The cost of benefits COUNCILLOR George Black says benefit fraud costs us £26bn per year (Independent Voice, October 12/10/10).

A recent national audit office inspection of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) books found out of £148bn benefits administered: • £1bn was lost to fraud (I have no figures on the status of the people involved or for sums recovered following arrests and convictions).

• £1.1bn was lost to customer error (There are over 60 million people in the UK if their arithmetic was out by 27p per day/£100 per year that error would be £6bn.) • £1.1bn was lost to official error.

• Underpayments in 2009/10 were £1.3bn.

I have no figure for unclaimed benefits arising from the DWP’s failure to inform claimants about their legal entitlements.

Perhaps Councillor Black can find that out.

However, let’s be 110 per cent crystal clear, all talk of “inefficiencies” in the public sector at this moment in time has to do with a deeply prejudiced and politically motivated attack on the welfare state by the rich.

If you’re looking for record breaking examples of monumental economic failure, take a look at the private sector, the banks and their big business clients.

James Graham Socialist News, address supplied Community action Community action I READ with interest the remarks made by [the council’s] current chief executive about the “unprecedented financial challenges facing West Dunbartonshire”.

Can I take you back to March 31 this year when the Accounts Commission (AC) found that “the council had made limited progress on ensuring appropriate strategic leadership and effective relationships between members and senior officers. We cannot, therefore, be confident of the council’s ability to make difficult decisions that address these financial difficulties”.

The report alluded to above came at a time when we didn’t have the current financial problems we have today, so why are we so surprised that a council which could not address the financial difficulties then is about to attack the most vulnerable in our society - the elderly, disabled, unemployed and our young people?

We have the remarkable situation where the depute council leader accuses a senior officer of “causing mayhem”, this will definitely go along way to allaying the “unfounded” fears of the AC back in March. This is unprecedented times and with this comes great opportunities, I feel communities only need to look at the Community Action party in England to see what true community representation can do.

We need to ask ourselves if our views are being truly represented at local level, or if we feel that there are people from our communities who are better placed to represent our views in the council chambers.

Only when we get the right councillors and subsequently officers are told what role they are there to play, can we start to deal with the systematic attack on our public services by the Tory party.

Let’s not kid ourselves here, the reduction in the size of the public sector is, and always has, ran deep at the heart of Tory ideology, if we accept that these massive cuts to the public sector are the only way forward then the SNP, Labour and other parties will be manipulated into introducing Tory policy in Scotland.

If other political parties are not willing to resist and reject this latest Tory attack on the working classes, then is it time for our communities to put forward candidates who will?

Jack McGougan Renton