Disabled campaigner says Philpott fire case must not be used for 'political point-scoring'
Disabled campaigner Sandra Pember, from Gloucester, writes about the benefits debate which followed the jailing of Mick Philpott in Derby for killing six of his children in a fire:
IT would be very wrong indeed, in the wake of the Philpott scandal, to suggest or imply that all benefit claimants are abusing the welfare system.
Yes, Philpott was able to play the system, a system which was open to abuse.
That wasn't his fault – it was the system which was wrong and needs changing.
Gents, come in to Earl's & Co and enjoy a haircut and finish, glass of whisky and a shoeshine for £18.50
Terms: Later and earlier appointments available upon request
Contact: 01242 504887
Valid until: Tuesday, December 31 2013
However, he was an evil individual with a lifestyle which 99.9 per cent of the population would find absolutely abhorrent.
I think the government as a whole must be exceedingly careful how it reacts in light of this scandal as it could have a detrimental effect on how all benefit claimants are viewed by the general public.
To cherry pick one tragic case where six innocent children perished to justify punishing all claimants would be beneath contempt, and a potentially dangerous route to go down.
Any suggestion of political point-scoring between parties on the back of this tragedy would also be looked upon by the public as utterly disgraceful and unforgivable.
There needs to be a cross-party statement on this very delicate subject in view of the escalating anger and finger-pointing which has come at a time of sweeping changes to the benefit system.
Some would say Philpott has been an absolute godsend and a distraction for those who want to punish benefit claimants. But it must be remembered that not everyone is work shy or abusing the system. Indeed, many claimants do work and pay tax!
Working Tax Credits themselves could actually be seen as the welfare state supporting low-paying employers.
The state pension is paid out of the benefit system, so it can't be seen throwing money at the unemployed.
Most people will agree that there needs to be an overhaul and a common-sense approach to making alterations to the benefit system.
But we must ensure that those on the very lowest of household incomes are looked after ahead of those who don't really need the help. Mr Cameron himself was claiming DLA for his disabled son, a non-means-tested benefit, despite being a millionnaire. Surely those days must now be over, when we are expecting millions of households who struggle to live on well under £6,000 per year?
A very complex emotive subject but one which must be tackled without widespread kneejerk reactions to a handful of extremely upsetting and isolated cases.