to all this propaganda, take heart from this research from the University of Manchester and London School of Economics. These are a couple of my favourite compassionate novelistic takes on poverty – how about you?