Dear Esther McVey, Your ‘Facts’ Aren’t True!

A few weeks ago after a discussion on FaceBook a fellow blogger Jayne Linney, and myself decided to write an Open Letter to Esther McVey Mp and the DWP about all the misinformation and quite frankly all the twisting of facts and figures that has been coming out of the DWP here is the result … The dead line has now passed and the letter is now closed to signatures although you can view… The letter has also be sent to  the Work and pensions select  committee, and we hope to send it to the Independent and the Guardian… we are hoping to add to those trying to highlight the damaging misinformation coming out of the DWP. The letter has been copied below but you need to follow the link to view the signatures and comments… Dxxx

                           PlEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK TO VIEW -> Open Letter to Esther McVey

Dear Ms McVey,

We the undersigned have been shocked and appalled at your and your fellow Ministers’ persistent misuse of facts and statistics relating to Disability Living Allowance (DLA). We ask that you make correct use of the raft of factual statistics and desist from twisting evidence. Your misrepresentation presumes some sort of illegal activity by DLA claimants; this is particularly disturbing when the DWP’s own figures for fraud of DLA is 0.5%.

Referring to claims you and Iain Duncan Smith have made about a ‘rush to claim DLA before the introduction of PIP Jonathan Portes, director of the National Institute of Economic and Social Research and a former chief economist at the DWP, said:

‘it was part of a “consistent pattern” which threatened to undermine public confidence in official statistics.

“I think it is very unfortunate. These statistics are very important. Government analysts, economists and statisticians work very hard to produce them and they provide important information to the public,” he said.

“It is very important that ministers should not seek to misrepresent what those stats actually do or don’t show. That detracts from the public’s faith in the analysis produced by government statisticians.

“This is, I am afraid, a consistent pattern of trying to draw out of the statistics things which they simply don’t show.”’

No evidence for Iain Duncan Smith benefit cap claim, says research chief 13.04.13

Your persistence in stating that few face-to-face medicals and little or no additional medical evidence are required to obtain DLA, is untrue. The government’s own figures show that just 16% of awards relied on the form only and a mere 9% of DLA funding was spent on this basis.

Your claim that  DLA is awarded without a medical  is simply not true; many claimants have to undergo a face to face medical assessment as part of their application as the DWP website shows: Medical assessments- You might get a letter saying you need to attend an assessment to check your eligibility. Further, the DWP statistics report of November 2011 also clearly demonstrates medical examinations did form part of the assessment process for claims. Table 2:

Savi Hensman’s blog on the Ekklesia website also disproves your claims:

Government minister Esther McVey’s untrue claims about Disability Living Allowance

‘Disability Living Allowance is an “outdated benefit” for which “around 50 per cent of decisions are made on the basis of the claim form alone – without any additional corroborating medical evidence,” stated UK minister for disabled people Esther McVey on the BBC and elsewhere this morning (8 April 2013).

This is completely untrue – the government’s own figures show that just 16 per cent of awards relied on the form only and a mere nine per cent of DLA funding was spent on this basis. McVey was trying to justify the controversial replacement of DLA by Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from today, to be paid to fewer people.’

Savitri Hensman Ekklesia

The latest figure you used in your BBC interview,  that 50% of of claims are awarded without additional medical evidence being sought, may in fact be due to medical evidence being provided by claimants enclosing medical evidence such as letters from consultants and GP’s with their form..

You also state that 71% would “stay on it for life” without further assessments, but there have been no lifetime awards for some time now, so your statement made on the BBC on 8th April 2013 is misleading. The new term ‘Indefinite Award’ requires claimants to undergo reassessment at any time at the whim of the DWP. Is it therefore the fault of the claimant if the DWP fail to exercise that power? You announced a few months ago that DWP would not be testing those with indefinite claims at all until after the next election, even though Indefinite awards make up nearly 70% of all DLA awards and the government claim over and over that it is this group who have been “left to languish”; despite this, you have decided to do nothing about it at all before 2015.

‘She also referred to the claim that, under DLA, 71 per cent of people get support for life without checks. This, again, is misleading. The figure refers to ‘indefinite’ awards, which means that their period may vary according to needs. Recall is possible if circumstances change. This is appropriate. There are many people who have permanent and unalterable disabilities. Moreover, while benefit may be awarded for a non-fixed period, that does not mean it is necessarily ‘for life’. The total number who still get DLA excludes those who have had it on fixed awards and now no longer get it.’

Savitri Hensman Ekklesia

You have persistently used figures for the percentage of all DLA claims which are indefinite (71%) to imply faults in the DLA award process, when you are surely aware that it is the percentage of new claims which result in an indefinite award which is the relevant figure: this figure for 2010 was 23%. Full Fact have made this point very clearly: ‘Since the awards that are given for a fixed period inevitably come to an end, the proportion of the stock of DLA claims that are indefinite is higher. This Culmulative effect accounts for the overall proportion’. It is quite misleading to use the figure for the total caseload to imply that most people receive an indefinite award.

In the press you have continued to indicate the reason for the change from DLA to PIP is the rapidly accelerating growth in the number of DLA claimants, from an initial 1.1million to 3.3million since 1992 and up by 35% in the last ten years, a figure we do not contest. However, we would like to examine the context of the 35% rise (2009-2012); the reform of DLA will only affect working age claimants, with children and Pensioners being exempt from the changes (for now). Moreover there has been significant growth in the working age population since 2002. Without taking account of population change, the increase in the working age DLA caseload from 2002 to 2012 was 24%. Controlling for population change it was 15% (the percentage increase in the rate of receipt) – a figure which actually fell between 2010 and 2012. Why then do you persist in using the wholly inaccurate 35% figure, if not only to make your claim seem more urgent?

Sue Marsh co-author of the Responsible Reform Report states:

“…the government have consistently misled the public over the

new benefit, claiming a 35% rise when Spartacus Report showed clearly that the rise is only 13% for the working age group who will be affected. Physical conditions have remained totally stable, whilst the 13% rise is almost all due to a rise in mental health conditions and learning disabilities, a trend seen worldwide, not just in the UK.”

Sue Marsh, Diary of a Benefits Scrounger.

This brings us to another disturbing trend of recent weeks; statements being made by yourself and Mr Iain Duncan Smith MP, which strongly suggest people are rushing to claim DLA in order to avoid the new harsher PIP assessment criteria…

“We’ve seen a rise in the run-up to PIP. And you know why?

They know PIP has a health check. They want to get in early,

get ahead of it. It’s a case of ‘get your claim in early’.” IDS 8/4/13

Hufffington Post

And you yourself have similarly claimed…

The Mail on Sunday this week reported that McVey believed coalition plans to abolish working-age DLA had led to a huge increase in applications by people desperate to claim the benefit before it was replaced by the new personal independence payment (PIP), which will come with a tougher assessment.

The Mail on Sunday article – based on an interview with McVey – stated: “The decision to introduce new tests has produced an extraordinary ‘closing-down sale’ effect, with rocketing claims as people rush to get their hands on unchecked ‘welfare for life’ before McVey’s axe falls on April 8.”

A spokeswoman for McVey told Disability News Service (DNS) that, although she did not use the phrases “closing-down sale” or “welfare for life”, “everything in the article was a fair representation” of the interview.”

John Pring DNS

We have a number of  issues with these statements, not least of which is the fact that no one can escape the changeover to PIP; every single DLA claimant, whether they have been on it for many years or for five days will have to reapply for PIP in the next few years, so no-one will be able to ‘get ahead’ of it and any ‘last minute’ claim for DLA would simply delay the inevitable. Ergo the suggestions in your statements that recent claims are an attempt to escape PIP appear convoluted and without foundation.  Our assertion is further supported by Declan Gaffney and Jonathan Portes, in an article in the Guardian 15th April 2013 which states:

So what happens if we look at new claims, or indeed the total caseload, for those (between 16 and 64) who will be actually affected by the change? In fact, both fell, in both regions, between those two dates. These falls – well within the normal quarterly variation – tell us little, except to show conclusively that Duncan Smith’s statements are supported by no evidence that he has offered whatsoever.

Declan Gaffney also states in another article on Tuesday, 9th April 2013, analysed statistics produced at which appear to refute these statements.

“I presume Mr Duncan Smith has some basis for this claim, but it’s not supported by the published data on DLA. The changes only affect people of working age, so I’ve charted the number of claims by people age 16-64 with a duration of three months or less, using the data available on Nomis. A sudden increase in people claiming should show up in these figures: I don’t see it. On the contrary, the latest figures are the lowest on record.”

Given our concerns outlined above we request that you officially retract your recent comments with regard to DLA and PIP and issue a fairer balanced statement, based upon accurate data and one which maintains the integrity of Ministers in Government. We request you include the facts that PIP only applies to working age DLA claimants; that there was an increase of only 15% in overall working age claimants, from 2002 to 2012, entirely driven by an increase in claims related to mental health and learning difficulties, that the overwhelming majority of new awards (77%) are fixed term and are based on more than the evidence included in the application form (86%), that there has been no significant rush to apply for DLA whatsoever and that the rate of DLA receipt for people of working age has actually fallen.


56 Comments Add yours

  1. agewait says:

    Injustice Anywhere is a Threat to Justice Everywhere – Ms Mcvey, No Lie will last forever; and there will be NO Nuremberg Defence for all those involved in the Crime against the Vulnerable, the disabled, the poor and the fragile. You have sown the wind, you will reap the whirlwind.

  2. Beth says:

    Our ConDem government, Ms McVey and ministers have continuously verbally attacked the most vulnerable in our society. This is a sickening, continuous attack on people unable to defend themselves must end.
    The current government and it’s MPs should hang their heads in shame for the unjust, unfair, proven ‘Not Fit for Purpose’ system they have introduced to withdraw sickness/disability benefits.

  3. Katherine Fox says:

    My husband is on an indefinite award for DLA and has been re-assessed twice.

    Please add my name and that of my husband, Maurice Fox to the letter.

    1. ravenswyrd1 says:

      If you click on the highlighted link ‘Open letter to Esther McVey’ it takes you to a google doc, scroll down and type your name at the bottom… Thanks Dxxx

  4. Gordon Chubb says:

    No mandate to Rule .No mandate for Cruel. No mandate to change the rules.

    No Mandate to Lie and cheat the poor and Disabled. I would say McVey and IDS should be ashamed but they have NO SHAME. There are statistics but they would just twist and spin till we get dizzy.

  5. Reblogged this on Carole… and commented:
    Please click on the link ‘Open Letter to Esther McVey’ to add your signature to this letter.

  6. alanplace says:

    I am on Indefinite allowance owing to an inherited condition called Ehlers Danloss syndrome. EDS means I have poor skin content and scar easy. Recently I ruptured my left Achilles tendon and owing to the condition I can no longer walk more than the length the length of two beds without support.

  7. Barbara says:

    To claim that many claiming DLA do not send any supporting evidence is also misleading in the sense that evidence sent is often separated from the actual claim form either by accident or design. Claim forms are opened not by the DWP themselves but by a postal service which often looses evidence. This also brings into question that of medical confidentiality. Ester is so wrong on so many levels.

  8. Fantastic letter. Esther McVey has become Minister AGAINST Disabled People, not For them. The rhetoric and lies from her and the Coalition are disgusting and we need to counter them.

  9. Jonathan Arnesen says:

    The misuse of statistics for political gain is wrong, to use false information in order to create a negative image of the disabled shows that both Smith and McVey have no integrity. They are both unfit to hold a position in government if they are prepared to use such practices to turn the country against people who are the weakest in society.
    These repeated incidents of misinformation must be investigated and those responsible should be brought to task.

  10. Sue says:

    “In the press you have continued to indicate the reason for the change from DLA to PIP is the rapidly accelerating growth of DLA claimants up by some 35% in the last ten years, from 1.1million to 3.3million, a figure we do not contest” I don’t understand these figures. A rise from 1.1 to 3.3 million is a lot more than 35%! Is there an error there? Or is my maths that bad?

    1. Sarah says:

      Of COURSE it’s a lot more, Sue! It’s 66% – any idiot can work that out just by looking at it!

      1. Sarah says:

        And I’m an idiot! The brain isn’t working! That’s the IDS effect! I’m also VERY tired. It’s tripled, so it’s risen by 300% (or the difference is 200%).


    2. ravenswyrd1 says:

      These are the Figures Ms McVey used… Dxxx

    3. ravenswyrd1 says:

      I have slightly re worded this paragraph because it is obviously confusing the 35% rise is not the 1.1mil -3.3ml its a recent rise in claimes… Dxxx

  11. Mike Sivier says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    Here’s another blog article about government statistical misinformation – coming so soon after my own ‘Mathematics, mathematics, mathematics’ article, it is easy to see a theme developing here.
    This article refers to the way information has been twisted by DWP minister Esther McVey and the government, to make the change from Disability Living Allowance to the Personal Independence Payment – and the damage that will do to many claimants who will no longer qualify for support – necessary.
    The evidence seems clear. Any administration that has to distort the facts in order to win an argument should not be allowed to continue with its plan.
    The article calls for like-minded people to sign an open letter to Ms McVey and the DWP. I urge you to do so.

  12. Mike Sivier says:

    I rise in claimants from 1.1 million to 3.3 million is 200 per cent, not 35 per cent. Could you double-check that? You don’t want this letter to be rubbished by the DWP on the basis of inaccuracy!

    1. ravenswyrd1 says:

      That’s the figure Esther McVey is using… Dxxx

  13. rainbowwarriorlizzie says:

    Reblogged this on HUMAN RIGHTS & POLITICAL JOURNAL and commented:
    In Solidarity!!

    1. ravenswyrd1 says:

      Thank You… 🙂 Dxxx

  14. pat says:

    Esther McVey is my MP, i wrote to her many times re the bedroom tax, as i am affected, she does not give a dam, about the poor, the sick, the disabled, roll on 2015 when the coalition gets kicked out, you thatcher wannabe

    1. pat says:

      previous comment should of read McVey you jumped up thatcher wannabe

    2. Robert says:

      I would rather the coalition fail as soon as possible. We cannot wait until 2015 as they can do too much damage in that time. However, this government behaves totally unethical and if they are all lucky to live to a ripe old age, I would not wish to be in their shoes when they finally curl up their toes. If they haven’t cot a conscience now, it will certainly bite them in you know where when they breath their last breath.

  15. Peter Thomson – having previously taken the DWP, NHS Pensions and War Pension Agency through the Chancery Courts to secure legal standing for my mix of health issues (as each tried to shift blame to the other). I am not looking forward to my turn under the new assessment program and going through all the crap I endured between 1993 and 2002 all over again.

    We have a Government shifting the goal posts so they can include a retrospective review which previously they could not do under law. Westminster is becoming increasingly ‘fascist’ in its dealings with the electorate of the UK, Westminster has failed as a democratic institution and the current lies and propaganda being generated by Westminster have more in common with Geobels and the Nazi Workshy Programs of 1934 and 1938 than people are aware.

    Please add my name to the letter.

  16. Chris Wintle says:

    I wonder how many people know that any appeals for ESA in Sheffield are held at the Magistrates court – I always thought you attended a magistrates court if you had done something wrong – all people have done is become ill through no fault of their own – just WHAT sort of society are we living in in the year 2013?!!!!!!

    1. brenda barr says:

      A tory society hun, no money an u a nobody

  17. Helen Cooper says:

    The DWP are pathetic they are getting all there facts and figures wrong. These medicals are a laugh (NOT) People with Disabilities have medical reports sent in from the GP’s and specialists are they calling them liars by making ppl go for the medicals with ppl who don’t know anything about there past or present medical history. The forms are somewhat outdated if they ask for back up letters from gp’s and other form of medical information from specialists this should be enough. Don’t you think that if the drs and consultants that see to the disabled people could lose their jobs if they lie about peoples illnesses. I personnally think that these medicals by ASOS is a waste of time when alot of disabled people have medical backing from there specialists. It is disgusting and it is discriminating to say the least. Yes I agree with this letter they do need to get there facts straight before disciminating against disabled people. It is disgusting.

  18. Elizabeth Rodgers says:

    I think that any thing that is quoted by politicions should need to produce proof from an independant sourceamd if proven to be lies they should be fired as that is whatwould happen to a working person in a job especially as it is consistent lies

  19. reblogged o whatisthisukbollocks – excellent m8 :o) x

  20. brenda barr says:

    This so called government are dusgusting dont have a clue and basically dont give a ****, your a nobody unless own ur own home, earn mega bucka an claim expenses. Get them out before they ruin r once glorious country forever.

  21. Barbara says:

    Ha ha ha, Ester lost her seat……I love it.

  22. Yvonne Harvell says:

    Fraud and error is -.5% Error is usually on the DWP’s side

  23. Thea Mcnamee says:

    I wud akso like to add to mr duncan smiths fabricated figures ..fir the million of supposedly pple that are able to work would he like to tell us whete a million jobs are!!!!! Thus man needs licked in to reality of life of the normal person. .there is no smaller houding to move into and there is no bloidy jobs out there fir ppl that can wirk let alone ppl that cant yet we get penalised for these things thst are no fault of ours but the giverment continue toget secondhouses free and an alliwance for ckeaners foid ttravel exeeding thousands!!!!!! this man exoects ppl to live on 57 pounds a week…wake up mr duncsn smith ..put ur money where ur mouth is! !!!!

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