IDS’s continuing spin war against people with disabilities: part 47

The Secretary of State for Work and Pensions continues to use misleading figures on the growth of disability benefit claims to underpin his case for reform.

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Iain Duncan Smith has yet again ‘misspoken’ on disability benefits, inflating the scale of those who claim welfare assistance. Speaking to the Daily Telegraph today, he repeated the misleading claim that the disability benefit bill has increased by 30% over recent years.

He said:

We are creating a new benefit, because the last benefit grew by something like 30% in the past few years. It’s been rising well ahead of any other gauge you might make about illness, sickness, disability or for that matter general trends in society.

A lot of that is down to the way the benefit was structured so that it was very loosely defined. Second thing was that in the assessment, lots of people weren’t actually seen. Third problem was lifetime awards. Something like 70% had lifetime awards, [which] meant that once they got it…they were just allowed to fester.”

As Left Foot Forward showed over a year ago, in failing to correct the data so as to factor in the ‘maturing’ of DLA claims – the built-in growth in DLA receipt amongst people over retirement age – the 30% figure significantly exaggerates the increase in the benefit bill over the past eight years. The true increase, further corrected for demographic change, is 16%.


See also:

How DWP’s incompetence cost taxpayers and disabled people 16 Apr 2012

It wos the Sun wot couldn’t do maths: Prioritising benefit fraud when tax fraud is 10x worse 29 Feb 2012

The government’s replacement for DLA is not fit for purpose 18 Jan 2012

Will the government take away money from disabled people on a hunch? 17 Jan 2012

As Lords debates DLA reforms, charities call for pause to welfare reform bill 17 Jan 2012


Several months later, in August – by which point the Welfare Reform Bill had passed the report stage in the Commons – the DWP conceded that their previous analysis ‘distorted the overall picture of growth’ in numbers of DLA claimants. Even so, Duncan Smith continues to cite the 30% figure, the cornerstorne of the DWP’s case for aggressive, sweeping reforms of disability benefit.


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