As many of you know I, along with Debbie Sayers have been engaged in a battle to try & get Esther McVey to answer an open letter signed by 866 others, that we sent in April. The letter challenged Ms McVey’s misuse of statistics regarding the introduction of PIP on 4 key areas This letter was supported by several Labour MPs and Michael Meacher MP, was one who also asked Ms McVey for an answer; well he DID get a reply on August 5!
Unfortunately it is a wordy 3 1/2 pages but in order for you to decide if Esther McVey answered our letter, below is the body of her response: (Missing from the below are 3 tables, figures relate to the relevant docs linked)
DWP statistical release procedures
Throughout the development of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) we have published a wide range of information to keep claimants,disability organisations, and the media informed about exactly what is happening. This includes answers to frequently asked questions, a range of statistical and ad-hoc reports, impact assessments, and a suite of information products to provide support to organisations of and for disabled people.
We aim to provide figures and statistics that are accurate and appropriate. Many of our statistics are produced from high quality sources that allow detailed analysis to be conducted. The majority of our statistics are also formally assessed by the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA) and designated as meeting the standards for National Statistics, meaning they are fully compliant with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics, and we invite UKSA to assess new statistics each year.
Reform of Disability Benefits
I turn to some of the specific points that have been raised. The 2004/05 DLA National Benefit Review estimated that levels of fraud in DLA were around 0.5 per cent. However, that review also found high levels of incorrectness in awards with an estimated £630 million (11.2 per cent of the case load) being overpaid and £190 million (6.3 per cent) being underpaid.
I can confirm that over half of claims are made without additional medical evidence. The report cited was our own ad hoc statistical report”DLA Award Values and Evidence Use for New Claims in 2010, in Great Britain”. This report clearly demonstrates that over half of all decisions are made without additional medical evidence; 16 per cent on the claim form only and 36 per cent using other additional evidence other than an independent medical. factual report or examination. (Table used page 8)
The following table from our ad hoc report “Analysis of DLA: DLA Awards” provides clear evidence that over 70 per cent of the current caseload continues to have an indefinite award while the remaining 29 per cent has a fixed term award. Although we are able to reassess the level of award, there is no systematic way of ensuring that awards remain correct unless claimants report a change of circumstances which leaves disabled people more vulnerable to incorrect claims. (Table 2 )
In relation to award lengths, additional guidance introduced around three years ago provides greater clarity for decision makers. The new guidance made it clear that indefinite awards can continue to be made where appropriate, including following an original fixed term award. Whilst this has driven down, for the time being, the numbers of indefinite awards, such awards continue to be made.
Although we are implementing changes for the working age caseload first, we have always been clear that reform of OLA is reform of the benefit as a whole. For example, in our first consultation document, “OLA reform”, we said we would consider to what extent the new assessment could apply to children, recognising that their needs may have to be assessed by age. We have further clarified that, before we consider broader reform, we want to see how the assessment works for working age adults and that we would consult on any changes. Similar considerations will need to be taken for’ pensioners although reform for people of working” age “will clearly begin to impact pensioner benefit numbers as PIP recipients age. Our use of overall caseload increases is, therefore, entirely valid in the context of DLA reform. The analysis report, “OLA: Growth in the Number of Claimants 200/2103 to 2010/11 “, provides evidence that around a third of the growth in the caseload can be attributed to demographic factors, with the remainder due to an increase in receipt per head. The report showed that between 2002/3 and 2010/11, growth in the whole caseload was 29 per cent. Of this, 21 per cent can be attributed to an increase in receipt per head, which is partly due to the maturing of DLA. The remaining 8 per cent is due to a growth in the population and a change in its age and gender structure. Specifically for those aged under 65, demographics account for about a third of the growth, which includes growth due to increases in the population and changes in its age structure due to the ageing of particular cohorts. The remaining two thirds of the growth is due to increases in the percentage of the population claiming DLA. We are absolutely committed to reform of DLA and getting the introduction of
PIP right. That is why we have decided to extend the reassessment timetable and take more time and learn from the initial stages of delivery. This will allow us allow us to consider findings’ from the first independent review of the assessment, which will report by the end of 2014, and “ensure the assessment is working correctly before we embark on higher volumes. In the longer term, it will also help us evaluate how, and to what extent, reform of DLA can be extended to all claimants.
The Department has a strong record of producing and publishing a wide range of data and information. I am committed to this and we will continue to put all the facts into the public domain so that the public can make their own judgements. As a rule, all correspondence to Ministers from MPs is usually signed off at an appropriate Ministerial level. However, given the large volume of correspondence that is sent direct to Ministers by members of the public, it has long been the practice for officials to respond to these enquiries on the relevant Minister’s behalf.
I hope this reply is helpful. Thank you for taking the time to write to me.
Clearly this is a much more detailed response than the one we received from the ‘Head of the Correspondence Team’ on June 28 2013; however despite its wordiness, I don’t feel it answers the points raised in our original letter? Neither does it address the issue of the persistent manipulation and misuse of statistics
What has become even more revealing though is the content of this letter was not only sent to Michael Meacher; the body of the reply reproduced above, was also sent to Tim Loughton. MP after a signatory asked him if he could obtain a response from Ms McVey!
To me this clearly indicates two things; the contempt with which Esther McVey treats the people, who obviously aren’t worthy of a considered response and the lack of regard she has for her Honourable friends, who also don’t merit an individual and honest reply.
Intriguingly Ms McVey is not the only DWP Minister that believes it is acceptable to behave in this way; only 2 days ago Mark Hoban Minster for Employment, fellow blogger Skwawkbox demonstrated Mr Hoban acting in this exact manner!
This behaviour increasingly appears to be the regular modus operandi for the Tory Party, as they blatantly rampage across the Policies and Laws of our land, pillaging & cutting our Rights to Freedom, Equity, Justice, Protest & Welfare, justifying their actions with manipulated statistics and blatant Lies.
If this wan’t awful enough, to me what’s even more disconcerting is, the majority of people losing the way of life their parents/grandparents fought for, appear to be indifferent to exploits of this Government?
I know as we grow older and look back, it can often be with ‘rose coloured glasses‘, where life appears to have been happier, fairer and friendlier but, in the case of life in Britain 2013, this is not so. Life WAS better pre the Coalition Government, not perfect but certainly better; disabled and other vulnerable people weren’t hounded by the media as scroungers and fakers on a daily basis; most workers were employed on contracts that meant they know what they would be paid each week/month for X hours; Food Banks were not growing expediently to try and ensure people don’t starve. These are only a minute number of examples of how life WAS better 4+ year ago, to find more try browsing any social media site for a few minutes.
This is the life we get when we allow Politicians to treat us & their contemporaries with the scorn outlined above, I believe they need to be reminded that it is us, the People they answer to; We elect them & We can get rid of them. For the sake of our children & grandchildren We have a duty to not ignore this behaviour any longer.
If you’re angry about what you’ve read say so, but, more importantly tell Ms McVey & Co