Saturday, February 12, 2011

Today’s Express, Mail, Sun and Telegraph all wrong on Incapacity Benefit

Published by Declan Gaffney, February 11th 2011,

Over the last few months, Left Foot Forward, along with Full Fact and Touchstone, has been critical of misleading press stories about the benefit system and those who depend on it based on figures released by the Department for Work and Pensions – in some cases released confidentially to selected journalists.

A reprimand from the Statistics Commissioner has led to some improvement in transparency in DWP’s handling of evidence, but the problem of misleading reporting hasn’t gone away. While inaccurate stories may in some cases be attributed to failures on the part of journalists, the fact is that if government doesn’t want the figures it is releasing to be distorted, it can take steps to ensure this doesn’t happen.


The Telegraph headline read:
‘Two in three benefit claimants are fit for work’

With the report stating:

“That means roughly 70 per cent of those claiming money on the grounds that they were too sick to work were in fact capable of holding down some form of paid employment.”

The evidence for this assertion comes from the first results from the pilots extending Employment Support Allowance to existing claims for Incapacity Benefit and incapacity-related Income Support.

In fact, as the DWP’s press release shows, the reassessment found that 71 per cent of claimants were not ‘fit for work’. How did the Telegraph, Mail, Sun and Express get it so wrong – and get it wrong in exactly the same way? Read more>>

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