Misrepresentation of disability benefit fraud
I was disappointed with Rod Liddle’s column in The Sun today (‘Pretend disabled’ really are sick, 26.1.2012). It is an unhelpful and misleading portrayal of disabled people, suggesting that large numbers of benefit claimants are ‘pretending’.
While it is absolutely right that the Government tackle benefit fraud, the Department of Work and Pensions’ own statistics highlight that the level of incapacity benefit fraud is only around 0.3%.
What’s more, Liddle’s assertion that ‘80 per cent of people who are claiming sickness benefit are actually fit to work’ is a misrepresentation of the latest figures released by the Department of Work and Pensions.
Employment and Support Allowance is for those people who have ‘limited capability for work’. The 80% that Liddle mentions includes those in the work-related-activity group of ESA. This is for those people who are not ‘fit for work’, but need considerable additional support to prepare to move towards work.
The article also makes no reference to the fact that such a high number of people are successfully appealing the decision to refuse them ESA, suggesting fundamental problems with the quality of the assessment process.
Only a few months ago, the Chair of the Commons Work and Pensions wrote an open to letter to the Minister for Employment, Chris Grayling, drawing attention to the way in which Government releases of official statistics about the reassessment process were covered in the media and urged greater care.
It appears lessons haven’t been learned.