Tuesday 2 April 2013

Schapps proven utterly wrong

As I spent most of my Easter Sunday explaining to Sky News, LBC Radio and BBC Radio London why the ESA figures Grant Schapps had released were inaccurate, it seems only fitting I cross-post a definitive rebuttal from Declan Gaffney here.

Shapps was wrong, the figures WERE the old one's already proven wrong months ago and he can apologise any time he likes. Declan blogs at lartsocial.org and frankly, a quick read through ALL of his posts shows just why this is a battle we MUST win though the odds are continually stacked against us

"I've invited housing minister Grant Shapps, via Twitter, to correct an inaccurate statistic which he promoted in several print and broadcast outlets over the Bank Holiday weekend.
The claim appeared in these words, from the Press Association on Saturdayhttp://uk.news.yahoo.com/nearly-900-000-drop-benefit-claims-225950176.ht... 'More than a third of people who were on incapacity benefit dropped their claims / rather than/ complete a medical assessment, according to government figures. A massive 878,300 chose not to be checked for their fitness to work under tests brought in when the benefit was replaced by Employment Support Allowance in 2008.' The Guardian states 'Shapps issued a news release over the weekend claiming that 878,300 people claiming incapacity benefit – more than a third of the total – had chosen to "drop their benefit claim entirely /rather than/ face a medical assessment".
I've emphasised the phrase 'rather than' because that is where the inaccuracy lies, and as it occurs in both the PA and Guardian stories, it is presumably included in the press briefing document issued by Mr Shapps (which I haven't seen). What is being asserted is not just that a certain number of people dropped their claims, but that they all did so for a specific reason - in order to avoid assessment. This assertion is clearly inaccurate.
Every month, about 130,000 people leave Employment Support Allowance (ESA). Of these ESA leavers, about 20,000 have not yet undergone a Work Capability Assessment (WCA). There is no mystery about this: claims for ESA are counted from when people are issued with an ESA 50 form to fill in, and there is an inevitable gap between the form being issued and the Work Capability Assessment. Indeed according to Nomis there are currently 488,000 claims in the 'assessment phase' of ESA, meaning that there has not yet been a decision on entitlement.
Obviously, during the gap between the initial claim and assessment, many people will see an improvement in their condition or will return to work (with or without an improvement in their condition), and DWP research has shown that these - and not a wish to avoid assessment - are the overwhelming reasons for people dropping their claims before the assessmenthttp://statistics.dwp.gov.uk/asd/asd5/rports2011-2012/rrep762.pdf . For those familiar with the sheer scale of monthly on- and off-flows for ESA and its predecessor, Incapacity Benefit, these findings are unsurprising.
The same research found that in 'only a handful' of cases had people who had dropped their claims failed to attend a Work Capability Assessment. For 'a small number of claimants', receipt of an invite to a Work Capability Assessment triggered them to contact DWP to withdraw their claim. Note that even in this small number of cases, there is no reason to believe that the WCA invite contributed to the decision not to pursue the claim. People who drop their claims may or may not notify DWP of their decision- which means they may continue to be counted on the ESA caseload for some time after their decision.
Thus to claim, as Mr Shapps seems to have done, that everyone who leaves ESA before assessment is leaving in order to avoid the assessment is patently inaccurate.It is not just that he has no evidence to back up his claim. There is evidence, and it shows he is wrong. He should issue a correction and apology.
[Update: Grant Shapps is of course the Conservative party chairman, not the housing minister. That means that his inaccurate claims were made in a party political role, so they are not subject to the rules governing ministerial use of statistics, although this would presumably be the case were his claims to be repeated by a minister. There's been some confusion about the source of the 878,300 figure: it comes from table 1 in this release http://research.dwp.gov.uk/asd/workingage/index.php?page=esa_wca and, as I should have said originally, represents all ESA claims which ended before assessment between October 2008 (when ESA was introduced) and May 2012. Finally, among those who should have known better who uncritically repeated the claim, Tim Worstall deserves special mentionhttp://timworstall.com/2013/04/01/interesting-number-eh/?utm_source=twit... simply because he accused another blogger, and indeed all 'lefties', of being 'lying scumbags'http://timworstall.com/2013/04/01/yes-of-course-lefties-are-lying-scumba... while failing to locate, let alone understand, the original data.]


  1. Liars, damn liars and then there's the Tories

  2. Lefties are lying scumbags?? Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! He should go look in the mirror. When he does, he will see that his nose has grown and he will also feel his backside burning because his pants are on fire.

    The toerags are leading this country into a deep black hole and it frightens me to think what things will be like in another year. People are dying and there is more to come.

  3. Here is something I found in a comments section recently and it's eloquent, passionate, but most of all, true:

    So this is what we have come to?

    The dreams of the last century, that increased mechanisation and automation would lead to increased leisure time for the masses, relieved of the drudgery and sheer mindlessness of much unskilled work. Instead, compounded by the outsourcing of jobs and the influx of cheap immigrant workers, the best the 21st century can come up is forced labour at slave wage levels, extended working hours, and the age of retirement heading for 70. So with the stroke of IDS's pen, we go from an economic strategy that deliberately creates mass unemployment to one that deliberately creates cheap labour. Brilliant. There's an honour in this for you, Ian, rehabilitation, glory, a statue.

    My God, my ancestors will be turning in their graves. The Tories are finally realising what they have long dreamed of - throughout the years of the post-war settlement, they moodily incubated a determination to reverse the social and economic gains fought for and won by people of unparalleled toughness and determination, people who took on the might of privilege and wealth and defeated it. This is the New Tory moment; this when they come out from behind their cosmetic masks of reasonableness and fairness and social concern and display their true dark hearts before the world.

    But I reserve my greatest contempt for those of us on the left; this is all happening on our watch. We betray those people I mentioned above, who vanquished the landowners and the factory and coal owners. And what are WE up against? a couple of Bullingdon hooray-henries and a leadership reject with the political acumen of petrified bird droppings.

    But the neoliberal apologists and careerist politicians that have infested the Labour Movement see only the votes of bigoted Middle Englanders and the ignorant Sun reading dross that posts here waiting to be harvested. The latter busy calling for their own enslavement, too ignorant or misinformed to notice the turkey staring back at them in the mirror of a Christmas Morning. And in the new Dark Age heralded in by IDS, every morning will be Christmas Morning for the beneficiaries, the businesses who will exploit this measure to access free labour, the talk of charities being a transparent smoke screen to hide the fundamental dismantling of the human right for a fair day's pay for a fair day's work.

    Make no mistake, this is just the beginning. Anyone who thinks that once the principle of unpaid labour has breached the social repugnance it generates that it will stop at a month's work for 'idlers' is the kind of fool the Tories are relying on get this through. These are the descendants of people who built vast fortunes and empires on the sweat and death of their factories and workhouses; they are past masters at dressing up inequality and evil in Protestant work ethics and biblical rhetoric denouncing the peril of idleness - except where it's practised in its purest forms of course, by digital fortune shufflers and land owning parasites drawing their subsidies while they indulge Mediterranean waves with their oversized cock-yachts.

    Shame, shame on us all. Tolstoy said everyone was innocent. I say everyone is guilty. And our children will never forgive us for allowing this to happen. The Tories talk of not saddling future generations with our debt; I think only of future generations facing the return of evils greater than any debt, that we had long thought banished from the lexicon of social intercourse and post war economics, all presented as some kind of economic panacea. Who is really 'taking the piss' here?

  4. I am personally one of those smeared by this allegation.

    I opened my first claim for ESA in October 2008 after my SSP ran out when my progressive illness first got bad enough for me to have to take a long period off work. I was one of the very first claimants of ESA in the UK.

    During this time I was receiving aggressive medical treatment and eventually (although still extremely ill) I recovered enough to go back to work. Due to the timescales involved I happened to go back before I was ever called up for a medical assessment.

    Surely this was doing the right thing? What would the government have had me do? Stay off work a few more months claiming a benefit I no longer needed just so that I could go to a medical which would have confirmed that I wasn't entitled to it?!

    Two and a half years later as my illness had continued to progress I once more had to stop work and once more had to claim ESA. This time no amount of medical treatment would make a difference and so I stayed on the benefit long enough to be called up for the so called medical assessment. This confirmed I was very ill and I was put into the support group.

    At no point was I afraid of the assessment. At no point did I try to claim the benefit when I did not need it. I worked for as long as I was able to, and in fact I worked while I was very ill.

    I strongly resent the implications that have been made and feel personally insulted.

  5. ESA is either Contributions Based or Income based or Work Related or Support Groups If you are Contributions based it stops after 12mths therefore you can either re apply or given JSA This can cause fiq to go up & down it can make it look that people are not reclaiming but it may mean partners are in work so they are not entitled to Income based but maybe transferred to JSA .. it juggles the fiq around to suit them ,,

  6. Comments on a story on Yahoo about the benefits situation:

    I run my own company and employ about 150 skilled and semi skilled people I took on a man that A.T.O.S said was fit for work so he did what he thought was right and applied for the vacancy, I had my doubts when I interviewed him but because the work was light I gave him the job.

    On his first day all he had to do was pack bolts into a box he was doing fine for about an hour then his joints seized and we had to call an ambulance he was extremely embarrased and would not stop apologising I re-assured him and told him I would speak for him at a tribunal if he wished.

    After he left in the ambulance I contacted the job centre and told them he was not fit for work after a load of speel they told me to contact A.T.O.S, which was a complete waste of time I would have had more sense from un-trained chimps.

    The government have not thought this through properly, they have turned people against people who are genuine claimants and need the support of the benefit system, fortunately the man had his benefits returned to him.

    Comments (and I have not included the replies to the comments - the public are very angry about all this - (except for one loser on this blog who is probably IDS himself)…..

    * what they don't realise is can you hold that pen for eight hours+ a day, some people with disabilities can manage to walk a few metre's but couldn't do it for a work shift, some people can sit in a chair but not all day, I know a man who must lie down every so often or he is in pain, now tell me what employer will let him do that.
    In my opinion the government have picked on the easy one's in society, the sick and disabled, the aged and infirm.
    I will never vote for them again.

    * Lost my voice due to Dystonia last August. That means unable to speak!
    Told by the Job Centre if I did not call employers for work I would lose my benefits!
    Now on ESA awaiting assessment after which I will back to the Jobcentre and staring at a phone I cannot speak on.

    30 years paying into the system and when I need help I am made a Scrounger...forced into a system that will find me fit for work rather than acknowledging my disability and helping me. I just want some help getting a job ... don't care what !

    Due to all the impossible requests I now have blood pressure at 200/100 plus.

    I guess that's the whole point .... When we cant make them money ... Pathways !

    1. (Replies continued):

      * good on ya shame more employers there isnt more employers like you!......:)

      * If I'm not mistaken doesn't Dystonia also affect your muscle co-ordination, if so tony you must appeal, if you think that going back to work is detrimental to your health and a health and safety issue to others(Speech to warn of impending accident) you really must stand your ground, the job centre must really employ some idiots if they can't see you have trouble using the phone.
      Don't let them get you down, try not to get worked up over them Remember you are a human being and your life is worth as much as their's, I'm glad the appeals process worked for you I just wish more and more who are genuinely sick and disabled would use it, as I said above the government might take notice if they see more and more appeals being upheld.

      * It all comes down to .How the government can kill off the weak ,sick and the old. After all we are ,in their eyes over populated. So, first close down the hospitals..Those who can afford will survive.Those who cannot afford treatment will not survive.
      Then cut any funds .therefore they save on the sickness benefits,and pensions...
      I somehow feel, that once that has been achieved, the money that has been accumulated will not go back into the kitty, but into even bigger bonuses.
      The best laid scheme of all, is to set the people against each other. So while we are all tearing at each others throats. they are laughing at us 'Plebs'
      How dare they suggest that they could live on such a paltry amount.From their mansions, and in some cases, yachts.

      * This is the same Osbourne that was caught fare dodging, the same Osbourne that flipped his second home (payed for by the tax payers) and called it his first home to avoid capitol gains tax, the Torys are nothing but well dressed vermin.

      * So, today this is about not 'rewarding people who do the wrong thing'. Yesterday it was all about 'fairness'. There messages on this issue are becoming more fragmented by the day, it would seem. A quote from Inane Dumbgit Smith......'But he was also facing a backlash after suggesting that he could get by on £53 a week, rather than his current after-tax income of £1,600 a week. "If I had to I would," Mr Duncan Smith told BBC Radio 4's Today programme......But that is the whole point you obsiquious, arrogant, prat. YOU don't have to, do you? But you and your pal, Georgie, are quite happy to force others to try to exist on such levels of benefit, most (I repeat MOST) through no fault of their own. Then, when Georgie patently fails to balance the books, you turn your vindictive attentions to penalising those with very little, by reducing even further. the meagre amounts that they do get. Anyone with half a brain can see how you are manipulating things in order to shift the blame from your own inept, and ill thought out policies, onto those who are forced to use the benefits system. I have to say you have met with some success in that. You only have to read the comments on this forum to see that many of those who have (so far) been lucky enough to keep their jobs, etc, have fallen for your 'divide and rule' strategy. Play off one part of society against the other, and while they are fighting each other, you can get on with flushing this country down the toilet. I despair of the intelligence sometimes of my fellow countrymen.

      * The local elections this year will see whether he is right in saying that everyone else is out of touch with him. These cuts are just the beginning of the end of the welfare state. The cuts in legal aid which were hard fought for in the late 60's, early 70's have been eradicated. The NHS is now a logo. We have never had NHS England before. This unelected bunch of politicians now in power are destroying the country and they did not have a mandate to do so.

    2. More replies - (no one has voiced any other opinion except anti-IDS and anti-tory ones).

      * I could understand lots of things if the system was a fair and level playing field but it's not is it? These measures would work IF the taxation system was all under one umbrella so that you could work 2 or 3 jobs (assuming there were any) without the threat of BR tax on the other 2 jobs.

      Working for an agency doesn't penalise folk from claiming the dole. It's a ludicrous situation when someone has to decide between taking work for a day or attending an interview so they can receive dole for the time they didn't have work as it's nigh on impossible to rearrange the appointment because to the job centre it means you don't need it really.

      IF there were houses built and available to move into, council wise.

      IF there were jobs in the first place for people to apply to.
      Plenty of people through no fault of their own cannot work, how are they meant to survive?

      Plenty of people have been made redundant and can't find further work, how are they meant to survive.

      Everything has gone up in price people in work find it difficult, how are they meant to survive? Sort the system out first before penalising people. I need to hear UKIP's answer to this as they've been awfully quiet! Does anyone know?

      * This government persecutes the vulnerable and the weak as it lowers taxes on the rich, they should all be arrested and charged with crimes against the people

      * If as HE say's "BRITAIN CAN NO LONGER AFFORD TO REWARD PEOPLE WHO DO THE WRONG THING" then how come he is still being paid to be a so called MP

      * The vast majority affected by these changes are low paid workers not just the unemployed. Don't forget the tories opposed the minimum wage so would like to see the low paid getting even less. Also don't forget from yesterday millionaires with the %5 tax cut are on average £2000 per week better off.

      * Osborne and his crew are some of the most revolting people ever in Westminster. If there was a revolution in this country, they would be the first up against a wall. I'd see to it personally.

      * Here's a little question for you.

      Lets suppose that the Nasty party are allowed to continue for the next 20 years and by some magical input their policies work.

      Do you think for one minute that if the deficit is paid off that your Income Tax will get less ?
      Do you think that the cost of everyday living will get less?
      Do you think that they will start to relax council tax ?
      Do you think that there will be more money around for the average working man?

      Nothing will change, nothing will improve (at least not for all of us at the bottom of the ladder), all of these people who presently support the Nasty party in their endeavours to cripple us, just what do you believe is at the end of the rainbow for you ?

      There is nothing there !, no easement, no relief, no better days. Just more of the same.

    3. They can afford £25 billion for replacing Trident though.

  7. True story - today I was in the queue at a supermarket, and an older couple were buying a newspaper with IDS on the front (ya know, claiming that people can live on 7.50 a day), and the facial expression was one of complete disgust.

    The lady on the checkout saw me reading it, and as she passed it over the scanner, she said "I'd like to see him try" (to live on 7.50 a day).

    There were about 5 more people behind me, and some in the adjacent queue, and we all expressed the same anger. We all had a bit of a rant about it. The mutual disgust and outrage is bringing people together. The strategy of pitting people against people is backfiring on the toerags.

    I think the tories are going to have a war on their hands soon.

  8. Oh I am over the moon - IDS has proved that if you give someone enough rope they will hang themselves. Is this not enough to convince people that these fuckers are lying elitist assholes, corrupted by power??

    You know, soon, people will just have nothing left to lose and anarchy will become the norm.

    But that's the plan, as if you are healthy enough to fight, this gives the police a reason to beat you up or even worse.

    I guess that's the plan. If they can't kill of enough sick people that they say they can't afford, the next step is to drive working people to the brink (happening now) and when crime and anti-social issues become overwhelming, they just hope that people will do away with each other. They won't have to kill anyone as they have made sure we all do it to each other.

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  10. Nearly 300,000 sigs and over 4000 in the last 20 minutes or so.