Key findings / Tough on benefits fraud and tax evasion

Tough on benefits fraud and tax evasion

While the public is softening its attitudes to benefit recipients, it is nonetheless clear that benefit fraud is wrong, even if the abuse does not involve eyewatering sums. Nearly everyone (91%) thinks that using false information to support a claim is usually wrong, and this falls only slightly if the person is using a “legal-loophole” (to 61% and 48%, respectively). This suggests it is the spirit of the rules that often matters for people, not just whether the strict legal rules have been obeyed.

Overall, people are slightly tougher on benefit fraud than tax evasion. Sixty-eight per cent of people think it is wrong to not declare casual work to the benefit office to gain £500, compared with 56% thinking that it is wrong not to declare casual work for tax purposes to gain £500. This gap suggests that for some, money taken from the public purse is worse than money denied to it. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, we find that those on higher incomes and those who are
on the right are more relaxed about tax loopholes. Conversely, those on the left tend to be more relaxed about people using benefit loopholes.

Public are more disapproving of welfare fraud than a paid employee tax dodging


Author: Roger Harding, Head of Public Attitudes, The National Centre for Social Research