DWP 'leads the way in openness and transparency'
Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Central Government
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The Department for Work and Pensions is a pioneer of truthfulness regarding statistics, one of its spokespersons has said.
The department was taken to task this week by the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) which accused it of repeatedly making ambiguous claims about the numbers of people living on disability benefits.
DWP ministers had 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 an investigation by the UKSA discovered that the real figure for claims passed without supporting medical evidence was actually 10%.
The DWP also claimed that up to 71% of claimants get "indefinite awards without systematic reassessments" under the current system of DLA.
However, the UKSA found that this claim was also untrue and that in the last two years of the DLA only 23% and 24% of claimants were given indefinite awards.
The department admitted that its claims have been "ambiguous" and "had not been rechecked by the department's analysts as is the usual practice".
However, a DWP spokesman has now claimed that since the coalition came to power the department has "led the way in openness and transparency of statistical releases" by publishing over 770 releases and datasets.
According to the spokesman, the DWP takes "great care...to get things right".
The spokesman added that since 2010 the UKSA has only written directly to DWP ministers on two occasions about issues raised with it on statistics.
The spokesman said: "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."