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Citizens of the United Kingdom probably take it for granted that the quality of debate in the House of Commons is usually very high (Prime Minister’s Questions being the dishonorable exception) and that all the questions raised in that place receive an answer.
How sad to see that this is a comfortable lie.
The Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, Mark Hoban, directly answered only 10 questions, among the dozens that were put to him at the debate on Atos’ handling of the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) for Employment and Support Allowance on Thursday.
He added a handful of ‘answers’ that were not related to specific questions, and left a great deal of very important issues hanging.
It is interesting that Mr Hoban was the minister who attended the debate. Here in the UK we do, in fact, have a minister dedicated to the needs of disabled people. At the moment, that minister is Esther McVey. Where was she on Thursday afternoon and why did she not take part in this important debate?
Let’s have a look at the questions that were graced with responses. I think we’ll see the reasons for Mr Hoban’s choices very quickly.
“We are, in effect, trying to put a sticking plaster on a gaping wound,” said Labour MP Ian Lavery (Wansbeck). “Atos and the WCA are not fit for purpose. Does the hon. Gentleman agree that we should bin them both, and start again with the idea of looking after disabled people, rather than the opposite?”
Mr Hoban did not. “Much has been said about employment and support allowance not working—that is untrue,” he said. “What we are seeing is people coming off ESA and getting into work. The number of working-age people on ESA and incapacity benefit in February 2012 was 2.56 million—the lowest level since the introduction of IB in 1995. Early estimates to September 2012 suggest that overall numbers for this benefit are falling and will for the first time be below 2.5 million.”
So his yardstick for success was the number of people who have been cut off from benefit. That’s very revealing.
“Professor Harrington [Malcolm Harrington, who was hired by the DWP to lead three independent reviews of the assessment system] has made it quite clear that the WCA, designed as a first positive step for work, is the right concept for assessing people who need our support. There is a need to improve it. No one doubts that, which is why we have implemented Professor Harrington’s recommendations. The assessment we inherited needed refinement. That is why we accepted and have largely implemented more than 40 of his recommendations over the past two years. That is why twice as many people have gone into the support group in comparison with when ESA was introduced.”
His colleague, Charles Walker (Con, Broxbourne), did not seem to share Mr Hoban’s glowing opinion of these improvements to the system. He asked: “Does my hon. Friend share my fear that the reputation of Atos may be so damaged that it can never really be effective? Perhaps the time has been reached when we need to park Atos and move on in a different direction.”
In response, the minister said: “Let me deal with the issue of Atos’s capability. Atos deals with 100,000 cases every month and it consistency meets the quality thresholds. Only 3.6 per cent of assessments are below standard compared with a threshold of five per cent. It receives complaints about only 0.6 per cent of assessments. DWP decision makers return to Atos assessments that are inadequate for reaching a decision in only 0.2 per cent of cases.”
Note that we are not told what these quality thresholds may be, so let’s turn to the question from Natascha Engel (Lab, North East Derbyshire), who said: “The proportion of original Atos decisions that are overturned is shocking—it is about 30 per cent or 40 per cent. I would be grateful if the Minister replied to that point. Precisely how many people deemed fit for work by Atos have their decisions overturned on appeal and are signed off work?”
Get ready for a shock because this is where Mr Hoban departed from the script with which we’re all familiar: “Let me be clear about the rate of successful appeals. Of all the fit-for-work decisions taken by the Department, only 15 per cent are overturned on appeal. Only 15 per cent of all the decisions we take, then, are overturned on appeal, which I think demonstrates that while we need to ensure that there is a proper appeals process, we should not be bandying around figures that misrepresent the level of successful appeals.”
Only 15 per cent? Where did he get that figure? Other MPs quoted the 40 per cent figure in the debate, including some who had received it as a reliable figure in committee. Perhaps Channel 4’s FactCheckers should get onto this one!
Look, here’s Austin Mitchell (Lab, Great Grimsby) making that exact point: “As our Committee was told, 38 per cent of the cases that go to appeal—I advise all my cases to go to appeal—are successful in reversing the verdict. That demonstrates its inadequacy and the enormous cost in the reassessment process at appeal, a cost that is not taken into account in the Government’s estimates of the savings produced by the system. [We’ll come back to those costs later, although we won’t get an answer to that question] Those reassessments are usually done with the help of the patient’s own doctor, so I do not see why their doctor’s view cannot be invoked and used at an earlier stage in the process. After all, the Government are giving more power to the doctors and claiming that they represent the patients. The doctors know the long-term conditions—they are treating the patient—so why are their views not taken into account by Atos at the start?”
The closest I could find to a response was in fact an answer to a question from Sheila Gilmore (Lab, Edinburgh East): “When we asked judges why they overturned DWP decisions, they said that an error in the Atos assessment was the primary reason for an overturn in only 0.3 per cent of cases. However, although it happens very rarely, I agree with her on one point: I would like to get more information from the judges.” [I was later told that the prime reason for overturns is medical evidence from claimants’ doctors that was ignored by the Atos assessors and DWP decision-makers]
Moving on to specific issues, of the seven questions asked by Michael Meacher (Lab, Oldham West and Royton), Mr Hoban answered only one. That in itself should tell you how selective the responses were, and how little real information was in fact released. Mr Meacher asked: “Will the Minister accept that the current criteria and descriptors do not sufficiently—or even at all—take into account fluctuating conditions, especially episodic mental health problems? How will he rectify that?”
“That is not the case,” said Mr Hoban. “It gives people with a fluctuating condition the opportunity to explain how their condition varies over time. It is not a tick-box assessment, as some have suggested. There is a discussion between the health care professional and the person making the claim for ESA to determine how their condition varies over time. The questionnaire that customers are sent has been redesigned for that purpose, and people are now asked to give more details about how their fluctuating condition affects them as an individual. If a person cannot carry out a function repeatedly and reliably, they will be treated as unable to carry out that function at all. We all recognise that the capacity of people with a fluctuating condition can change, and it is important that proper regard should be given to that fact.”
How interesting, then, that Stephen Timms (Lab, East Ham) asked when changes to the descriptors for fluctuating conditions and mental health conditions, which were recommended months ago by the disability organisations, would be implemented!
Mr Hoban said: “We have committed to a review of the descriptors for fluctuating conditions, and we are working closely with charities on that. We also need to ensure that any new descriptors are as good as, or better than, the existing ones, for the purpose of assessing someone’s condition. That work is going on at the moment.”
So either people with fluctuating conditions already have a glowingly redesigned new questionnaire to help them make their condition understood, or it is being reviewed at the moment. Which is it?
Former Welsh Secretary Cheryl Gillan (Con, Chesham and Amersham) picked up on the mental health issue with some questions of her own. Firstly: “More than 2,000 people have signed a National Autistic Society petition to Atos, which was launched following the ‘Dispatches’ and ‘Panorama’ investigations, with which many of us are familiar, into the company last year. The programme claimed that Atos was working to internal targets on the numbers of people being put into the work-related activity group, the support group or as being fit for work. Atos has indicated that it is open to working with the National Autistic Society and other charities, including in the context of this petition, but I have a specific question for the Minister. Will the Minister provide assurances that no such targets are in place?”
He did: “Several hon. Members suggested that Atos had targets for finding people fit for work or placing them in a particular group. Let me be absolutely clear—let nobody in or beyond the House be in any doubt—there are no such targets. There are no targets for who should be put into which group. Instead—hon. Members would want this—there are quality-control checks.”
I do not believe this. I saw the ‘Dispatches’ programme mentioned by Mrs Gillan and it was stated loud and clear by an Atos trainer that there are targets, and they are harsh. A statement to the contrary by a representative of a government that has been more than economical with the truth? That’s not going to cut any ice with me.
Mrs Gillan went on to address the work of new ‘mental and cognitive champions’ employed to advise Atos assessors: “How many of the mental and cognitive champions currently operating at Atos assessment centres have specific autism training? Do WCA assessors receive autism-specific training? If so, of what does it consist?”
Mr Hoban’s response: “I can assure her that that is the case.” But he avoided details.
She asked how he will monitor the effectiveness of the introduction of those mental and cognitive champions, but Mr Hoban slithered away from that question: “It is not for me to dictate the work that Professor Harrington’s successor will undertake as part of the fourth review, but I think that that is a good suggestion. We need to look at the effectiveness of the recommendations that Professor Harrington has made.”
Picking up on the mental health issue, Madeleine Moon (Lab, Bridgend) asked: “We are told that specific support staff for mental health will be provided. Are they in place? Are they aware of the trauma of post-traumatic stress disorder?”
Mr Hoban chose to wax lyrical for a moment: “It has also been said that the work capability assessment does not take full account of mental health conditions. Let me say a bit about that important issue. We have sought to improve the process and the support for the health care professionals who are undertaking the assessments. All Atos health care professionals receive specific and additional training in assessing mental health conditions—Atos has 60 mental health function champions in place to spread best practice.”
Mr Hoban also went on to answer questions that were not, in fact, raised directly in the debate. Perhaps he has a guilty conscience! Let’s look at them briefly.
“It has also been suggested that Atos health care professionals make decisions on benefit entitlement. They do not. Those decisions are made by DWP decision makers.” We know from the previously-mentioned TV documentaries that DWP decision-makers just rubber-stamp the Atos assessors’ recommendations in the vast majority of cases. This is not a reassuring answer.
“It has been suggested that GPs should make the assessment. The British Medical Association has been prayed in aid. Let me quote what the BMA said about that idea: ‘However, it is not part of the GP’s role to provide any opinion…on the patient’s capability to work as part of this process. It is vital that these two roles are kept separate and that GPs are not asked to provide an opinion on their patient for the purpose of receiving the Employment and Support Allowance; doing so could damage the doctor-patient relationship.'” The BMA has already been approached to repudiate that remark; or at least to provide an explanation of what it meant.
“My hon. Friend the Member for Stafford [Jeremy Lefroy] talked about quality. The tribunal service can refer substandard reports back to Atos as an appeal for further action. It has exercised that right only 23 times in the past year. Rigorous checks are in place to ensure that quality applies.” But this number does not include the amount of appeals that they allowed without reference back, of course.
Now here’s his summing-up, with a few things he wanted to shoehorn in but didn’t have the opportunity anywhere else: “Overall, the proportion of people with mental health conditions being awarded ESA has risen from 33 per cent to 49 per cent. We are seeing improvements and more will be introduced later this month on the categories of cancer treatment that allow people to go straight into the work-related activity group. These changes are happening. We should recognise that change is important and that it is happening.
“This is the right approach,” he said in conclusion. “Demonising the work capability assessment does not help our constituents and does not address their concerns.”
If you weren’t shocked by that last sentence, you haven’t been paying attention to the Atos debate. The whole point is that it is the Work Capability Assessment that does not help our citizens or address their concerns. Demonising it (he’s stealing the word from protestors, who have been using it to describe the government’s attitude to the sick and disabled it is persecuting) is the only way to fight what is happening. But I refer you to the Skwalker blog for a detailed analysis of that statement.
Those were all the questions that were answered by the minister. He did his best to paint a rosy, “nothing’s wrong” picture of the system. But he did so by ignoring important statistics and questions raised by them.
Perhaps he hoped that nobody would notice – or that we would not be cheeky enough to put him on the spot.
Too bad. If that is the case, I intend to misbehave! In this spirit of mischief, let’s look at the questions for which Mr Hoban had no answer, starting with those raised by Mr Meacher:
“How can pursuing with such insensitive rigour 1.6 million claimants on incapacity benefit, at a rate of 11,000 assessments every week, be justified when it has led, according to the Government’s own figures, to 1,300 persons dying after being put into the work-related activity group, 2,200 people dying before their assessment is complete, and 7,100 people dying after being put into the support group?” (NO RESPONSE)
“Is it reasonable to pressurise seriously disabled persons into work so ruthlessly when there are 2.5 million unemployed, and when on average eight persons chase every vacancy, unless they are provided with the active and extensive support they obviously need to get and hold down work, which is certainly not the case currently?” (NO RESPONSE)
“It is true that Harrington has produced minor adjustments—implemented at a glacial place—but the underlying system remains largely undisturbed. The BMA and the NAO have therefore called for a thorough, rigorous and transparently independent assessment of the suitability of the work capability assessment. Will the Minister now implement that?” (NO RESPONSE)
“Will the Minister provide full and transparent details of the Atos contract? They should not be hidden by specious claims of commercial confidentiality when Atos is the sole provider of what is clearly a public service. Better still, given that Atos has failed so dramatically, why does he not in-source the work back into the NHS?” (NO RESPONSE)
“How will the Minister ensure that the medical expertise of disabled persons’ doctors and related professionals is fully taken into account before assessments are completed?” (NO RESPONSE)
“I want to provide a full dossier to the Secretary of State so that he fully understands what is being done today in his name, and to bring a small delegation to see him from some of the excellent organisations of disabled people who have heroically battled to highlight and tackle the distress and pain caused by Atos. Can I please be assured that the Secretary of State will see such a delegation?” (NO RESPONSE)
Mrs Gillan asked: “What steps will the Government take to ensure that Atos collects existing evidence relating to a claimant’s capability to work, which would create a more cost-effective and streamlined system?” (NO RESPONSE)
Natascha Engel asked: “How many people deemed fit for work who do not take their cases to appeal then find work?” (NO RESPONSE)
“Is it really for the best to sign people as fit for work when there are no jobs to be had?” (NO RESPONSE)
“How many of them are getting a job, and how many of them are just being signed over to destitution?” (NO RESPONSE)
Pamela Nash (Lab, Airdrie and Shotts) said: “The Minister’s predecessor, the right hon. Member for Epsom and Ewell [Chris Grayling], made it clear in a Westminster Hall debate last September that he felt that Atos “should make recording available on a voluntary basis”. However, not a single constituent of mine who has come to see me about work capability assessments has told me that they have been offered the prospect of having it recorded. In fact, one constituent told me that she had asked for her assessment to be filmed, following her previous assessment, which resulted in a report that bore little resemblance to that assessment. On that occasion she was found fit for work, but she subsequently won her appeal. She was informed that recording would indeed be possible, but that she would have to pay for a private, independent company to come in to record her assessment. Equipment was not made available to her. She had hoped to take a family member in to film the assessment, but was told that this would not be allowed or appropriate. How on earth is a person living on benefits—living on the breadline—supposed to be able to afford to pay a private company to record their assessment?” (NO RESPONSE)
“Will Atos reschedule an assessment date if the person concerned is told that equipment is not available on the original date?” (NO RESPONSE)
“In the event that a claimant refused to go through with an assessment without a recording, would they be sanctioned in terms of their benefits?” (NO RESPONSE)
Debbie Abrahams (Lab, Oldham East and Saddleworth) asked: “Why does the hon. Gentleman think the Department for Work and Pensions and Atos have been unable to accept the recommendations of the British Medical Association and the Royal Colleges for more specific diagnostic tests that would make the assessments more appropriate?” (NO RESPONSE)
Kevan Jones (Lab, North Durham) asked: “The first contract with Atos was introduced by the previous Government, but why did the present Government renew and extend that contract even though they knew about all the problems that he and others have raised in the House?” (NO RESPONSE)
“The system is also costing the taxpayer money, not only through the additional health care provision for those with mental health conditions but through the extra work load on GPs, the tribunal system, which is at breaking point, and the reassessment system. The other week a 60-year-old nurse with osteoporosis, who has spent 38 years in the NHS, came to see me. She failed the work capability test. She is 61 in April and is now being told that she will be retrained for a new career until she is 62, when she gets her pension. What on earth is the point in wasting money on individuals like that?” (NO RESPONSE)
“There are also cases such as the 21-year-old young lady who ended up in the local psychiatric hospital because she failed the Atos interview. What is the cost of that to the NHS?” (NO RESPONSE)
Kevin Brennan (Lab, Cardiff West) asked: “The head of Atos was recruited from Unum in the United States. Is it not disturbing that the lieutenant governor of California has stated that Unum was operating ‘claims denial factories’ for working men’s compensation?” (NO RESPONSE)
Mrs Moon asked: “Atos received £112.8 million in 2010-11 for its DWP services. About 60 per cent of all claims are judged fit to work; 41 per cent of those people appeal, and 38 per cent of those appeals are successful. Last year, appeals cost £54 million. How can that be seen as value for money? How can this be seen as evidence of a supportive and caring Government in action?” (NO RESPONSE)
“Is sensitivity training available, because it has certainly not been made available to the ex-GP who works as an Atos assessor in my area?” (NO RESPONSE)
“Has the DWP looked at the cost—to Members, to citizens advice bureaux and to welfare rights organisations—of fighting this iniquitous system?” (NO RESPONSE)
Jeremy Lefroy (Con, Stafford) asked a couple of real questions, besides the non-existent one that Mr Hoban answered. They were: “There are cases in which people have had to wait for up to a year before winning appeals and then immediately face another work capability assessment, so the whole process starts again. Why cannot such people be given at least a considerable period of grace?” (NO RESPONSE)
And: “Do the health care professionals employed by Atos always take account of the fact that people have to get to work in the first place, or that, while they may be able to perform an action once, they may not be able to perform it repeatedly when it causes severe pain?” (NO RESPONSE)
Andrew Stunell (Liberal Democrat, Hazel Grove) asked: “Would not speeding up the appeal process also relieve stress and bring about certainty much more quickly?” (NO RESPONSE)
Sarah Newton (Con, Truro and Falmouth) (Con): “Does my hon. Friend agree that we must make Atos understand that in remote rural constituencies such as those we both represent some people have to travel long distances? That problem is leading to a lot of no-shows at the Truro Atos centre, which in turn is leading to lots of delays in assessments, thereby causing a great deal of anxiety.” (NO RESPONSE)
Ian Mearns (Lab, Gateshead): “The Minister for disabled people, the hon. Member for Wirral West (Esther McVey), told this House that by October 2015 560,000 claimants will have had their assessments, and 160,000 will get a reduced award, 170,000 will get no award, and 230,000 will get the same support. How can we know the assessments are valid when we have had such a prediction?” (NO RESPONSE)
Iain McKenzie (Lab, Inverclyde): “What does the Minister think of Citizens Advice’s detailed year-long study “Right first time?” on the controversial work capability assessment run by Atos, which has revealed evidence of widespread inaccuracies in the medical reports that help to determine whether individuals are eligible for sickness benefits? Citizens Advice also tracked a group of people through the process of claiming employment and support allowance and looked at how their claims were handled. The report’s conclusions are stark: 37 individuals were tracked and had their reports examined, with serious levels of inaccuracy revealed in up to 43 per cent of the reports. That level is significant enough to have an impact on the claimant’s eligibility for benefits—surely our sick and disabled deserve better than this.” (NO RESPONSE)
“Is it not better to have an accurate, fair and just system of medical assessment, one that claimants know will treat them fairly and with the humanity they deserve, rather than a system that is, frankly, unfit for purpose and that uses a company, Atos, that instils fear and loathing in people, resulting in a system where people are continually appealing against decisions? We have already heard that the success rate against the decisions is about 60 per cent.” (NO RESPONSE)
Heather Wheeler (Con, South Derbyshire): “When someone drops down dead within three months of being assessed as being perfectly capable of going back to work, what is the review process for Atos?” (NO RESPONSE)
Julie Hilling (Lab, Bolton West): “Why are Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions cruelly finding people fit for work or putting them in the work-related activity group when they are clearly unable to work?” (NO RESPONSE)
“People being placed in the work-related activity group is the next scandal. When people score 15 points and are found not fit for work, but are put in the work-related activity group, they will lose their benefit after 365 days. Is that another way of saving money, but one that also puts disabled people into abject poverty and causes them terrible stress?” (NO RESPONSE)
“Why do the assessors give more weight to work capability assessment descriptors than to professional medical assessments?” (NO RESPONSE)
“Why do they reassess people who have just won their appeal?” (NO RESPONSE)
“Why do they not record the number of people who die through illness or suicide when being rejected for disability benefit?” (NO RESPONSE)
“Why do they not track people who have been found fit for work and people who no longer receive benefit?” (NO RESPONSE)
“How much do all the botched assessments cost us?” (NO RESPONSE)
And Sheila Gilmore asked: “Research commissioned by the previous Government, which I understand is not being continued by this Government—the Minister might reassure us on that—found that 43 per cent of those found fit for work were neither in work nor in receipt of an out-of-work benefit a year later. We must ask where they are. What is happening to them?” (NO RESPONSE)
The conclusion? This is a government that is perfectly happy with a system that is throwing thousands of sick and disabled people to the wolves. It has made – or is making (Mr Hoban wasn’t all that clear) – cosmetic changes in the hope of diverting our attention. As long as the claimant figures are coming down, they will be happy.
As long as claimant figures are coming down.
Yesterday, in my article The High Street implosion is just beginning, I advocated the ‘constructive dismissal’ of the Coalition government by making its work so difficult that it couldn’t go on. If I was feeling mischievous, in the light of the evidence, I think I would suggest that we all ruin that drop in claimant figures by going out and filling ESA50 forms of our own – whether we deserve the benefit or not.
Clearly this government intends to keep Atos in work, so we may as well make it work hard!
Reblogged this on HUMAN RIGHTS & POLITICAL JOURNAL.
Bill Kruse said:
The claimant count’s got down by putting them into the assessment phase for as long as possible. Nearly half a million are sitting in there, neither fish nor fowl, conveniently for Hoban when he has to answer questions http://mylegal.proboards.com/index.cgi?action=display&board=frontline&thread=806&page=1#2369 This Tory government are massaging the figures by doing once again what they did when last in power, hiding people on other benefits. Further, I see again there’s some confusion about the successful appeal ratios. I believe Hoban here is quoting the successful appeal rate as a percentage of ALL Atos decisions, while the higher figure of 40-95% often quoted by critics comes from percentages of actual appeals. A lot of people, it seems, don’t bother to appeal. Perhaps this is a reflection of how ill they are. It would be useful if there were feedback on this question. There isn’t any.
I didn’t appeal because of the stress of phoning and getting spoken to asif i was not fit for purpose made me get so stressed i wanted to kill someone,i suffer from Depression and severe anxiety and they want me to go to Jobcentre and then to a place in town to look for work when i can’t handle even going on public transport or being in crowds due to anxiety attacks.I live in my house and go out 1 time a day and that’s to the shops and i even need help from my GF for that as i can’t stand in que’s as i get palpitations and feel the anxiety attack starting.
I didn’t appeal because after that Atos “medical”, the inevitable ‘nil points’ and the documentation sent me regarding my appeal photocopied (including the signature) bearing no resemblance to me at all in which I was referred to throughout as “he” this and “he” that (I am female, my obviously-female name on every page), I could not face the distress of any more dealings with them, especially as I now know from sites like this that it will never end. I don’t know what’s going to happen now, my nerves are shattered and I can well understand why people are killing themselves.
Alisdair Cameron said:
Reblogged this on Launchpad: By and for mental health service users and commented:
Oh, the many and varied shortcomings of our political process: see how many aspects you can despair at with in this…
Lucy Brown (@CharmedLassie) said:
Thank you for this detailed post. What’s striking is the number of Conservatives making sensible comments, finally aware to the needs of their constituents and not this floundering government.
The DWP did a follow-up survey claimants found fit for work: “The figures were collected through a survey of 1100 people deemed fit to work. A follow up survey of 590 claimants found 43% were still without any form of income, 28% were on other benefits and 29% had found employment. They were conducted between April and June 2009 and were included in a report for the DWP in 2011.”
Is that acceptable? 43% of those kicked off the sick have no income at all? None? Maybe they really are ill? Too ill to negotiate the benefits system and survive perhaps? Many of us wonder whether that’s the point, after all once people are dead and buried, they don’t claim benefits.
Mike Sivier said:
That’s my fear as well. Also, the statistics you – and some MPs in the debate – quoted are now more or less four years out of date! Why has the Coalition not collected up-to-date figures? Is it because people are dying in large numbers? I think it is.
Rod Millard said:
When my wife was found “fit for work” 3 years ago, rather than put her through the strain of an appeal we switched primary claimant and I signed on for JSA. I suspect many of those found “fir for work” have done the same, if they have a partner who can claim benefits for them.
What a calamitous performance!
Mark Hoban said “only 15% of all the decisions we take are overturned”. You asked “where did he get that figure?”
If it is correct that 40% of those claimants judged fit for work appeal, and that 38% of those who appeal are successful, you have it: 38% of 40% = 15.2. (Hope my maths aren’t at fault!)
Mike Sivier said:
That’s fair enough – although there is an argument that, as he is in effect admitting the figure that other MPs quoted at him, he should have said, straight, that this is the same as the figure that other MPs quoted at him! The way he said it made it seem he was disputing the figure.
A 15 per cent fail rate is not acceptable in any case.
It is certainly unacceptable. I wasn’t intending to defend the Minister, only to demonstrate how the DWP manipulates statistics to its own ends.
Mike Sivier said:
Yes – that’s how I took it. If I hadn’t been looking at all of this so late last night, I might have realised it myself and put it in the article. With hindsight, having it pointed out here might be a better way of getting the larger point across. I was taken in by it; others will be as well.
Sue Marsh said:
Close to 40% of DWP decisions go to appeal and of those 40% a further 40% are successful. (figures actually 39ish) So 40% of 40% is 15%. Sorry but Hoban is right.
Just as we say “Up to 70% win at appeal with representation – we are looking at ppl who appeal only and choosing a favourable ( though accurate) angle, so Hoban looks at total claims, then uses an overall appeal success rate.
And that’s how you lie with statistics. 40% AND 15% are correct
Mike Sivier said:
Yes – see my comment above. As I say, I was taken aback because Hoban seemed to be disputing the figures when in fact, as you and Doody62465 correctly point out, he was agreeing with them. That knocked me a little off-balance and prompted me to ask where he was getting his figures from.
Let’s not have any more correspondence about this, please; at the end of the day, it’s not what the article is about.
Sue Marsh said:
Sorry, my bad, I read the article but not the other comments. Apologise if it’s already been discussed. Only have my iPhone in here and it makes everything laboriously slow
Mike Sivier said:
That’s quite all right. 🙂
Sue Marsh said:
Re fluctuating conditions : that’s probably the most false bit of those you’ve picked up on. He IS right to say there is now a space for HCPs to give a wider view of the claimant, but in reality, they are under so much pressure to race through assessments, it takes too long so is often missed out. The Reliably, repeatedly, safely and in a timely fashion” would pretty much fix ESA overnight if they actually used the guidance religiously, but they don’t :((
Jenny Fletcher (@jenny_fletcher) said:
Like the 61 year old mentioned I was put into the work related activity group after my last assessment before I retired. At that time there was less than 8 months to go before my retirement. I was told at that time (August 2011) I would not have to attend work related intervidews. In December 2011 less than 4 months before my retirement I received a letter calling me for a work related interview. I attended and protested that it was a waste of time and money. My Job Centre advisor agreed with me but said that the Gov. had changed the rules.
Once a month for the next 4 months I attended sessions at the Wheatsheaf Trust in Havant. The ‘advisor’ there was so ignorant of modern IT roles that he was unable to understand the type of work I did prior to my illness, how stressful it was and what retraining I would need.
I offered to help other attendees at Wheatsheaf Trust with searching for work online. I was told I would need a CBT check. Would the DWP pay for it? No,the advisor asked and it was refused, so it didn’t happen. What a total waste of time, money and also the skills that I COULD have brought to assist others at far less cost than that ‘work related activity’ cost the department. Wheatsheaf Trust were outsourced from A4E, a company now known to provide sub-standard work in helping people back into work.
And what a waste of time putting someone with severe depression through a stressful process, that was very unlikely to result in work so close to their retirement age.
I would suggest to the Minister that the recommendation be made that someone with less than a year to go to retirement and who will not be re-assessed before their retirement date be placed in the support group so that the money can be saved to assist someone younger with real work prospects.
Bill Kruse said:
One could argue that the real point of the ‘work related activity’ was that it successfully funnelled taxpayer’s money into the pockets of businessmen. Look at it as a raid on the public purse and it all makes sense.
Mike Sivier said:
Yes indeed, and I have made that point in previous articles. It is good that you have raised that issue here, though – it would be easy to forget these elements as new information makes itself known.
It’s time people spread word and waken up to what this Government are doing, we are now seeing the effects of the Rich getting richer and paying next to no tax while the poor get poorer and everyone else like OAP’s,disabled and working class paying allsorts back aswel as this back to work nonsense along with ATOS who aren’t fit for purpose and are telling ppl who are terminally ill with Cancer they are fit to work just so that people can meet targets and ban you from getting benefits for upto 3 years in some cases if you don’t comply, this is a ploy to make us suffer and they don’t care because they don’t want to pay and we need to take a stand, where does it end, now we have this bedroom tax which is like Thatchers poll tax and it’s time the people stood up to this mob as this Tory government aren’t fit for purpose, we can only spreadn the word and hope others start to open their eyes as that’s what these ppl are scared off.
My physical medical problems where disregarded totally by a nurse at the ATOS WCA , farce ,
I appealed and lost the appeal as i live in an area where the appeal success rate is low compared to other parts of the uk,
I am starting a fresh claim for ESA , as my health problems haven’t magically vanished because is scored zero points even though my conditions satisfied the descriptors , Such as IBS and continence issues,
They seem to feel use of pads and medication are sufficient to enable you to work, my argument was that although they may prevent soiling of clothing or reduce the risk,
I would still need to shower or wash myself , not many workplaces will provide such facilities, and there is also the disposal of the soiled pad , So pads are not a practical solution in reality ,only in their warped minds
We need to rise up and stop scum like that Nazi IDS who’s goal in life is to persecute the poor and sick people, The guy is obsessed with coming up with new ways to add more misery by cutting the benefit rates, making the sick work for benefits. I hope he is unable to sleep at night, he should be strung up and camerloon as well
Spot on these people are just petty bullies how they get away with it is incomprehensible but it certainly doesn’t reflect well on the intelligence of the general population, who must be about as retarded as these people. I think he will sleep well at night though due to the fact he’s a complete twat. He better hope he has decent security though, he shouldn’t be able to go anywhere now unattended.
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