Government’s own report admits welfare cuts will reduce incentives to work


9:27 am - June 10th 2011

by Sue Marsh    


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After weeks of asking and several Freedom Of Information requests, I’ve finally unearthed the “assessment” the DWP did into Time Limiting (to one year) the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)!

Clearly I use the word assessment in much the way ATOS do: pick a policy and then write some stuff that proves what you want to say.

Just in case you are not an uber-geek like me and can’t stay awake long enough to plough through 16 pages of fairy stories, here’s a quick summary:

» It overwhelmingly affects the poorest most. The % impact falls from the highest in the 1st decile of earnings to the lowest in the 10th.

» It estimates that 60% will simply switch to income-based ESA and not be affected. This is absolutely ridiculous, pie-in the sky rubbish. I have absolutely no idea how they can make this claim.

» The report concludes that over the term of the parliament, 90% of those placed into the Work Related Activity Group (WRAG) will be affected.

» ALL groups will lose income on average through this measure.

» It is based on an assumption that 50% of claims will be appealed! How are they able to go forward with a system this inaccurate?

» The report itself claims that 700,000 will be affected by the Time Limit – a figure previously hotly debated, ranging from 400,000 to 1 million. It is expected to cut benefits for those not fully fit for work by £1.2 billion per year.

» The report acknowledges, just as I’ve been warning, that this is a disincentive to work and may push couples into divorce or into giving up on work altogether. However, they admit that they have no idea how significant this will be.

Possibly the most astonishing part is the claim that the Social Impacts did not need to be investigated, neither under the categories of Health and Well-being, Human Rights or the Justice System. (It does go on to say that an equalities assessment was carried out, which I will do my best to unearth)

As far as I can tell, the research is deeply flawed, based on inaccurate assumptions and incomplete. And surely the disproportionate impact it will have on certain groups is illegal?

If you discount the assumption that 60% will simply move to income based ESA, which I believe is just not true, it is a damning look into what passes for parliamentary research in our so called democracy.

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About the author
Sue is a regular contributor to Liberal Conspiracy. She blogs on Diary of a Benefits Scounger and tweets from here.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Conservative Party ,Health ,Westminster

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Reader comments


1. Mike Killingworth

Are you in the least surprised, Sue?

In truth, the idea that there can be a rational basis for assessing welfare is in itself a fairy story. If you doubt this, imagine that claimants – irrespective of the generosity or otherwise of the rules in place – are divided into two groups. One group is assessed by people of their own ethnic origin, the other by someone from a different ethnic group. Can anyone doubt that those in the second group will get a rougher deal than those in the first?

I will be very surprised if these policies cost the coalition votes – popular support for welfare depends on (perceived) ethnic homogeneity. It has been on the slide for forty years and may well have tipped over, so that the party proposing the toughest approach gets the most support at the next election. If you doubt this, look at the American experience.

Hi Sue,

Outstanding work.

Here is the EIA for time limited ESA – http://www.dwp.gov.uk/docs/eia-esa-time-limit-wr2011.pdf

I’d warn you that even by the standards of the pathetic EIAs done by DWP officials in recent months, this is a particularly hopeless and infuriating one.

Didn’t they pledge to “end the couple penalty”?

They obviously meant “extend” – damn autocorrect.

Donpaskini – Thanks for the link – I don’t seem very good at digging up this research – the above assessment had been out since Feb and I’d been looking all that time!

The most kafka-esque part of the whole policy is that it ONLY affects working families and those who are careful and have savings. It’s also a massive disincentive to work, which is exactly what IDS says he wants to iron out.

These issues are clearly raised in the government’s own report, yet they can get away with ignoring it by saying they have no idea how many people it will affect yet.

I suppose I’m naive as I’ve only just started to scrutinise Parliament to this degree, but I really am shocked at the complete lack of any evidence or links in the report.

5. gruffbilly

STOP PRESS * Blair and Brown had a tiff.!

That’s the real news that matters to the BBC

It’s no surprise at all. The government’s welfare policies seem to be based on a mixture of naivety and magical thinking.

Silly me! Of course millions of jobs will magically appear for all those thrown off disabillity benefit! Especially in the middle of a recession when unemployment among the able bodied is high. Employers will just be queuing up to take them on.

Meanwhile, back in the real world…..


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

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  2. Andrew Ducker

    Government’s own report admits welfare cuts will increase divorce and push people out of work http://bit.ly/mGw1HE

  3. Brian Moylan

    Government’s own report admits welfare cuts will increase divorce | Liberal Conspiracy | http://bit.ly/kUDmaf by @Suey2y #ukpolitics

  4. Kiz

    Oops. RT @andrewducker: Government’s own report admits welfare cuts will increase divorce and push people out of work http://bit.ly/mGw1HE

  5. Sue Marsh

    Government’s own report admits welfare cuts will increase divorce | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/KspHHp0 via @libcon

  6. Wokstation

    Government’s own report admits welfare cuts will increase divorce | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/KspHHp0 via @libcon

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    RT @suey2y: Government’s own report admits welfare cuts will increase divorce | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/KspHHp0 via @libcon

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  13. Kevin Davidson

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  15. Andy S

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  16. David Marsh

    Government’s own report admits welfare cuts will increase divorce | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/KspHHp0 via @libcon

  17. yorkierosie

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  24. Anfortas_Fisher

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