Sunday, 27 April 2014
Ilegal . org . uk Calls for IDS to sink under his dodgy stats
Seriously, IDS is getting away with blue murder and it's time he was seriously challenged.
In the previous two posts I've drawn attention to what I consider to be a major inconsistency in the DWP's Employment & Support Allowance statistics. By major I mean major as in three quarters of a million.
This is the latest figure I've unearthed by making a simple comparison between two sets of DWP statistics. The two I compared were:
The DWP Work Capability Assessment statistics which crucially tell us (1) How many claimants have been found fit for work and (2) How many claimants stop claiming without an assessment. These figures tell us lots of other things but for the purpose of this latest comparison only (1) and (2) are relevant.
The DWP 'off flow' statistics which tell us how many claimants have come off Employment & Support Allowance ever since it first started in October 2008.
It is to me logical to base an assumption (there are exceptions which for now I would ask you to put on hold) that those found fit for work and those who have ended their claims as shown in the Work Capability Assessment statistics will translate in to a minimum number which I would expect to see in the off flow statistics.
What these figures show is that the actual numbers of claimants is far less, by over three quarters of a million, than the assessment figures suggest.
This discrepancy highlights, to a considerable extent, the enormity of a problems which exists within the Employment & Support Allowance assessment programme. These figures show that despite the purported assessment outcomes. 2.1 million claimants remain entitled to Employment & Support Allowance rather than over 2.8 million claimants being removed from their benefits as implied by the assessment statistics.
What these figures show is a huge disparity between the 2,882,500 claimants identified as moving off Employment & Support Allowance in the assessment statistics and the 2,125,830 shown in the claimant figures as the real number of claimants who ended their claims - a difference of 756,670 claimants. It's not a figure which IDS can easily explain away.
It should also remembered that the higher figure of 2.8 million is very much a minimum baseline because it only relates to findings at or near the point of assessment. Many more will have ended their claims for all kinds of other reasons, these won't be picked up in the assessment figures but the higher the figure the greater the three quarter million discrepancy. This is because the actual numbers ending their claims is a figure depicted by the DWP's actual records of claimant's movements on and off the allowance.
So why haven't 756,760 ESA claims ended as depicted in the assessment statistics come off the allowance?
Unfortunately I can't pretend this isn't complex and something which can be easily followed by all, none the less I'll try and put it over in a way which I hope followers will understand.
The assessment statistics show a total of 2,882,500 claimants who have come off ESA between October 2008 and June 2013. Of these we know for certain that 1,393,700 are claimants who have ended their claims before an assessment. Once these claims are ended they come to an end, there's no going back so this is a firm figure which is non - reversible.
Instead of deducting the 1,393,700 closed claim figure from the assessment total, we can deduct it from the actual numbers of claimants who have closed their claims. This means deducting the figure from 2,125,830 which gives us 732,130.
What's strange about this is how it very firmly bites in to the numbers the DWP say have been found fit for work. We can safely deduct the 732,130 (because we know for sure all closed claims before assessment would definitely have ended their claim) from the 1,488,800 claimants found fit for work - a difference of 756,670. The reason we can safely deduct from the fit for work figure is that it is reversible - it can be changed after the assessment results by people appealing or asking for reconsiderations.
The irrefutable fact is that despite whatever the fit for work figures say around 50% of claimants are not in fact ending their claims at all, if they were the overall number of closed claims would be much, much higher. So something very substantial isn't adding up.
The only explanation to this three quarter of a million discrepancy is that the 1,488,800 found 'fit for work' figure has been changed to one of two different status:
(1) The claimant has appealed and their appeal is still ongoing (which is why they do not come off the allowance). This is possible under the Employment & Support Allowance rules up to October 2013. Upon electing an appeal, the claimant moves/stays in the Assessment Phase up until their appeal has been heard.
(2) The claimant has appealed and the appeal has been decided in their favour in which case the claimant remains on Employment & Support Allowance within either the Work Related Activity Group or Support Group.
Cases which the DWP depict in the assessment statistics as 'still in progress' can be eliminated from the possibility that they contribute to the three quarter of a million figure because I have excluded them from the calculation.
So how is the 756,670 figure made up?
In dealing with (1) by looking at more DWP statistics we can ascertain that in May 2013 there were 70,940 ESA claimants of 'unknown' status and 490,260 in the Assessment Phase. All of these claimants will either be awaiting an assessment or will have been found fit for work and appealed, there is no other way of being placed in the Assessment Phase. There is no way of distinguishing between the two.
In dealing with (2) we can look at separate records held by the Her Majesties' Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) to see how many claimants had successfully appealed up to June 2013, the majority of these will be appeals against fit for work decisions.
The DWP maintain in the assessment statistics that they only had been able to retrieve data from HMCTS Tribunals relating to 125,600 ESA appeals overturned in the claimant's favour. I would however suggest that the three quarter of a million discrepancy paints a very different story.
The way to get to the root of this is to look at the Tribunal overturns shown below:
The figure of 260,269 is well above the 125,600 recorded in the assessment statistics and would therefore appear to suggest that the DWP have updated all of the 260,269 overturns in the claimant count.
If we deduct the 260,269 from the 756,670 figure we arrive at 496,401
which more or less mirrors the 490,260 in the Assessment Phase in May 2013. So it is possible that these will represent a fair number who have appealed.
Can we simply say of the 756,670 figure; 260,299 are the claimants who have had their decisions overturned and the remaining 496,401 are in the appeals process?
The answer is no.
Because of the 2,125,830 number of claimants who have definitely ended their claims (as shown in the off - flow statistics) a fair number (not fully disclosed by the DWP) will have ended their claims in either the Work Related Activity or Support Group of their own accord.
The more claimants who end their claim of their own accord, the higher the number will be of fit work decisions which have either been overturned or appealed (because these claimants remain on ESA and will not show as off - flows).
The other consideration is that the DWP are overturning far more decisions from fit for work to entitled at the reconsideration stage than they are currently conceding to.
The fact is there is a three quarter of a million discrepancy between those identified in the assessment statistics and those actually coming off ESA.