DWP taken to task over ambiguous figures
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government and also in Communities
Iain Duncan Smith to launch assault on 'deeply ineffective' welfare and benefits system
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been caught out by the official statistics watchdog for repeatedly making ambiguous claims about the numbers of people living on disability benefits.
Departmental ministers continually stated that the majority of people on disability living allowance (DLA) were given benefits for life without any supporting medical evidence.
The DWP's official press releases claimed that "more than 50% of decisions on entitlement are made on the basis of the claim form alone, without any additional corroborating medical evidence."
But the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) investigated and discovered that the real figure for claims passed without supporting medical evidence was actually 10%.
The DWP, which is run by Iain Duncan Smith, also claimed that up to 71% of claimants get "indefinite awards without systematic reassessments" under the current system of DLA.
But, once again, the UKSA discovered that this was untrue and that in the last two years of the DLA only 23% and 24% of claimants were given indefinite awards.
The department has admitted that its claims have been "ambiguous" and "had not been rechecked by the department's analysts as is the usual practice".
Parkinson's UK policy advisor Donna O'Brien said: "The Department of Work and Pensions has a long track record of misusing statistics when it comes to the benefits system, and it’s clear this was a tactic to vindicate further welfare cuts.
"People with Parkinson's who claimed DLA have told us supporting medical evidence was crucial due to a woeful knowledge of the condition amongst assessors, and it is absurd that the Government was trying to imply that anyone going through the system had an easy ride."
A DWP spokesman said: "Since May 2010 the DWP has led the way in openness and transparency of statistical releases by publishing over 770 releases and datasets. Great care is taken to get things right, and in this time the UKSA has only written direct to DWP Ministers on two occasions about issues raised with it on DWP statistics. DWP has responded to these points and taken on board UKSA's suggestions.
"DWP Statistical releases are produced and published separately to and independently from other Departmental comment or publications. Great care is taken by DWP statisticians to ensure the Statistical releases are easy to read and understand, and are balanced and impartial."