Duncan Smith department promoting ‘negative perceptions’ of benefit claimants

A group of MPs has slammed the government for using official statistics inaccurately to spin stories about benefit claimants.

The length of time disabled people are having to wait to find out if they are eligible for benefits is unacceptable, an influential group of MPs has said.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has also been accused of using official statistics to promote negative perceptions and prejudices about benefit recipients.

The new report by the Work and Pensions Committee found that some Personal Independence Payments (PIP), a disability benefit that replaces the Disability Living Allowance, were taking six months or more to process.

The report by the MPs also warned the DWP to be more careful in the language it used in its press releases and ministerial comments to ensure they were not promoting “negative preconceptions and prejudices about people on benefits”.

The committee criticised the use of statistics in the past by the secretary of state Iain Duncan Smith and Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps. In one example cited by the committee, a Conservative party press release which quoted Grant Shapps referred to DWP figures which purported to show nearly a million people had dropped their incapacity benefit claim rather than face a work capability test. It was subsequently discovered that two sets of figures had been misleadingly conflated.

IDS was also reprimanded for claiming that the threat of the benefit cap had persuaded 8,000 of claimants to get a job. The UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) ruled that there was no statistical evidence to support this claim.

Committee chair Dame Anne Begg MP warned the DWP against using statistics to “prop up established views or feed preconceptions”. She also criticised the government for causing unnecessary stress to disabled claimants.

“Many disabled or sick people face waits of 6 months or more for a decision on their PIP eligibility. Even those with terminal illnesses are having to wait far longer than was anticipated. This not only leaves people facing financial difficulties whilst they await a decision, but causes severe stress and uncertainty. It is completely unacceptable,” she said.

Commenting on the report, Public and Commercial Services union general secretary Mark Serwotka said the long delays faced by disabled and sick people were “completely unacceptable”.

He added that the “misuse of statistics about our social security system is one of the biggest scandals of recent years and has fuelled the sickening vilification of people who rely on benefits”.

Like this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.

9 Responses to “Duncan Smith department promoting ‘negative perceptions’ of benefit claimants”

  1. SonOfTheIsles

    You lefties need to start facing up to life without cake. Youcan’t have it and eat it.

    The free handouts must stop. If we don’t like giving free money to immigrants then we need to show by example. No more child benefit. Anyone who can afford to pay NHS bills should pay. No winter fuel allowance for those who can afford it. No free bus for pensioners who can afford to pay. The overwhelming majority of us in the UK are in the top 2% of world incomes. You don’t know what real poverty is.

    The welfare system is broken. It is a black hole sucking the economy dry. Tax payers and welfare recipients must balance each other. If that means putting the pension age up to 70+ because of life expectancy increases then so be it.

    The LibLabCon-trick is bankrupt of ideas. All they do is chant the mantra of unlimited growth. It is a physical impossibility and proves that economics is not a science.

    Each successive wave of immigration is here to do ALL jobs more cheaply than the last. There will never be a reduction in immigration. All parties know that and have no solution to it. This will continue until civil war sweeps through Europe. Don’t think for one moment that the ‘Arab spring’ won’t travel north, eventually.

    We don’t need and can’t afford ‘big government’. It needs to be pared back to the minimum. Reduce the civil service. Government needs to get out of our faces. It is less relevant the more the Internet expands into our lives.

    Yes, I want the corruption and fixing of markets to end in The City but just saying that rich people aren’t paying their way is daft. They pay the higher rate of tax and they pay more of it because they earn more. Close the tax dodging loopholes for the wealthy and their businesses. But any savings are just a pin prick that will be sucked into the welfare state black hole.

    I have lived in countries with no welfare system. Where children live in their 20s and 30s with their parents. Where everyday is a day of austerity. If you lefties want everyone in the world to have the same standard of living then I am afraid it is not a case of the world’s poor being lifted up to our level but of our level dropping considerably so that everyone can have the same.

    If you think the world’s economy is going to multiply 10 times to allow aspirant Chinese and Indian people to live like us then you are deluded.

  2. I James

    You sad spiteful deluded individual, What F’ing handouts, if the pot is empty its because its been looted .I like many of the disabled worked for many many years, paying into a scheme designed to provide cover in times of need. Only now is it abundantly clear that the scheme was one massive ponzi scam. The scheme? National Insurance of course. As usual the poor paid in a bigger percentage of their income to fund this scheme, only to find when they need to make a claim, they are accused of all the ills of the world by vile lying (CV and educational achievements)), expense fiddling(betsygate and underwear) bullying (staff and civil servants) hypocritical (Lives rent free in mansion with spare bedrooms) failure (as party leader and as an army officer, made himself unemployed by leaving he service) like Iain Drunken Smith. Sorry mate, I’m entitled to what I get, and I think I’m entitled to more. I will if I want, smoke, drink, have a holiday, socialise and spend my days doing just as I please. I’M ENTITLED and as for the rich nobody ever made a fortune without exploiting and profiting from the labour of the poor.

  3. SonOfTheIsles

    Then enjoy your entitlements whilst you can.

  4. I James

    I will and do, but I want more. Trouble is its been robbed to fund dubious schemes etc. and if you must know.. there is a massive amount still in the fund…but the government is borrowing it on the cheap. Check out National Insurance Fund , I think you will find you have been lied to or fed Daily Mail articles.

    The money is held in the National Insurance Fund (NIF), separate from the Consolidated Fund.[1] Contributions are not “taxes” because they are not directly available for general expenditure by the government.

    The income of the NIF consist of contributions from employees, employers and the self-employed, plus interest on its investments. The NIF are used to pay for social security benefits such as state retirement pensions, but not for the means tested Minimum Income Guarantee and Tax Credits. National Insurance contributions also provide a small part of the funding for the public healthcare systems in the UK (including the National Health Service in England), but contributions are paid into the funds net of money allocated to the NHS.[2] Thus the NIF do not hold money directed for the general provision of health services in the United Kingdom. The Government determines the total allocation for health each year and the allocation from each class contribution is calculated by the Government actuary.

    Each year there is a surplus of the order of £2 billion. The Great Britain NIF had a surplus of over £34 billion as at 2005/06, £38 billion in 2006/7 and the Government Actuary’s Department forecasts that this surplus will grow to over £114.7 billion by 2012.[3]

    This surplus figure has been revised in recent years due to errors in assumptions by the GAD and now is forecast to be just £30 billion by 2016. http://www.gad.gov.uk/Documents/Social%20Security/GAD_Report_2012.pdf

    The surplus is loaned to the government through the Debt Management Office which is part of the Commissioners for the Reduction of the National Debt in Call Notice Deposits (previously invested in gilt-edged securities) and interest on these invested monies is paid to the NIF – £1.3 billion in the 2007/08 year.

  5. Whathefk

    You seem to concur with the right-wing mantra that welfare recipients are somehow sponging off the other tax-paying, hardworking and honest citizens. Your perceptions of reality are twisted, firstly; most welfare recipients are working families whom have to top up their miserable payrates with working tax-credits and other child benefits to afford child-care etc. Secondly, welfare recipients of ALL categories, JSA, pensioners, PiP and low-paid workers, a substantial part of the population, pay taxes VAT when they buy goods, duty on alcohol, cigs and fuel. In fact I don’t know of anyone working age whom is not a tax payer!
    Thirdly you mention a substantial proportion of the UK enjoy a wealthy lifestyle in comparison with the rest of the world; a substantial proportion of the UK population (some 95%) receive or own just 5% the capital wealth of the UK, there is massive economic wealth imbalance in the UK which has been perpetuated recent years by the ConLib pact whom are in government currently. Fourthly net migration in the UK has not changed substantially in the last 10 years; so if there is an apparent burden of cost on the state it IS NOT due to immigration.
    Fifth, there has been massive losses in tax receipts to the treasury recently, put at some £12 billion lost in 2009 (TUC) by top 50 UK companies. In fact the UK Crown Dependencies are the worst offenders in the EU when it comes to Tax Havens.
    Sixth, you can work to 70 if you want but most professional people, police, teachers, doctors usually retire much earlier 55’sh, so why cant ordinary working people.
    The idea that the government is saving the tax-payers money by reducing the civil-service is a fallacy; these services are being replaced often by outsourcing to companies whom often provide an inefficient and costly alternative- that often fails to deliver the goods. I’m talking W2W, UJM, Probationary and prison Services, NHS privitisation – the list is endless, with IDS at the DWP and his crones being among the worst offenders.
    I personally wouldn’t let him run a raffle never mind a government department- he should be sacked for gross incompitance forthwith like any other employee would suffer for shoddy workmanship.

  6. SonOfTheIsles

    Sorry love.

    I am an Agrarian and do not subscribe to bankrupt urban political parties on the left or the right.

  7. Matthew Blott

    I read the first couple of sentences and decided it was shite. Does it suddenly turn into War and Peace?

  8. Colin

    An anarcho-primitivist who uses the internet. Am I the only one having a little chuckle at the irony of that?

  9. treborc1

    But is he wrong come on, for me I’ve won my ESA but I’m actually desperate to get back to work doing anything picking up dog mess if I can get it, the three jobs where I had an interview all three went to immigrants, I went in through the door and these people came out and I was told the Jobs had been taken that was my interview, The young lady on the desk said to me did you think you had a chance and I said nope not really, she said the three people cannot speak a word of English but can walk.

    The fact is I’m waiting for one of the parties to have us tattooed with our NI number and then sent to a new bright gates with “work sets you free”.

Leave a Reply