Dear Mr Glen,
The Government is trying to justify its across the board cuts to welfare benefits by smearing all recipients as feckless scroungers. This smearing inevitably includes those in work but on low pay and those who are genuinely unable to work due to illness or disability. We all acknowledge the need to reform our welfare system and reduce, as far as possible, fraud, abuse and dependency. But most of us also agree that this must be based on facts, evidence and rational, reasoned debate, plus the need to have a little Christian empathy for those who are not as lucky as ourselves.
So here are some questions that I would like you to answer on behalf of your government: (John has provided the answers, via the House of Commons Library, so I have included them here in green text. See bottom of page for full sources.)
How many non-UK nationals are responsible for tax credit fraud? No data but estimated to be a very small percentage.
How many families are there where three generations have never worked? Ans: None
How many families are ‘on’ £104,000 pa housing benefit and who actually gets the cash? Ans: 5 in 2010, now none. Of course the money does not go to the families, it goes to the landlord The families live in ordinary houses but are just unlucky to live in a country that allows the market to push rents up so high in certain areas that ordinary people, most of whom are in full time work, cannot afford them.
As the government repeatedly and persistently justifies its policies and rhetoric by referring to examples like these we must assume that Mr Glen can provide accurate data in support.
If there are no answers we can draw our own conclusions. OK we have the answers and we can draw our own conclusions.
Are there really families where three generations have never worked?
FactCheck: is Britain a tax credit haven? (Jan 2013)
Fact Check: State handouts: are benefits too generous? (Jan 2013)
How many families are claiming £100,000 per year in housing benefit? (Full Fact, Nov 2012)
Voters ‘brainwashed by Tory welfare myths’, shows new poll: Survey shows public ignorance of the level of benefits and who gets them. (Indep 4th Jan 2013)
Tory vilification campaign against the poor is so clever: David Cameron will oversee the worst child poverty record for a generation. Yet he is winning the public argument on cuts. (June 2012)
Disability claimants pushed to the brink by ‘faceless’ benefits system: Charities express anger at near-continuous work assessments that patients with incurable conditions are forced to endure. (Jan 2013)
Under George Osborne’s benefit cuts, it’s the strivers who suffer most: Advocates of cuts in welfare face an uncomfortable truth: much of the system is there to make work pay. (5th Jan 2013)
Support for benefit cuts dependent on ignorance, TUC-commissioned poll finds (Jan 2013)
This is the information John Glen obtained for me (in reply to my letter) from the House of Commons Library:
How many non-UK nationals are responsible for tax credit fraud?
No figures are held on this, as indicated by the following Government responses to Parliamentary Questions on this subject:
HC Deb 19 May 2011 c323W PQ 52911
HC Deb 11 Mar 2008 c372W PQ 193419
HMRC’s central estimate of total tax credit fraud in 2010-11 was £670 million, in respect of 190,000 claims (irrespective of nationality).
[source: Child and Working Tax Credits Error and Fraud Statistics 2010-11 table 4]
Nationals of other EEA member states receiving Child Tax Credit in respect of children living in another member state account for a very small proportion of CTC recipients:
HC Deb 25 Oct 2012 : Column 1022W
Welfare Tax Credits
Charlie Elphicke: To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer (1) what the aggregate annual value was of tax credits paid in respect of dependants who reside outside the United Kingdom; 
(2) how many dependants in respect of whom tax credits are paid reside outside the United Kingdom. 
Mr Gauke: The main purpose of the child tax credit is to support families in the UK. Consequently, the child tax credit rules generally do not provide for it to be paid in respect of children who live abroad other than in limited circumstances (for example, in the case of the children of a UK Crown servant posted overseas and the Crown servant’s accompanying partner) or to meet the UK’s obligations under EU law, specifically EC Regulation 883/2004. This regulation protects the social security rights of nationals of all member states of the European Economic Area (EEA), including the UK, and Switzerland when they exercise their rights of free movement under EU law.
Out of a total of approximately 5.2 million families currently receiving the child tax credit for almost 9.3 million children, at 30 September 2012 there were 3,447 ongoing awards of the child tax credit under EC Regulation 883/2004 in respect of 5,962 children living in another member state. This equates to around 0.06% of all child tax credit awards.
Information about the value of child tax credit awarded by the UK under EC Regulation 883/2004 is available only at disproportionate costs. This is because under the priority rules in that regulation not all awards of UK family benefits are made at full UK rates.
(breakdown by country given here – HL Deb 22 Oct 2012 cWA4-6)
How many families are there where three generations have never worked?
There are no figures on this either. The availability of data on multigenerational worklessness was examined by FullFact in an article last year:
The ONS estimated last year that there were 340,000 households in which no adult had ever worked (265,000 if student households are excluded):
[Source: Working and Workless Households, 2012 – Statistical Bulletin]
How many families are ‘on’ £104,000 pa housing benefit and who actually gets the cash?
In the June 2010 Budget Statement the Chancellor stated “Today there are some families receiving £104,000 a year in housing benefit.” [Source: HC Deb 22 Jun 2010 c174]. The Prime Minister recently repeated this claim in PMQs: HC Deb 16 January 2013 vol 556 c867.
When asked how many in 2010, the Government responded as follows:
HC Deb 12 July 2010 c526W
Ms Buck: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions pursuant to the answer of 5 July 2010 to the hon. Member for Edinburgh North and Leith, Official Report, column 95W, on housing benefit, how many households receive maximum housing allowance of £104,000 annually. 
Steve Webb: In June 2010 the highest local housing allowance rate was £2,000 a week which would be equivalent to ‘receiving £104,000 a year in housing benefit’ assuming the individual remains in receipt of the same level of benefit for 52 continuous weeks.
Information on housing benefit awards in June 2010 will be available in September 2010. The latest information the Department holds is for March 2010, when the highest local housing allowance rate was £1,800, and shows that there were some customers who received this rate.
The highest local housing allowance rate can vary each month and customers’ awards will reflect the rate at the time of their claim. At March 2010 there were fewer than 100 customers receiving a housing benefit award based on the highest local housing allowance rate at the time their award was calculated.
In 2011 the DWP produced an analysis of the number of Housing Benefit claimants receiving high annual amounts. The number of households receiving £50,000 or more as of November 2010 was estimated at 160. [Source: Housing Benefit by level of awards March 2011 table 2]
I hope this helps