Government’s spin war on disabled continues

The government keeps spinning against disabled people using the work and statistics of the discredited Atos organisation, reports Left Foot Forward’s Daniel Elton.

The Coalition’s efforts to hang out the disabled to dry are going splendidly. “The shirking classes: Just 1 in 14 incapacity claimants is unfit to work,” thunders the Daily Mail. “Sick benefits: 75% are faking,” slams the Express. The Telegraph similarly spins: “Only 7pc of sickness welfare claimants are signed off work.”

These headlines have been dutifully generated from ministerial annoucements. The DWP gives the hacks an inch, couching thier announcement in terms of how many people have been ‘found out’.

The press release begins:

“Work Programme provides tailored support as latest figures show people are being found fit for work.”

And then the newspapers take a mile, with articles slamming scroungers, topped off with a nice quotation from the TaxPayers’ Alliance:

“Sadly there are those who see being ‘on the sick’ as an easy option.”

The first thing to point out is that the articles confuse applicants ( to which these statistics refer) and pre-existing claimants ( that the newspapers seek to slam). Furthermore, Richard Exell over at the TUC has got down among the data, to show that the 75 per cent figure is pure spin.

He writes:

Let’s have a look at what today’s statistics actually show.

When people applying for EMA [Employment Support Allowance] were tested these were the results:

• 7% were placed in the Support Group (people who are expected to be on the benefit for a long time);

• 17% in the Work Related Activity Group (people who are expected to be able to work one day, but not now);

• 39% fit for work;

• 36% closed their claim before their assessment was complete.

In other words, the number found fit for work at the test is 39%. The same set of statistics show that 37% appeal and 39% of these appeals are successful – which brings the percentage found fit for work down to 33%.

Richard touches upon the Work Capability Assesment that decides which of the four categories you fit in with. This is carried out with a more profitable arm of David Cameron’s Big Society, IT company Atos. While four in ten appeals are successful, this figure is as high as 70 per cent in Scotland.

Atos is accused of carrying out the tests in a rushed, cursory and innappropriate manner, for example testing those for flexibility whose conditions mean thier joints dislocate easily, or can only sustain jobs for a few weeks at a time before breaking down.

Many Atos centres do not even have appropriate facilities to carry out the tests, and surveys indicate that the actions of the Atos regime have the effect of pushing the disabled towards suicide. Given that up to 95 per cent of disabled people think that ‘they will not be believed’ by Atos, it is no suprise that so many pull out of the tests.

Furthermore,  this drive occurs as the Access to Work (AtW) programme that supports disabled people in employment is shrinking, with 1,400 fewer individuals being assisted on the scheme in the last year, after the government restricted larger employers such as the Royal Mail from accessing the AtW.

The government is still depending on an Atos to carry out these tests, and to generate statistics that tabloids use to conjure headlines that browbeat the disabled. This is at a time when the disabled are facing mounting abuse and violence. As reported previously on Left Foot Forward, a recent survey for charity Scope  in the capital found that:

“Half of London respondents to the poll said they experienced discrimination on a daily or weekly basis. It also found that 63% of people with disabilities in London thought others did not believe they were disabled.”

It is time the government show some leadership, stand up to Atos, and stop pandering to the mob mentality of the the press.

100 Responses to “Government’s spin war on disabled continues”

  1. diana

    I wish there were Solictors out there willing to give their time to help the disabled in this awful state of affairs. This brings to mind the Nazi’s and their campaign to get rid of the sick, disabled and all those who did not fit into the ‘ideal’ aryan society. If the public fail to wake up we will see hate crime increase massively and the disabled further isolated living in fear. Cutting care, cutting benefits etc for the disabled isnt a mark of a civilised society. Its the mark of a society that has completely lost its way.

  2. Azurite

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government's spin war on disabled continues //t.co/s6wIwLM

  3. TheBiPolarBearMD

    Government's spin war on most vulnerable the disabled continues //t.co/Yy1lk9M

  4. Stuart White

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government's spin war on disabled continues //t.co/dir8TGd

  5. ChrisBracken

    If I may, an extra special dishonourable mention for the BBC for this piece: //www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14280849

    They also lead with the erroneous 7% figure, juiced up with a misleading headline complete with Sun-style weasel quote marks. The really significant story is, of course, the report of the Work and Pensions select committee, but their findings are carefully buried further down from the inflammatory lead. After the article’s first incarnation, the BBC later shoehorned in a quote from Brendan Barber, presumably in a ham-fisted attempt at balance – or at least the BBC conception of it. A terrible, terrible piece of journalism. What is most offensive is that the BBC is supposed to be a public service broadcaster, and plenty of disabled people fund it, but it now behaves more like the state broadcaster, to the people’s detriment.

  6. Kim Blake

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government's spin war on disabled continues //t.co/dir8TGd

  7. M

    Last night teletext said that out of 1.3M tested only 7% were able to work! Could it be the Express spinning the news again.
    No wonder its only 10p, its overpriced at that!

  8. TheBiPolarBearMD

    Government's spin war on disabled continues //t.co/Yy1lk9M

  9. Darren Rahaman

    Government’s spin war against disabled continues: //bit.ly/o3a8so writes @DanielElton #wca #atos #welfarereform

  10. Eddy Boyband

    This is labours legacy, they started this, they got atos involved.
    The current labour leader and all the shadow cabinet are the ones who are like nazi death camp guards, they knew what was going on but said nothing.

  11. Bluehook

    Please people, remember the word ‘people’, we are ‘disabled people’, not ‘the disabled’. We don’t say ‘the blacks’ do we? It’s bad enough when the detracting media use the term, worse almost when people who are sticking up for us/ themselves do so as it lets the detractors get away with it. We’re not another species, we’re people who just happen to have impairments. We call ourselves disabled people as long as society continues to put barriers in the way of us living normal lives in our communities. Much progress has been made in the last few decades, but now things are sliding backwards at a hell of a rate. The language that is used about us and by us does much to facilitate this process.

  12. Leon Wolfson

    And? This isn’t a Labour site, Eddy. It’s a liberal one.

    Very few of the left-wing posters (and most of the right-wing ones, for that matter) here believe that the current testing system works.

  13. Eddy Boyband

    So is my comment not valid ?
    The point I am making is that I never heard any left wing / liberal sites speaking up for people like me when this was going on under the last government.

  14. Sam Barnett-Cormack

    Eddy,

    The testing was brought in under Labour, and it was rightly criticised. What started with the current government is the press releases, private briefings and so forth that are steering discourse against sick and disabled people, benefit claimants, and most especially the overlap.

  15. chris star

    Government’s spin war on disabled continues…
    //j.mp/p8SA3p

  16. sam hamilton

    It doesn’t matter whether it’s Labour, Conservatives, Lib Dems or the Screaming Loony party – what is happening is morally and ethically wrong. It goes against all decent human behaviour and is on a par with the recent News Corp scandal. It must be publicised. The public must know the truth. It is time for a huge change where this is concerned and the governent must be called to account. Anyone who has an ounce of decency and courage must make a stand about this before it is too late and more people die, commit suicide or are abused. Disability hate crime is already on the increase and will only continue until the public are made aware of the corruption going on.

  17. Eddy Boyband

    Leon, Sam,
    So you agree with me, excellent.

  18. Paul McGlynn

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government's spin war on disabled continues //t.co/ctsfK9g

  19. The three things Cameron should know about sickness and disability benefits | Left Foot Forward

    […] press stories on Employment Support Allowance (ESA) show that politicians and the media are stuck in a mid-1990s […]

  20. DiscriminatedinW2

    RT@leftfootfwd Government's spin war on disabled continues //t.co/qdy3kUY Im sure this has already been tweeted but I missed it anyway

  21. Mr Danger

    “This brings to mind the Nazi’s and their campaign to get rid of the sick, disabled and all those who did not fit into the ‘ideal’ aryan society.”

    No it doesn’t. I’m not sure if you’re clear what happened during the Nazi era, but it didn’t involve cutting benefits for the disabled.

    A third of applications are bogus, and another third are withdrawn before they can be evaluated. Are we supposed to be relieved that only two thirds of applicants are trying to scam the system?

  22. Andrew Dodgshon

    Truly shocking RT @leftfootfwd: Government's spin war on disabled continues //t.co/InEzyB3

  23. eirlys dafydd

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government's spin war on disabled continues //t.co/aO9ur5G

  24. VirtualResistance

    //bit.ly/nM5DWg Government’s spin war on disabled continues

  25. Caer

    RT @VirtualResistan //t.co/l5VqIOc Government’s spin war on disabled continues

  26. Rocky Hamster

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government's spin war on disabled continues //t.co/iSBY6cS absolutely disgusting

  27. J P

    RT @VirtualResistan: //bit.ly/nM5DWg Government’s spin war on disabled continues

  28. Paul Gleeson

    Government’s spin war against disabled continues | Left Foot Forward: //t.co/P0Zh59V via @addthis

  29. Where's the Benefit?

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government’s spin war against disabled continues: //bit.ly/o3a8so writes @DanielElton #wca #atos #welfarereform

  30. ACT NOW for Autism

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government’s spin war against disabled continues: //bit.ly/o3a8so writes @DanielElton #wca #atos #welfarereform

  31. vicky ayech

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government's spin war on disabled continues //t.co/eWHrJTZ

  32. Tom Underwood

    Interesting article about relationship between the press, government and outsourcing companies – RT @leftfootfwd: //t.co/h9ZprsU

  33. Mason Dixon, Autistic

    How do people like you sleep at night Mr Danger knowing in your heart that such tripe is spin and bollocks?

  34. Tyler McGee

    Government’s spin war against disabled continues: //bit.ly/o3a8so writes @DanielElton #wca #atos #welfarereform

  35. Leon Wolfson

    @8 – I’d suggest you were not looking hard enough then, an awful lot of us have been down on the new test since it’s introduction.

  36. hindle-a

    Arec-please do not over concern yourself with the Mr.Dangers of this world.In my experience their ignorance and misanthropy is largely immune from the inconveniences of actual fact.I realise it is frustrating that too many people exhibit this trait.Please continue to provide information as it is valuable but not to the degree of physical/mental exhaustion.Look after yourself.Regards

  37. Paul Rooke

    Government’s spin war against disabled continues | Left Foot Forward //bit.ly/qAu27W via Daniel Elton #SOLIDARITYblogged #DLA

  38. Karl

    : the facts behind the headlines attacking benefit claimants //t.co/w709ryK please RT

  39. DavidG

    “I’m not sure if you’re clear what happened during the Nazi era, but it didn’t involve cutting benefits for the disabled.”

    How clear are you? Because while the Nazis may not have indulged in slashing benefits, they did have a clear policy of government sponsored demonization of disabled people, which is exactly what is happening to us on a daily basis.

    “A third of applications are bogus, and another third are withdrawn before they can be evaluated. Are we supposed to be relieved that only two thirds of applicants are trying to scam the system?”

    A third bogus, you say, but what does the Select Committee on Work and Pensions say? “It should be borne in mind that, although a claimant may be found “fully fit for work” and moved on to JSA, they may still have scored 12 points in the WCA and have a health condition which continues to have a significant impact on them. In this respect, they will not be very different from someone who scored 15 points and was found to have a limited capability for work.”

    As for the other third, the third who withdraw, trying to scam the system you say again, and yet I was probably part of those statistics for a while, after the complete disaster of my first WCA left me unable to even think about ESA without my pain levels going through the roof. It took months before I was able to pursue my claim, not helped by ATOS outright lying to DWP – them cancelling the WCA with me standing in the doorway because they had failed to provide the needed seating is not the same as me failing to attend! When I was finally able to pursue my claim I got straight through the WCA (no thanks to the ATOS quack), but the reality is that many disabled people with fully valid claims will have been intimidated into not proceeding by ATOS’s maladministration, while many others will have started claims, but subsequently found themselves a job they can do no matter their disability, or recovered or whatever. If you know how the system is designed to work, then the number of withdrawn claims is not a sign of fraud, but of the system working as intended (of course this is a problem in itself).

  40. Janine Harris

    RT @leftfootfwd: Government's spin war on disabled continues //t.co/wlEsgKL

  41. Sean McGovern

    “The testing was brought in under Labour, and it was rightly criticised. What started with the current government is the press releases, private briefings and so forth that are steering discourse against sick and disabled people, benefit claimants, and most especially the overlap.
    Comment by Sam Barnett-Cormack on July 27, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    The discourse against disabled people isn’t a recent occurrence and absolving Labour from any criticism in this area is plain wrong. Back in 1998 I complained to Alastair Darling about the negative TV, but more widely spread, print media condemnation of disabled people in receipt of DLA.

    The Benefits Integrity Project had been set up in the final months of the Tory regime and heralded as some kind of disability benefits fraud buster. At the cost of scores of millions the BIP managed, in a little over a year, to take some 2,000 people off DLA. However, more interestingly of the 55,000 cases investigated it managed to unearth a massive 55 incidents of possible fraud – basically saying that 0.001% of people on DLA may have been claiming fraudulently.

    Needless to say the BIP was scrapped.

    Darling responded to me with a non-committal excuse about being unable to interfere with the freedom of the press get-out – Chris Grayling gave a similar defence in Sunday’s Observer stating:

    “I do not control the editorial approach of the tabloids, and sometimes stories run in ways that completely bemuse me and are certainly beyond any expectations.”

    Nobody is asking these politicians to interfere with the editorial integrity of the press. What we do expect of our elected politicians is honesty. We don’t expect them to use the press as a weapon against, what are for the most part, a group of lawful citizens whose only ‘wrongdoing’ is their inability to surmount physical, mental, social, and educational barriers largely constructed and maintained by government itself.

  42. Mr Danger

    “How clear are you? Because while the Nazis may not have indulged in slashing benefits, they did have a clear policy of government sponsored demonization of disabled people, which is exactly what is happening to us on a daily basis.”

    Government sponsored demonization of the disabled is exactly what is happening on a daily basis is it? No, it isn’t. Are you telling me that if you met a holocaust survivor you could share your experiences, he or she telling you about concentration camps and you telling them about your daily demonisation in the UK under the coalition government? Come on. The Nazis euthanised the disabled, they didn’t pay them benefits.

    “but subsequently found themselves a job they can do no matter their disability”

    Sorry, the fact that they turn out to be capable of working “or whatever” proves their claim was valid how exactly?

  43. David Cameron is stuck in a timewarp on disability benefits | Declan Gaffney | A3RN.com

    […] week's press stories on practice support stipend (ESA) uncover that politicians and a media are stranded in a mid-1990s […]

  44. Kate

    @ Sean McGovern
    You said that the Benefit Integrity Project had been scrapped, but there’s a Benefit Integrity Centre still alive & kicking because I got a letter from them a few days ago. I’ve been told different things, that it’s a scam or that it’s just routine. I hope you’re wrong when you say they are investigating fraud because that implies they think I’m fraudulent and that is a horrible scary thing.

  45. a4e highpark1

    SICK BENEFITS: 75% ARE FAKING //goo.gl/odjiL

  46. Sean McGovern

    In answer to Kate. The BIP was terminated on 31 March 1999. It was replaced it with a periodic inquiry process into disability living allowance awards.

    //www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=1999-07-05a.632.2

  47. London IWW

    #ConDem Government’s spin war against #disabled continues | //ow.ly/5PU4V

  48. Larry

    //t.co/BH42QlO It's a sickness that benefits no one. Lies and statistics..

  49. curly pumpkin

    MANY currently on INCAPACITY BEN. will not qualify for any monies if put on JOB SEEKERS as this benefit is a means tested benefit an I.B. is a non means tested benefit…thereby saving millions of £££’s for the D.W.P.

  50. Ruairi Easmainn

    Government’s spin war against disabled continues: //bit.ly/o3a8so writes @DanielElton #wca #atos #welfarereform

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