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Press Release from Sheila Gilmore MP: Statistics watchdog slams Iain Duncan Smith over benefits figures

February 25, 2014

Published with thanks to Sheila Gilmore MP.

Work and Pensions Select Committee member Sheila Gilmore MP today welcomed a letter from the UK Statistics Authority that described figures published by Iain Duncan Smith’s Department as ‘potentially misleading’ and questioned their status as ‘National Statistics’.

The figures relate to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the benefit which provides support  for people who cannot work due to a health condition or disability. Since it replaced Incapacity Benefit in 2008, data from the Department for Work and Pensions has shown that, of all claimants declared as ‘Fit for Work’, one in ten are subsequently awarded ESA after a formal appeal.

However research by campaigners suggested that the number of Fit for Work decisions and successful appeals have been artificially suppressed. This is because figures that supposedly showed the number of people awarded benefit immediately after assessment and before ANY appeals actually already took into account the results of informal appeals against refusals.

Sheila Gilmore raised practice with the UK Statistics Authority in a letter dated 20 December, and this was subsequently acknowledged in a response from the Chair, Sir Andrew Dilnot, on Friday 21 February.

Sheila Gilmore said:

I regularly meet sick and disabled people who are unable to work but who have been declared fit to do so following a flawed ESA assessment.

Until recently we thought that the assessment was getting about one in ten fit for work decisions wrong – far too many in most people’s eyes – but now we know the Government have been fiddling the figures, the reality could be much much worse.

Ministers had led us to believe they were publishing figures that showed the number of people awarded benefit immediately after assessment and before ANY appeals. It now turns out that informal appeals to officials – as opposed to formal ones to judges – were being included in the figures.

Now that the UK Statistics Authority have described these figures as ‘potentially misleading’ and questioned their status as ‘National Statistics’, Iain Duncan Smith should now get on with fixing the test to reduce the number of incorrect decisions, rather than fixing the figures to downplay the problem.

Sheila Gilmore paid tribute to campaigners who brought this issue to her attention:

I want to pay special tribute to the campaigners who brought this issue to my attention. Nick Dilworth from the ilegal network deserves particular credit.

Notes to Editors:

3 Comments leave one →
  1. joshuachristian19691 permalink
    February 25, 2014 12:15 am

    Reblogged this on THE SIEGE OF BRITAIN and commented:
    IDS will just ignore them as he usually does.

  2. February 25, 2014 9:25 am

    Iain * Smith fiddles his figures again! He’s not fit for office and should be sacked and prosecuted.

  3. February 25, 2014 3:40 pm

    Reblogged this on Britain Isn't Eating and commented:
    Is anyone really surprised that IDS et al has again been manipulating figures? He’s been caught and rebuked a few times now and still nothing will happen to him, even after this latest revelation.Does he or the DWP in general have immunity from public responsibility as it certainly looks that way.

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