How Telegraph misled on disability benefits


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3:11 pm - May 14th 2012

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contribution by Shennan Brennan

Dear Daily Telegraph,

You had the scoop of the decade with MPs expenses. You are clearly a paper that employs excellent journalist with great research skills. It is a shame these skills weren’t utilised when you interviewed Ian Duncan Smith yesterday about the changes to DLA.

Here are the basic mistakes in your article;

1. The subheader says IDS is going ahead with changes to DLA to “rid the system of abuse and fraud”. The Government’s own figures show DLA fraud is 0.5% for 2010/11. To start the article as you did just cements the idea in the mind of the public that all disabled people are scroungers and consequently increases disabled hate crime.

2. IDS says the number of claimants have risen by 30%. This isn’t true. According to IDS’s own department, the claimant case has risen by 16% amongst working-age claimants, to whom these changes will only apply, once population growth has been taken into account.

3. “The rigorous new process being introduced by Mr Duncan Smith could lead to those without limbs, including former soldiers, having their payments reduced as their everyday mobility is not undermined by their prosthetic limbs”.

If you read the Government’s draft qualifying criteria for Personal Independence Payments (that is replacing DLA) you’d have realised this statement is disingenous. It clearly says that even if your everyday mobility is severely limited through amputation, under the new system you’ll receive minimal support to help with this.

Case study 7 says “Andy is 50. His left leg was crushed and had to be amputated above the knee and his right leg was also injured.The scar on his left stump has not healed very well so he has difficulties with his prosthesis and his right leg is weak. He finds it very tiring if he walks more than 40-50m so he often uses a wheelchair if he is going outdoors. Mobility activities = 10 (standard rate Mobility component)”. This means that the Government recognises that Andy cannot walk more than 50metres, that, to use IDS’s terminology, his ‘everyday mobility’ is undermined but will only award him 10 points. This means he will no longer be able to access the motobility scheme which allows him to rent a car to give him the freedom that his body no longer allows him.

4. “In the assessment, lots of people weren’t actually seen. They didn’t get a health check or anything like that”. To get DLA you are medically assessed by the doctors and hospital workers that see you regularly. They need to provide supporting evidence to the DWP that your disability or illness is as you have described it. The DWP regularly contacts doctors who have provided supporting evidence for extra information before it makes a decision. This is why it is actually very hard to be awarded DLA and why the fraud rate is so low.

5. “Something like 70 per cent had lifetime awards, (which) meant that once they got it you never looked at them again”. This 70 per cent figure may be true and it is very high, but to suggest that some people should not receive lifetime awards shouldn’t automatically mean that no-one receives lifetime awards. Many claimants have degenerative incurable illnesses such as Parkinson’s or, like me, Cystic fibrosis, or are permanently paralysed. We can’t get better, so if we are found to need help this year then the same will be true in four years time. It is a waste of taxpayer’s money to reassess all claimants every few years.

6. You quote IDS as saying “Tony Blair’s government tried to attack DLA, just to restrict it. We’re not doing that”. Actually IDS is. The Government declared in its Budget 2010 policy costings document that it intends to save 20% from its DLA budget by changing the way it is allocated – this is the very definition of restricting DLA.

There are other things I do not agree with with this article, but as they are matters of tone not fact you have a right to editorial control over these issues.

I appreciate that the Telegraph is right-leaning and therefore broadly supportive of the current Government, but by swallowing every fact uttered by IDS without question, this piece reads as a poor piece of advertorial for the Government’s cuts not as a strong, piece of quality journalism.

Yours sincerely,
Sharon Brennan

—-
Shannon is a writer and journalist living in London and living with Cystic Fibrosis. Her blog focuses on the latest news and opinions on NHS.

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Reader comments


1. John McDonnell MP

Brilliant, succinct rebuttal of Duncan Smith’s yet further disgraceful attack on people with disabilities.
Thanks to Sharon (wasn’t sure if it’s Sharon or Shannon) for this excellent piece.

John

2. Chaise Guevara

@1

“wasn’t sure if it’s Sharon or Shannon”

Or Shennen, according to the byline…

Great article, the upset these changes has caused and how little (if any) actual savings will be made is certainly not worth it. Those on disability for mental health issues such as depression and those for which depression is a symptom will be doubly traumatised by these changes and the often bigoted way in which the recipients are talked about.

I used to be proud to live in Great Britain, but with this and the NHS changes (that yes, Labour started… two wrongs don’t make a right), our once great rail service… it feels like slowly but surely the Great has left Britain, all to save a few pounds tax.

4. Elizabeth

Wow, what a great rebuttal! I am currently on receipt of DLA and highest mobility which enables me to the motability scheme and a car. My car is a lifesaver, I could not get anywhere without it. I am an above knee amputee with scoliosis caused by me appalling gait. I get tired very quickly and suffer a sore lower back when I have to walk or stand for any significant amount of time. I also get shin splints in my left leg from walking. According to IDS I will not be eligible for highest mobility when PIP comes in. Well, guess what, I won’t be able to work anymore. IDS has no experience with disability and therefore should not be in charge of our fate.

Really, great great article! :)

5. So Much For Subtlety

1. The subheader says IDS is going ahead with changes to DLA to “rid the system of abuse and fraud”. The Government’s own figures show DLA fraud is 0.5% for 2010/11.

You ask bureaucrats to investigate themselves and lo and behold they find they are doing a pretty good job. That does not mean fraud is low. It means that the people handing out money think they are doing it properly. Meaningless.

To start the article as you did just cements the idea in the mind of the public that all disabled people are scroungers and consequently increases disabled hate crime.

Two myths. No one thinks all disabled people are scroungers and there is no significant level of disabled hate crime. Any argument that relies on porkies like this cannot be credible.

2. IDS says the number of claimants have risen by 30%. This isn’t true. According to IDS’s own department, the claimant case has risen by 16% amongst working-age claimants, to whom these changes will only apply, once population growth has been taken into account.

So the figure is right, it is just that population has grown as well? This not only doesn’t show IDS is wrong, it is a quibble about how to contextualise the number.

To get DLA you are medically assessed by the doctors and hospital workers that see you regularly. They need to provide supporting evidence to the DWP that your disability or illness is as you have described it. The DWP regularly contacts doctors who have provided supporting evidence for extra information before it makes a decision. This is why it is actually very hard to be awarded DLA and why the fraud rate is so low.

Again fraud is not low or at least there is no evidence it is. And the explosion in people claiming it proves it is not hard to get. Why should anyone believe some unsupported assertion? I am inclined to think, based on my own experience of people on like schemes, that IDS is right. What is the evidence to the contrary?

This 70 per cent figure may be true and it is very high, but to suggest that some people should not receive lifetime awards shouldn’t automatically mean that no-one receives lifetime awards.

Indeed. But irrelevant.

It is a waste of taxpayer’s money to reassess all claimants every few years.

That depends on how many are getting better.

6. Mr S. Pill

I hope our resident troll SMFS never falls on hard times and gets too sick to work.

:)

“I hope our resident troll SMFS never falls on hard times and gets too sick to work.

:)

i on the otherhand hope he does

Trying to work out what makes SMFS think that those responsible for investigating fraud prevalence are the same people who assess individual DLA claims for fraud.

The figure comes from the National Benefit Review of 2005. It’s predecessors grossly exaggerated fraud and I’m sure SMFS has a brilliant explanation for why the bureaucrats would be so inconsistent especially as the government are relying on the £630 million overspend figure a lot, from that same National Benefit Review.

9. Red or Dead

I think you’ll find that SMFS has already fallen on hard times, he likes to give the impression he’s a high flying Tory making all sorts of disparaging remarks against ‘the cripples’ and ‘the scroungers’ and ‘the blacks’ etc. I fear however that he doth protest too much and is in fact probably a self harming disabled, benefit claimant living on his own in a council flat somewhere in Newham.

Having fallen on said hard times due to an accident at his previous job he spends his days hunched over a computer, eating nothing but plain digestive biscuits (can’t afford choccy ones), masturbating over Loose Women and then hates himself for doing so and everyone around him and instead lashes out at those who were lucky enough to be granted DLA which he himself has not qualified for.

10. So Much For Subtlety

8. Mason Dixon, Autistic

Trying to work out what makes SMFS think that those responsible for investigating fraud prevalence are the same people who assess individual DLA claims for fraud.

That is either dishonest or disingenuous. I wonder which it is. The same individuals? As we both know I did not say that. The same Department? Well the National Benefit Review in 2005 was carried out by which Department again?

It’s predecessors grossly exaggerated fraud

How do you know? Are you saying that before this review the government thought there was massively more fraud? And after this review the government has yet again come around to the conclusion that there is massively more fraud? But this review, and only this review, is correct while all the other reviews and conclusions are wrong?

Interesting.

11. Phil Stevens

Fantastic piece of journalism unlike the daily Telegraph that failed to investigate its facts by publishing an article that could only insight further the public’s belief that the disability benefit system is being attacked by scroungers and sponges by fraudenltly claiming benefits to which they’re not entitled.

The things is SMFS, you regularly rubbish the 0.5% DLA fraud figure but I have yet to see you provide any other evidence into the levels of disability benefit fraud. All you do is speculate, based seemingly on anecdote and your own beliefs.

Please do correct me if I’m wrong, and give us all the links to your list of citations.

he ( #IDS ) should have registered this ? http://iainduncansmith.com/

http://iainduncansmith.com/ you’d have thought he’d have registered his own name ?

@5 SMFS

You ask bureaucrats to investigate themselves and lo and behold they find they are doing a pretty good job. That does not mean fraud is low. It means that the people handing out money think they are doing it properly. Meaningless.

Your assertion would imply that the figures were in dispute somewhere, but they are not – except in the minds of reactionaries.

So the figure is right, it is just that population has grown as well? This not only doesn’t show IDS is wrong, it is a quibble about how to contextualise the number.

You seem to misunderstand the difference between a gross number and a more relevant net figure.

Again fraud is not low or at least there is no evidence it is.

Ah, requesting that people prove a negative? Despite verified figures available backing up the statement that “fraud is low”. Poor show, that.

Transparent too.

And the explosion in people claiming it proves it is not hard to get. Why should anyone believe some unsupported assertion? I am inclined to think, based on my own experience of people on like schemes, that IDS is right. What is the evidence to the contrary?

I bet you have no such experience. Given the many hoops, I reckon IDS is wrong. And finally what is the evidence to the contrary? SMFS hasn’t provided a sniff of any.

Me and my daughter have a right old laugh at the comments on the Telegraph website. The Telegraph is obviously read by old boys who are clueless.

Red or Dead @ 9

SMFS is just your typical hate filled Tory, like millions of the vermin from IDS, Cameron all the way down the structure, that infest this once great Nation. He just spouts what the rest of these cunts actually believe.

18. Grayling

Re Our Resident Troll SFMS interesting similarity to this http://www.benefitfraud.org.uk/ or he’s one of Purple Scorpion AKA John Page’s minions

The reality is that the DWP under Lilley in the Major era , His Toniness with New Labour have reeled out a succession of schemes to crack down on the hard core Frank Gallagher Shameless type with their sink estate scams ….such as Benefit Integrity ….and they’ve all been quietly retired .

Using imported from the US , outlawed UNUM Provident Methods and Illegal Insurance definitions has been just as counter productive for the #DWP and #ATOS Origin …it’s like using a sledge hammer to crack a nut . #ATOS are paid £100 pa for services rendered …the cost to the state for all these appeals reached £80m …interesting ?

19. Jean Eveleigh

I have to point out your point 5 is inaccurate no one on an indefinite award never gets reassessed again they are just exempt from being assessed every three years but the DLA people can write to them at any point from when they receive the award to check whether there has been a change in circumstances.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Jane Trow

    Excellent response to idiot Torygraph IDS piece. http://t.co/ufM9FZWe

  2. Anna Hayward

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  8. Viv

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  11. Nell Epona Bridges

    Very clear response to IDS claims here: RT @libcon: How the Telegraph is misleading on disability benefits http://t.co/iIksPham

  12. Lilacwheelz

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  13. Benefits: the disabled and deserving?… | Atos Victims Group News

    [...] How Telegraph misled on disability benefits(liberalconspiracy.org) Share this:PrintFacebookEmail (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/all.js#xfbml=1&appId=245029885604957"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs); }(document, "script", "facebook-jssdk")); This entry was posted in Atos Assessments, Coalition, Disability, DLA/PIP, DWP, Government, Welfare Reform and tagged Daily Telegraph, Department for Work and Pensions, Disability, Disability Living Allowance, DWP, Iain Duncan Smith, Labour by admin. Bookmark the permalink. [...]

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  30. Kyron Hodgetts

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  36. Rowland Paul Hill

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  39. John D W Macdonald

    How the Telegraph is mislead on disability benefits | Liberal Conspiracy

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  41. Robert Holland

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  42. Eugene Grant

    "Swallowing every fact uttered by IDS w/out question, this reads as a poor piece of advertorial for Govt’s cuts" http://t.co/0UGSrF1C

  43. Simon P. Hughes

    "Swallowing every fact uttered by IDS w/out question, this reads as a poor piece of advertorial for Govt’s cuts" http://t.co/0UGSrF1C

  44. Richard

    "Swallowing every fact uttered by IDS w/out question, this reads as a poor piece of advertorial for Govt’s cuts" http://t.co/0UGSrF1C

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