An open letter to Esther McVey MP
Dear Esther McVey MP
We the undersigned have been shocked and appalled at you and your Minister’s persistent use of dubious facts and statistics regarding DLA. We ask that you make use of the raft of factual statistics and desist from twisting evidence; your misrepresentation presumes some sort of illegal activity regarding DLA claimants, this is particularly disturbing when the DWP’s own figures for fraud of DLA is 0.5%.
Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and a former chief economist at the DWP, said ‘it was part of a “consistent pattern” which threatened to undermine public confidence in official statistics…”I think it is very unfortunate. These statistics are very important. Government analysts, economists and statisticians work very hard to produce them and they provide important information to the public,”…”It is very important that ministers should not seek to misrepresent what those stats actually do or don’t show. That detracts from the public’s faith in the analysis produced by government statisticians. ”This is, I am afraid, a consistent pattern of trying to draw out of the statistics things which they simply don’t show.”’
Your persistence that DLA requires few face-to-face medicals and little or no additional medical evidence to obtain DLA, is untrue. The government’s own figures show that just 16% of awards relied on the form only and a mere 9% of DLA funding was spent on this basis
Your claims that DLA is awarded without a medical; is simply not true, many claimants have to undergo a face to face medical assessment, as part of their application as the DWP website shows: Medical assessments You might get a letter saying you need to attend an assessment to check your eligibility. Further the DWP statistics report of November 2011 also clearly demonstrates Medical Examinations did form part of the assessment process for claims. http://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd1/adhoc_analysis/2011/dla_evidence_award_values_nov11.pdfTable 2:
Savi Hensman’s blog in Ekklesia also disproves your claims – Government minister Esther McVey’s untrue claims about Disability Living Allowance
‘Disability Living Allowance is an “outdated benefit” for which “around 50 per cent of decisions are made on the basis of the claim form alone – without any additional corroborating medical evidence,” stated UK minister for disabled people Esther McVey on the BBC and elsewhere this morning (8 April 2013).
This is completely untrue – the government’s own figures show that just 16 per cent of awards relied on the form only and a mere nine per cent of DLA funding was spent on this basis. McVey was trying to justify the controversial replacement of DLA by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from today, to be paid to fewer people.’
The latest figure you used in you BBC interview that of 50% of claimants not presenting any additional medical evidence, may in fact be due to medical evidence being sought directly, via the consent form on page 7 of the DLA form, which gives the DWP permission to contact the claimants GP and other medical professionals directly for further information.
You also state that 71% would “stay on it for life” without further assessments, but there have been no lifetime awards for sometime now, therefore your statement made on the BBC on the 8th of April 2013 is misleading. The new term ‘Indefinite Award’ requires claimants to undergo reassessment at any time at the whim of the DWP is it therefore the fault of the claimant if the DWP fail to exercise that right? However, they announced a few months ago that they would not be testing those with indefinite claims at all until after the next election. Indefinite awards make up nearly 70% of all DLA awards and the government claim over and over that it is this group who have been “left to languish” yet they’ve decided to do nothing about it at all.
‘She also referred to the claim that, under DLA, 71 per cent of people get support for life without checks. This, again, is misleading. The figure refers to ‘indefinite’ awards, which means that their period may vary according to needs. Recall is possible if circumstances change. This is appropriate. There are many people who have permanent and unalterable disabilities. Moreover, while benefit may be awarded for a non-fixed period, that does not mean it is necessarily ‘for life’. The total number who still get DLA excludes those who have had it on fixed awards and now no longer get it.’
In the press you have continued to indicate the reason for the change from DLA to PIP is the rapidly accelerating growth of DLA claimants up by some 35% in the last ten years, from 1.1million to 3.3million, a figure we do not contest. However we would like to examine the context of the 35%; the reform of DLA is only affecting working age claimants, with children and Pensioners being exempt from the changes (for now). Given this, when analysis of the increase in claimants in undertaken discounting those exempt, you get a significantly different figure of 13%. Why then are you insistent on using the wholly inaccurate 35% figure if not only to make your claim seem more urgent?
Sue Marsh co author of the Responsible Reform Report states:“…the government have constantly misled the public over the new benefit, claiming a 35% rise when Spartacus Report showed clearly that the rise is only 13% for the working age group who will be affected. Physical conditions have remained totally stable, whilst the 13% rise is almost all due to a rise in mental health conditions and learning disabilities, a trend seen worldwide, not just in the UK.”
Sue Marsh Diary of a Benefits Scrounger.
Or if you prefer Disability News Service
“DWP released a “statistical update”, which it said showed the number of successful claimants of DLA had risen by 15,000 between February and May 2012.
But analysis of DWP figures by Disability News Service (DNS) has shown that the rise in claimants is due to increases in the number of children and older people receiving DLA, while the number of claimants aged 16-64 actually fell by more than 1,600. This is important because the reforms and cuts will only affect working-age claimants…”
Disability News Service
“To quote the DWP 2013 report Fulfilling Potential: Building a deeper understanding of disability in the UK today, “There are 11.5 million people in the UK who are covered by the disability provisions set out in the Equality Act… six per cent (0.8 million) of children, 15 per cent (5.4 million) of adults of working age and nearly half (45 per cent, 5.3 million) of adults over State Pension age are covered… Only around half (six million) of the 11.5 million people covered by the disability provision in the Equality Act are in receipt of disability-related benefits.”
Anne McGuire, Labour’s shadow minister for disabled people, said it was “yet another example of the DWP manipulating the figures on DLA to suit their agenda of abolishing DLA”.
This brings us to another disturbing trend of recent weeks, statements being made by yourself and MR ID Smith MP which strongly suggest people are rushing to claim DLA in order to avoid the new harsher PIP assessment criteria…
“We’ve seen a rise in the run-up to PIP. And you know why? They know PIP has a health check. They want to get in early, get ahead of it. It’s a case of ‘get your claim in early’.”
And you yourself have similarly claimed…
“The Mail on Sunday this week reported that McVey believed coalition plans to abolish working-age DLA had led to a huge increase in applications by people desperate to claim the benefit before it was replaced by the new personal independence payment (PIP), which will come with a tougher assessment.
The Mail on Sunday article – based on an interview with McVey – stated: “The decision to introduce new tests has produced an extraordinary ‘closing-down sale’ effect, with rocketing claims as people rush to get their hands on unchecked ‘welfare for life’ before McVey’s axe falls on April 8.”
A spokeswoman for McVey told Disability News Service (DNS) that, although she did not use the phrases “closing-down sale” or “welfare for life”, “everything in the article was a fair representation” of the interview.”
We have a number of issues with these statements not least of which, the inescapable fact that no one can escape the changeover to PIP; every single DLA claimant, whether they have been on it for years or for five days will have to reapply for PIP in the next few years, therefore no one will be able to ‘get ahead’ of it and any ‘last minute’ claim for DLA would simply delay the inevitable. Ergo the suggestions in your statements that recent claims are an attempt to escape PIP appear convoluted . Our assertion is further supported by , Declan Gaffney Tue, 04/09/2013 in his article Did claims for DLA increase in the run-up to PIP? analysed statistics produced at https://www.nomisweb.co.uk/ which appear to refute these statements.
He States: “I presume Mr Duncan Smith has some basis for this claim, but it’s not supported by the published data on DLA. The changes only affect people of working age, so I’ve charted the number of claims by people age 16-64 with a duration of three months or less, using the data available on Nomis. A sudden increase in people claiming should show up in these figures: I don’t see it. On the contrary, the latest figures are the lowest on record.”
Given our concerns outlined above we request that you officially retract your recent comments with regard to DLA and PIP and issue a fairer balanced statement, based upon accurate data and one which maintains the integrity of Ministers in Government. We request you include the facts that PIP only applies to working age DLA claimants; that there has been only an average increase in overall working age claimants, and there has been no significant rush to apply for DLA .
If you agree with the above and want to add you name to the latter please follow the link below and SIGN https://docs.google.com/document/d/1n2QVXOKKSfkn9dwXOvmQ74Vzbhyx7HXEbid8EpEb674/edit?usp=sharing
This letter will close for signatures at midnight 21/04/13
Co Author – Debbie Sayers – Ramblings of a Fibro Fogged Mind ramblingsofafibrofoggedmind.wordpress.com
Courtesy of Jayne Linney