The results of a new Government-commissioned inquiry have revealed that women benefit cheats are still earning less than their male counterparts. Despite a dramatic rise in the numbers of people claiming benefits in 2009, the figures show that the average female malingerer is still getting only 89p for every pound a male fraudster hoodwinks off the state.
The report recommends that more be done to create ‘Dole Models’ for young women to aspire to, and for a network of ‘drop-out’ centres to be established, where girl grifters can learn how to forge a dead relative’s signature or pull off a convincing limp.
Convicted fraudster Michelle is one of those helping to inspire the next generation of ‘ladybouts’. Michelle was nicknamed Miss X by fraud officers until they realised that she was using that name to sign on as well.
She was prosecuted six months ago, for working under the false name Peggy Mitchell, while claiming benefits. Encouraged by her then employer, she picked the name randomly from a newspaper and changed some of the digits in her National Insurance number. ‘I was petrified of being caught in the beginning, but then it went on and I was getting away with it. The money came in handy, and I always seemed to get plenty of bar work on the side,’ she says.
Welfare campaigner Wilfred Perch believes that social security needs to be extended to prevent women spongers being discouraged by the perceived ‘glass giro’, which stops them rising to the top of the earners league. He says, ‘Women fraudsters are still being pigeon-holed into Housing and Child Benefit claims, but what’s wrong with them having a punt for traditionally male swizzles like Income Support or a Community Care Grant?’
Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) denies that she manipulated the figures in the report. She says, ‘What the report doesn’t address is how many male fraudsters are actually being sent out ‘on the swindle’ by their wives and female partners. The figures aren’t as clear cut as they first appear, especially if you muck about with them a bit.’
Shadow minister for women, Daphne Crisp says, ‘Too many women are being discouraged from going ‘on the fiddle’ by a perception that they won’t be able to pull off as convincing a con as a man. This is patently rubbish. After all, women have been successfully faking it to men for generations.’