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Poverty blamed for benefit fraud in UK

Iran Materials 16 June 2006 16:15

(IRNA) - People who work but illegally claim benefits in the UK often do so because they are under financial pressure from poverty, according to a British charity.

Many claimants, who take illegal cash-in-hand jobs to pay for food and heating or to make debt repayments, were "hard-working, ordinary people trying to survive day by day," a study by the Joseph Foundation found, reports Trend.

The charity called for reform of the tax and benefits system to move people from illegal jobs into legitimate work, saying the government needs to include the informal economy in its strategies if it is to reach its employment and anti-poverty targets.

The study, based on six years of work by the East London Community Links project which offers those in deprived areas education, childcare provision as well as help and advice, said people working and claiming benefits did so out of "need not greed".

"If you're poor and living in a deprived area, informal work is actually helping people out of absolute abject poverty, helping them survive," said the charity's spokesman Aaron Barbour.

Despite the introduction of tax credits, designed to supplement the incomes of the low-paid, many people in the study said they felt the system trapped them in a poverty cycle.

The study called for there to be more support, training and development for people who wanted to move from cash-in-hand to formal work.

As for government measures to combat benefit fraud, the study concluded they had "limited success where poverty drives the decision to work informally".

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