Skip to main content

Why Mr Duncan-Smith's figures on incapacity benefits don't stack up.


Mr Duncan-Smith has been making a mess of his statistics, with all sorts of ludicrous claims such as working tax credit rising by 58% between 2003 and 2005 when in fact it increased in line with inflation so that over the two years it increased by 8%. It brings into question the  accuracy of other figures used by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). 

One such figure is the estimate of the numbers receiving incapacity benefit who should not really be eligible. Those IDS considers to be receiving benefit but who should not be. There are 2.6 million people of working age claiming incapacity benefit, 8.5% of the total adult workforce, at an annual cost of £12.5 billion. The stakes are high. The DWP estimate that 30 % of these claimants are not genuinely eligible which if correct would give a potential saving of £2.24 billion annually. But where does the estimate come from?


The estimate comes from two pilot projects in Aberdeen and Burnley which showed that of 1347 decisions made, 399 (29.6%) were found 'fit for work'. Mr Duncan-Smith has made a great deal of this estimate, but how robust is it? The answer is probably not very accurate at all.  A simple calculation shows us why. 


We know that some 40% of assessments that go to appeal are being reversed.  This brings into question the DWP's estimate of 30% from their pilot projects.  If we assume that a similar percentage would be reversed on appeal, then this would reduce substantially the estimate of the numbers ineligible for benefit. My calculation from the figures given by the DWP is that the estimate at best falls to 18%.  But it also brings into question the way in which the assessments are being made and also the criteria used. It is clear something is awry with the assessments if such a high percentage are being overturned on appeal. 


In short, the system being imposed is discredited. It is discredited on the numbers and it is discredited by the yardsticks of fairness, competency and ethics. Many of the decisions appear to be cruel and arbitrary and take little account of the real circumstances of the claimant. Mr Duncan-Smith would have a better case if he used better estimates and if he had a system that would be transparently fair. But he does not.


Postscript

The Anonymouse in his comment below correctly points out that the figure of 48% reversal on appeal changes to 78% or higher if appeals are made through the CAB.  Using that percentage my calculation blasts the DWP estimates completely out of the ball park. 



Comments

  1. Actually if you look at the real figures, that 40% who win appeals are the ones who do it themselves, If they have a CAB adviser to help that rises to 78% win appeals

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for this. This is correct. I noticed one CAB with 90% success on appeal. If we used these figures then it simply blasts IDS case out of the window. I will add a postscript.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

Prioritising people in nursing care.

There has been in recent years concern that care in the NHS has not been sufficiently 'patient centred', or responsive to the needs of the patient on a case basis. It has been felt in care that it as been the patient who has had to adapt to the regime of care, rather than the other way around. Putting patients at the centre of care means being responsive to their needs and supporting them through the process of health care delivery.  Patients should not become identikit sausages in a production line. The nurses body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has responded to this challenge with a revised code of practice reflection get changes in health and social care since the previous code was published in 2008. The Code describes the professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives. Four themes describe what nurses and midwives are expected to do: prioritise people practise effectively preserve safety, and promote professionalism and trust. The

When Finance Drives Destruction

Tackling climate change means stopping the funding of rainforest destruction, says a significant study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund.  The UK's financial services have provided directly over £8.7 billion to 167 different traders, processors, and buyers of forest-risk commodities (cocoa, rubber, timber, soy, beef, palm oil, pulp & paper) from 2013 to 2021.   With direct and indirect investment,  the figure rises to a staggering £200 bn.  Whilst not all that investment is in destructive projects,  the study concludes there is little transparency on the risk.  Finance is the oil in the economic machine.  But it also drives decisions. We all know the importance of money. We borrow to invest. So much depends on it, such as company pensions.  Do we really know what our pension pots are doing? We invest for the future. But what kind of future? Is all investment good?  Much investment is bad. Investment drives the nature of our economy. It drives our decisions as individuals,