A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants?

On Friday, Left Foot Forward published a guide to faking up a benefits story in five easy steps using publicly available data; somebody followed the steps almost to the letter in concocting a story in today’s Sun.

On Friday, Left Foot Forward published a guide to faking up a Daily Mail benefits story in five easy steps using publicly available data. Of course, the technique of briefing misleading welfare stories to the press can be applied to all the right-wing papers, not just the Mail.

Somebody followed the steps almost to the letter in concocting this story in today’s Sun.

But even by the standards of right-wing tabloids, the story hits a new low in callous disregard for people with learning difficulties and mental health problems.

The headline is:

‘Labour doubled kids on the sick’

A misleading conflation of Disability Living Allowance, which is not an out-of-work benefit, with Incapacity Benefit/Employment Support Allowance: less than half of young DLA claimants receive IB or ESA.

The story continues:

“The number of young people claiming disability benefits more than DOUBLED under Labour, official figures show.

“A staggering 142,000 18-24-year-olds pocket the Disability Living Allowance – compared to 61,000 when Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997.”

There is little need for comment on this story.

At the foot of this article is a table showing the DLA caseload as of May 2010 for people age 18-24 by the main disabling condition on which their award is based. It is taken from the same data source as was used to generate the figures quoted by the Sun, which are not new.

It also shows the growth in the caseload over the period May 1997 to May 2010. Just under a third of the growth is accounted for by young people with learning difficulties, just over a third by people with mental health problems (and because these are DLA awards, the problems will be on the severe end of the spectrum).

So these two categories account for two thirds of the growth referred to by the Sun.

This growth in caseload is adequately explained by increased awareness of the availability of DLA for children and young people with these conditions. Nonetheless the Sun quotes an unnamed DWP source as saying:

“The benefit is meant to be for people who have severe problems walking or looking after themselves because of a disability.

“But with such a big increase in young people claiming DLA, we have to be sure it’s getting to those who really need it.”

This is not comment, it is innuendo – the caseload has increased, therefore the benefit isn’t ‘going to those who really need it’, those ‘with severe problems’. The table below should allow readers to judge for themselves whether the disabling conditions for which young people have been awarded DLA represent ‘severe’ problems.


Disability Living Allowance caseload, people aged 18-24

 

May 2010 (000s)

Change 1997-2010 (000s)

% of total change

Total

141.8

80.6

100
Arthritis 1.4 -0.4 -0.5
Muscle/joint/bone disease 8.2 1.2 1.5
Blindness 3.7 1.3 1.6
Stroke related 1.1 -0.9 -1.1
Learning difficulty 49.6 26.4 32.8
Mental health causes 34.9 27.3 33.9
Epilepsy 6.3 2.5 3.1
Deafness 4.1 3.2 4.0
Malignant disease 1.3 0.6 0.7
Chest disease *0.3    
Back ailments 0.7 -0.3 -0.4
Heart disease 0.8    
Parkinson’s disease    
Diabetes mellitus 2.4 1.9 2.4
Renal disorders *0.4    
AIDS *0.1    
Skin disease 0.6    
Frailty    
Multiple sclerosis *0.5    
Other 25.4 16.7 20.7

There is a line between selective presentation of data which makes the case for a particular policy, which is legitimate, and suppressing details in order to encourage gross misinterpretation of the evidence, which isn’t. Today’s Sun story is on the wrong side of that line.

35 Responses to “A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants?”

  1. Malcolm Evison

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  2. Kelvin John Edge

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/ifZBVH by Declan Gaffney

  3. Eoin Clarke

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/ifZBVH by Declan Gaffney

  4. lewsosnhs

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/ifZBVH by Declan Gaffney

  5. D.Mentiply

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF by Declan Gaffney

  6. RNIB Campaigns

    RT @davidmentiply: RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF by Declan Gaffney

  7. BendyGirl

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  8. polly kelly

    RT @BendyGirl: RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  9. Nell Epona Bridges

    RT @BendyGirl: RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  10. sean gittins

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/ifZBVH by Declan Gaffney

  11. Kelvin John Edge

    RT @BendyGirl: RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  12. Chris Hypnodisc

    RT @BendyGirl: RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  13. Phil

    hmm, another failure by the DWP and/ or its Ministers.
    It’s curious how the DWP seems incompetent whenever required to handle and present statistical data.
    There seems to be a lack of intellectual ability to understand and interpret statistical data, coupled with a lack of political will to present the complicated truth rather than a convenient simplistic fallacy (it could be an ‘either .. or’, but I suspect it’s both together).

  14. Mary Hamilton

    Sun misleads on disabled benefit claimants //bit.ly/eX89NF

  15. Gracetalking

    RT @newsmary: Sun misleads on disabled benefit claimants //bit.ly/eX89NF

  16. Mr. Sensible

    Why should we expect anything less?

  17. BendyGirl

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  18. Angela

    RT @BendyGirl: RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  19. Julian Yon

    RT @BendyGirl: RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  20. apptme2theboard

    RT @BendyGirl: RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  21. Sol Smith

    RT @BendyGirl: RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  22. Press Not Sorry

    RT @newsmary: Sun misleads on disabled benefit claimants //bit.ly/eX89NF

  23. margojmilne

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  24. Eve Marshall

    RT @MargoJMilne: RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/eX89NF

  25. Daniel Pitt

    A new low in DWP war on disabled benefit claimants //bit.ly/ifZBVH #ConDemNation

  26. Broken OfBritain

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/ifZBVH by Declan Gaffney

  27. Jason Tipple

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/ifZBVH by Declan Gaffney

  28. Nick H.

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/ifZBVH by Declan Gaffney

  29. Steve Sumpter

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/ifZBVH by Declan Gaffney

  30. Caer

    A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/fBZFNQ via @BrokenOfBritain

  31. Double.Karma

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/ifZBVH by Declan Gaffney

  32. Tim Blackwell

    RT @leftfootfwd: A new low in DWP’s war on disabled benefit claimants? //bit.ly/ifZBVH by Declan Gaffney

  33. Does the Government know what they’re doing on benefits and disabled children? « Campaigning for deaf children

    […] for a confession – I’m what the tabloid newspapers would call a benefits scrounger. Yes, I receive Disability Living Allowance (DLA). Been receiving it […]

  34. Ian N

    As well as dodgy use of stats, I’m also concerned that DWP seem to be intent on abolishing key benefits for disabled children without saying what’s going to replace it. Are disabled children being treated as an afterthought?

    //iannoon.wordpress.com/2011/03/06/does-the-government-know-what-theyre-doing-on-benefits-and-disabled-children/

  35. Right wing press need to check facts before screaming at disabled | Left Foot Forward

    […] of reporting is not only lazy, but it could be dangerous. Sadly, all the while the DWP are happy to twist the figures themselves; I can’t imagine things will improve. Share | Permalink | Comments: 9 […]

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