Tag Archives: employment and support allowance

Benefit sanctions data to be released for first time on DWP stats site

dwp stat_explore

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

Factcheck: 900,000 dropped benefit claims “rather than complete assessment”?

ESA: Work Capability Assessments
ESA: Work Capability Assessments – total vs dropped

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”?

Why doesn’t the DWP collect data on the accuracy of decision making?

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?

Data: the “shambles” of Employment and Support Allowance appeals

Over on his Social Policy blog, Paul Spicker has a brief dissection of the most recent statistical release (January) for the review of Employment and Support Allowance:

“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.”

Link: The ESA ‘Fit For Work’ vicious circle

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.