The Department for Work and Pensions rides (roughshod over the facts) – again!

Iain Duncan Smith demonstrates the size of the Department for Work and Pensions' latest exaggeration of the truth. He seems to think it's comparatively small!

Iain Duncan Smith demonstrates the size of the Department for Work and Pensions’ latest exaggeration of the truth. He seems to think it’s comparatively small!

Here’s a fascinating letter to Jay Danielle Waller from her MP, which she posted to the Facebook page of The People Vs The Government, DWP and Atos, describing it as “full of rhetoric and LIES”.

Let’s go through it together and pick out some of the choicer morsels.

“Thank you for your email. To be frank with you with regards to your first point, I am afraid I will not be demanding a vote of no confidence against the Coalition government. The reforms that are being implemented are absolutely necessary and absolutely right given the utterly disastrous legacy we inherited from the last government.

“Our reform of welfare is not just about cost-cutting (although our annual welfare bill does amount to over £160 billion a year) [£159 billion, in fact, of which 46 per cent is the State Pension – £73.14bn. Meanwhile, just three per cent – £4.77bn – goes on Jobseekers Allowance] but we are restoring confidence to a system which caused many thousands of people to be better off by sitting at home and claiming benefits rather than encouraging them to get up and going to work – this is simply not right [The problem isn’t that people are claiming benefits – it’s that there aren’t any jobs. A survey by Unison found there are four jobseekers for every vacancy in the UK. More than 1,700 people applied for eight jobs at Costa Coffee in Nottingham]. And it is for that reason why we have implemented an annual benefits cap of £26,000; gone are the days when families can claim up to £100,000 a year in Housing Benefit alone! [Ah, but how many families were ever able to claim such a huge amount? I’ll give you a clue: five. Last year, only 30 families in the UK were claiming more than £50,000. Housing benefit totals 14 per cent of the welfare budget – £22.26bn – and 90+ per cent of claims since the Coalition came to office have been made by working people, with an extra 10,000 claims made every month, last time I checked] I hope you appreciate that these reforms are tackling a something-for-nothing dependency culture which flourished during the years of the last government. [The MP provides no evidence to substantiate this claim]

“Your point about ATOS is an interesting one. Whilst I understand that some mistakes are reported and it is only right that they are rectified, [according to a debate last year, 38 per cent of decisions are appealed, and 38 per cent of those appeals are upheld – costing £26.3 million in judicial costs at last check] the actual process is something I support. It is also only right that recipients are required to demonstrate they should still receive payment and not to do so would undermine public confidence in the welfare system as a whole. The current Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) which ATOS administer were actually designed and developed in 2008 to be implemented in June 2010. These assessments have received universal support from all three major parties. [Shame on you, Labour! SHAME!] Another interesting note is that since ATOS began testing current Employment Support Allowance (ESA) recipients, almost 900,000 voluntarily refused to take the test and have since had their payments stopped. This raises a pretty important question: how come these 900,000 were in receipt of the benefit in the first place? [They weren’t – this is probably the most despicable part of the letter. The figure he quotes is the ‘natural wastage’ figure of people who claimed, in accordance with the law, and then either got better, got a job they could do despite their illness or disability, or died – therefore they stopped claiming the benefit before taking the test. It is also worth noting the high number of people who are kept in pre-assessment limbo by the DWP and Atos – the longer they are left with no award, the more likely they are to stop their claim] According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) many [how many?] were claiming for ailments such as acne and a rather ambiguous ‘bad back’.

“Your final point about the NHS is one which I have heard many times before. There are numerous myths and falsities surrounding our reforms which need to be corrected. Firstly, NHS spending is increasing in real-terms in each year of this Parliament. [A lie. Andrew Dilnot, head of the UK Statistics Authority, has demonstrated a real-terms cut in NHS spending since the Coalition government took over] Indeed, the former Labour Health Secretary, Andy Burnham, famously called any real-terms increase in spending “irresponsible.” [He said he would protect levels of spending] Secondly, we’ve also seen 6,000 new doctors and 7,000 less managers since May 2010, lowest waiting times in history and almost the total abolition of mixed-gender wards. This is opposite to the Labour-run health service in Wales where there have been deep cuts in health spending [They love talking about Wales, where the Labour-run administration must make the best decisions possible on how to spend the rapidly-decreasing allowance it receives from the Coalition-run Westminster government – a real-terms funding cut of £2.1 billion. In Wales, there has been no reduction in frontline staff, especially nurses, unlike in England].

“I’m afraid for the reasons stated above I am unable to accept your sentiments or your request that I demand a vote of no confidence against the government. While my reply may not satisfy all of your concerns, I sincerely hope I have at least explained my reasoning.

“Thank you once again for getting in touch. It’s always interesting to hear my constituents’ issues and concerns. If I can be of any more assistance with this or any other matter – local or national – please do not hesistate to get in contact again.”

That was fun, wasn’t it? It shows the level of deception the Coalition government is trying to foist upon us – a level also highlighted in a New Statesman article, ‘Lies, Damn Lies, and Department for Work and Pensions Statistics’.

This gorgeous piece starts by quoting The Economist (!), which has described the DWP’s statistical output as “raw sewage”. I urge you to read the rest for yourself.

Now, fellow blogger Jayne Linney, together with Debbie Sayers, has launched a petition on the website, demanding that Iain Duncan Smith be made to account for his – and his department’s – questionable use of statistics.

“As two disabled people affected by the benefit changes, we’re fed up with the spin,” they wrote in a joint statement. “That’s why we’ve started a petition on calling for Iain Duncan Smith to be held accountable for his use of statistics which, according to reports, is in question. Click here to sign.

“Iain Duncan Smith needs to realise that what he says affects people. We live everyday with the reality of the benefit changes and it’s awful to keep hearing people like us portrayed as scroungers. Worse, it’s not the only the only misleading thing that Iain Duncan Smith has said. He was recently criticised by the former Chief Economist at his own department for spreading misinformation about the impact of welfare changes.”

The petition can be found here.

I strongly recommend that you visit the site, sign it, and hold this pathological liar – and his department of pathological liars – to account.

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25 thoughts on “The Department for Work and Pensions rides (roughshod over the facts) – again!

  1. Mike Sivier

    Because much of what comes out of the DWP seems to be self-serving nonsense intended to enable the government’s friends in private sector organisations to profit from the plight of jobseekers, and because I really want people to help stop the hidden patronage and sponsorship of MPs by organisations with a business interest in Parliamentary decisions – this may be a good place to urge readers to sign my e-petition on the government’s website, calling for MPs to be banned from speaking or voting on matters in which they have a financial interest – to take the corruption out of Parliament.

    Here’s the link:

    Please sign!

  2. Bob Howie

    IDS lied about his CV how can you trust anyone who lies to get a job, if we do it, we are out on our ear, he gets promotion!
    Jobs for the boys, pure and simple

  3. smurfinator

    what’s really beating me is that they’ve been in now for what, three years? Isn’t it about time they quit playing the ‘blame the last government’ game?
    our credit rating has only dropped because of Gidiot and his inability to count to potato.
    They’re not winning any brownie points for what they’ve been doing and notice how they’ve waited for that ‘fallow’ year to do the dirtiest of the alleged ‘cuts’? (I’m talking the bedroom tax, the tax cut for millionaires and the outing of alleged pedos from the world of stage/screen, selling off the NHS and whatever else they could get. I mean, if it really was that bad for them, why wait until now?)
    Nice move Tories… I’m watching this play out and I’m not liking it. On top of which, I’ve not had a great day either, I had an Atos ‘medical assessment’ this morning that bordered on being a major farce!
    So, when this ‘government’ mans up, takes a paycut, admits errors, collects taxes and closes loopholes, and they hang their heads in shame, I’ll believe them… right now, they’re making sure I don’t have any belief in them whatsoever.

  4. craig

    Here is a post i had published on the Huffington Post

    There will be no more benefit system left soon if the Tories and their muppet sidekicks are not kicked out of office soon.

    Only we can do this and the sooner the better.

    I have been self employed for over twenty years an have probably only been off sick a few days hear and there in that time.

    For the past three months i have not been able to work due to a double hernia,which required an operation two weeks ago.

    I was given a medical note from the hospital stating six weeks recovery

    Today i learned they have stopped my sickness payment because i was did not spend more than one night in the hospital and have been deemed fit to work by the joke of a profession Atos Healthcare who`s specialized medical examination consisted of me holding my harms out at arms length, turning my hands front and backwards,grabbing an object has hard as i could and trying to touch my toes (WHICH I COULD NOT DO).


    I have been told that points are deemed up to fifteen of which i received zero.

    The only other option i have been offered is that i can appeal or go onto Jobseekers Allowance but then the lady i was speaking to said SHE HAD A COPY OF MY MEDICAL SICK NOTE and would not be able to seek Jobseekers because i was not fit for work. WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    So fit for work Atos / jobcentre plus not fit for work my Doctor,NHS

    Whilst i agree many people on benefits should not be on them and something has got to be done about it, the medical given by ATOS is so easy that even someone who is disabled would have no problem in doing the majority of so called TESTS i had to do.

  5. guy fawkes

    These petitions I am told do not have to be accepted by your mp, those that are are ignored by government and would exempting those with interests from voting only reduce their time and work. Perhaps MP’s should be banned from becoming an mp if they have business interests in the first place that could compromise them in any way.

    1. Mike Sivier

      There’s a petition (government e-petition; not one to an MP) calling for exactly such a ban at the top of the comments column – I hope you’ve signed and shared!

  6. Glynis

    It was all in the tory manifesto, it always is, they despise the Welfare system that cares for others because they don’t need it and they can’t understand why anyone would if they don’t!!
    They have already sold off some of the profitable bits of the NHS and more will go as soon as they can slide it through without anyone knowing. For one thing, is it theirs to sell? Last time I looked it was for the benefit and welfare of the country NOT for self serving politicians to sell off to their mates!!

  7. guy fawkes


    Your epetition calls for mp’s with self interests that could colour their voting to be banned from voting on certain issues, not for those with business interests to be banned from being an mp in the first place – there is a difference and the latter should be the order of the day, otherwise those with many fingers in many pies could have lots of free parliamentary time abstaining from voting or even sitting in meetings making their position as an mp untenable.

    1. Mike Sivier

      But then there would be no point in them being an MP. Their voting and attendance are recorded and if they fall below a certain level, it’s possible to chuck them out of Parliament. It would indeed make their position as an MP untenable, and would in fact make it impossible for such people to become MPs (in my opinion).

      I don’t think our views are mutually exclusive here – if you think you’d have more success with your idea, put it forward!

  8. guy fawkes

    You can sign and put forward epititions until your blue in the face,but who then upholds or rejects them, parliament does and turkeys don’t vote for xmas,
    MP’s will either not vote for such a petition or if they did would refuse to declare their interests if they think that it would prevent them from being or keeping their jobs as mp’s.

    1. Mike Sivier

      If they don’t support the measures in the petition (which seem reasonable to many of those who’ve read it), then they will be SEEN not to support them – and that’s a vote loser. “Why is my MP supporting corruption?” people will ask.

      If they refuse to declare their interests, that is against the rules and they would face financial penalties or expulsion, if I recall correctly. Possibly even legal action.

  9. guy fawkes

    so who will then declare an mp untenable because he has too many vested interests that is preventing him from sitting or voting on committees.

  10. guy fawkes

    I wrote to the parliamentary standards about the behaviour of my mp and got a reply from a Lord someone or other who exonerated him completely even though he was way out of order, so much for accountability.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Now, that is very interesting. If it had been a Conservative or LD, I would have expected a whitewash. As far as Labour is concerned, I remember a spate of prosecutions over expenses claims at the beginning of the current Parliament – those would have been instigated by the Standards Commissioner.

      I would agree that this particular office needs a good jolt to get it going, and I think ‘people power’ will perforce need to have a lot to do with that. But the mechanism is there and, rusty though it may be, it needs to be used.

  11. guy fawkes


    My complaint was to do with our mp’s agressive behaviour when I went to see him at his constituency surgery, and it was when labour were last in power.

    1. Mike Sivier

      If it was intimidating or threatening to the point where you feared violence, that’s a police matter, of course. The Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards is looking at financial irregularities, corruption, failure to make proper declarations of interest etc.

  12. guy fawkes

    He was verbally agressive and calling the police would have only seen him lying through his teeth as he did to parliamentary standards – whether in parliament or their constituencies they should be accountable for their actions and behaviour.

    1. Mike Sivier

      I agree with that. I suppose the problem was that, without physical evidence of assault (which doesn’t have to include battery – the physical act of attacking someone) or corroborating evidence from a witness, it’s hard to build a case against someone who is taken to be an upstanding citizen simply because of their job.
      It is a great shame that, it seems, we must take a friend to a private consultation with our elected representative these days, simply to ensure that they behave properly.

  13. guy fawkes

    How true mike, I learned this lesson the hard way, plus the fact that some politicians lie through their teeth to save themselves.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Yeah. It happens on all sides of the political spectrum because it’s not a political problem but a personal one. You can get bad apples in any barrel, no matter what kind they are.

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