Government told to improve release of ‘fitness to work’ figures

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Government told to improve release of ‘fitness to work’ figures.

Government’s 'misleading use of statistics' has encouraged some tabloids to run stories that accuse disabled people of being 'scroungers' and 'shirkers'.

23/08/2011

The government has been told by the UK Statistics Authority, the official statistics watchdog, to improve the way it publishes information about its controversial ‘fitness to work’ assessments.

Critics believe the government’s presentation of government figures, has encouraged some tabloids to run stories that accuse disabled people of being 'scroungers' and 'shirkers'. Serious concerns were raised about the media’s coverage by Anne Begg, Chair of the Commons work and pensions committee, in a letter to the Minister of Employment. A coalition of 50 disability charities also wrote condemning the government’s misleading use of statistics.

Having reviewed the Department of Work and Pensions’ (DWP) release of Work Capability Assessment (WCA) figures, the UK’s Statistics Authority (UKSA) wrote to Anne Begg MP, saying that the release of statistics ‘could be improved in a number of respects’ and was ‘not as clear as it could be’. The Chair of UKSA’s letter indicates that the DWP failed to make it clear that those placed in the ‘work-related activity group’ had been found eligible for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), as a result non-experts could believe that the number of people found eligible for ESA was lower than it actually was. The DWP also failed to point out that 40 per cent of those who appeal against their ESA claim being rejected are successful.

A copy of Sir Michael Scholar’s letter has been sent to employment minister Chris Grayling.

Sir Michael Scholar, Chair of UKSA’s letter is available to read below.

The Select Committee Chair’s letter to the Minister for Employment is available at: www.parliament.uk

Disability Benefit’s Consortium’s letter is available at: www.disabilityalliance.org

Sources: Disability News Week www.disabilitynewsservice.com

 

Read Sir Michael Scholer's letter 11/08/2011