The Department for Work and Pensions statistics site Stat-Xplore will publish data on sanctions for the first time next month Continue reading Benefit sanctions data to be released for first time on DWP stats site
On Saturday a number of media outlets reported Government claims that nearly 900,000 people dropped benefit claims “rather than undergo a tough new medical test“. Reports in The Telegraph, Express, Daily Mail, MSN and Wales Online, based on a Press Association story, however, fail to dig deeper into the claims.
How accurate are they? Steve Walker has looked at the data, following a pointer from Declan Gaffney, and found the pattern of ‘dropped claims’ doesn’t support the headlines. HMI Welfare has re-checked and re-presented it, along with some documentary context. Here are the key findings: Continue reading Factcheck: 900,000 dropped benefit claims “rather than complete assessment”?
“Disingenuous” is a word I find I only use and use a lot when talking about the DWP.
The thought about audio-recording a WCA cropped up over a year ago and immediately gained the support of the illustrious Professor Harrington. More recently, there has been a lot of upset due to confusion over how will it work, when will it be available etc. and it has been the source of several parliamentary questions from interested MPs to the equally illustrious the Rt Hon Chris Grayling, Minister for Employment. Continue reading The Work Capability Assessment – Audio recording
The Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is the test through which the Department of Work & Pensions (DWP) determines entitlement to Employment & Support Allowance (ESA). It was introduced in 2008 and has been the source of considerable controversy since.
DWP outsourced the expertise it thought it needed to perform WCAs from a private company, Atos Healthcare, who in turn have recruited large numbers of healthcare professions (HCPs) – a combination of doctors, nurses and physiotherapists.
Although Atos HCPs perform WCAs and make a fit-for-work (FFW) recommendation to DWP, its own team of Decision Makers (DMs) make the final ESA decision. There is an appeal procedure that ends up with the Tribunals Service (TS). Continue reading Why doesn’t the DWP collect data on the accuracy of decision making?
“The implication is that we are likely to see over 320,000 successful appeals before this process is finished – about a fifth of all the former claimants of Incapacity Benefit. This will not be the total of wrong decisions, because a proportion of people who have been wrongly excluded will also be denied benefit; it will only be the decisions that have been proven to be wrong, after the DWP and claimants have been forced through an expensive and time-consuming appeal process to set things right. This is a shambles.”
If you need help investigating this further, let us know.
UPDATE: In the comments Paul adds the following:
“While I’m pleased by the widespread circulation of this posting, this was only a quick, back-of-the-envelope calculation, and I cannot hold to it with any degree of confidence. In particular,
* the rate of decision-making has slowed
* the statistical information in the tables does not cover the same time periods, and none of the information is fully up to date
* the level of new appeals seems to be falling
* the success rate seems to be falling, and
* large numbers of appeals appear to be disappearing from the process without explanation.
“That does not undermine the general point, that very large numbers of cases are proving to have been wrongly decided.”
A report published today on the controversial welfare reform bill, reveals Parliament may only have been told the partial truth about the overwhelming opposition to the government’s consultation on the planned changes to the Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Some of the main conclusions of the document, which came to to be known as the “Spartacus report”, are summed up below:
- Only 7% of organisations that took part in the consultation were fully in support of plans to replace DLA with PIP
- There was overwhelming opposition in the consultation responses to nearly all of the government’s proposals for DLA reform
- The government has consistently used inaccurate figures to exaggerate the rise in DLA claimants
- The report shows that nearly all of the recent increase in working-age claimants of DLA has been associated with mental health conditions and learning difficulties. Between 2002 and 2010, the number of working-age DLA claimants – excluding those with mental health conditions and learning difficulties remained remarkably stable
- 98% of those who responded opposed plans to change the qualifying period for PIP from three months (as it is with DLA) to six months
- 90% opposed plans for a new assessment, which disabled people fear will be far too similar to the much-criticised work capability assessment used to test eligibility for employment and support allowance (ESA)
- Respondents to the consultation repeatedly warned that the government’s plans could breach the Equality Act, the Human Rights Act and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
The report, based on data obtained through Freedom of Information requests, was written by Sue Marsh, author of the Diary of the Benefit Scrounger blog. It was researched and funded by thousands of sick and disabled people, who are about to be affected by the cuts to their benefits.
A contributor from the campaign group told Help Me Investigate:
“We have an army of over 600 volunteers to act as ‘constituency reps’. Each has the responsibility to contact their MP in their area with the report, so this will go very widely indeed. We are expecting a lot of press coverage.”
With only two days to go until the House of Lords votes on the bill, the group plans to campaign on Twitter as well and hope to get their hashtag #spartacusreport trending this morning.
Writing on the Guardian’s Comment is Free, Sue Marsh said:
“As evidence of the need for reform, the government has always claimed that DLA figures have risen by 30% in eight years. However, our analysis shows that this too is misleading – in fact the government has admitted that it gives a “distorted view”, yet continues to use the figure when pushing for reform.”
Channel 4 News reports on the “rocketing” numbers of appeals for employment and support allowance (ESA) being heard by the Tribunal Service, which have quadrupled in two years, “from 68,000 in 2009 to a projected 240,000 by the end of this financial year.” The cost to the taxpayer: “£80m and rising”.
“Channel 4 News contacted 30 advice centres across Britain and every single one said they had clients on their second or even third appeal. Jude Hawes is the welfare benefits manager at Stoke CAB.
“She says every day they’re dealing with clients appealing against ESA decisions, many of them for a second time. “I’ve worked in welfare benefits since 1983 and… we’ve never had one benefit one sort of appeal that just dominates the landscape like this.””
You can still catch the broadcast on Channel 4’s Watch Again service here.