Have 230,000 sick and disabled people been wrongly knocked off-benefit and forgotten?

Claimants for inactive benefits and the economically inactive – inactivity benefits: This chart shows claimants of Employment and Support Allowance, and Incapacity Benefit (the red dots), compared with survey figures for the economically inactive owing to long-term sickness.

Claimants for inactive benefits and the economically inactive – inactivity benefits: This chart shows claimants of Employment and Support Allowance, and Incapacity Benefit (the red dots), compared with survey figures for the economically inactive owing to long-term sickness.

After all the government’s efforts to kick people off long-term sickness benefits, the number of claimants has risen – but statistics seem unable to account for nearly a quarter of a million people.

Even though Atos and now other private assessors are working hard to meet increased reassessment targets for Incapacity Benefit and Employment and Support Allowance, the government is paying out more money on these benefits – to around two million claimants.

This is a surprise for an administration that has been merrily throwing people off-benefit since it came into office, but it raises an important question: What has happened to those people?

In its January labour market report, the Centre for Economic and Social Inclusion said; “The number of the economically inactive who were long-term sick or disabled rose by 40,000… as did the benefit figure. The rise in the benefit figures shows ‘early estimates’ of benefit numbers.

“The rise in both ESA/IB claimants and in the comparable survey measure is a surprise given continued IB reassessment. The impact of IB reassessment on the total claimant numbers appears to be negligible as yet, although there remains some way to go with assessments and (particularly) appeals. This factor will need to be watched closely.”

You see, the expectation was for the figure to be much lower. We know from the DWP itself that benefit reassessments have been taking place at a rate of 11,000 per week, and the assessors have been finding 68 per cent of claimants ‘fit for work’.

This means that in the last year, the work capability assessment will have found 389,000 people ‘fit for work’ and kicked them off-benefit. Around 40 per cent of them – 155,600 – are likely to have appealed, in which case they will still be on the system.

So the number of claimants would have dropped to 1,806,600. We now have 2 million claimants. Some of them will be brand new; some of them may be re-claims. We don’t know how many.

The fraud rate is 0.7 per cent. Assuming all those people have given up pretending to be sick/disabled, that means 1,634 people correctly had their benefits cut off, while 231,766 were treated unfairly by the assessors

This suggests that a number between 191,766 and 231,766 people have been wrongly knocked off the books. Where are they?

Is there a fault in this logic? Or is this figure the reason the Coalition government, Department for Work and Pensions, and Iain Duncan Smith in particular will not release the mortality figures, showing the number of people who have died within six weeks of assessment/reassessment?

We don’t have enough information to know for sure, but the implications are terrifying.

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29 thoughts on “Have 230,000 sick and disabled people been wrongly knocked off-benefit and forgotten?

  1. rolandclarke

    I’m disabled and expecting an assessment sometime soon. Know that my situation would be untenable without DLA. So the implications are dire as lot of people are sicker than I am.

    1. Florence

      This isn’t about other people and how un/well they are. It’s you. It’s your life, and only you know how things affect you, hurt, inhibit, limit, and need financial support to get through each day.

      A JC advisor told me – and I quote – “tell them all about your illness, repeat it as often as possible, don’t expect they will read answer to Q1 and then apply it to Q2 and so on, keep repeating it. Describe your BAD DAYS. Don’t try & look like you’re coping & being brave.. They do not understand this. Explain everything, and never expect them to know how your illness works or how it affects you. Use extra pages.”

      Remember, describing your circumstances and how illness or disability affects you can seem like you’re moaning, but it’s not, it’s truth. Most of all, good luck.

      1. rolandclarke

        Thanks Florence. I will remember to tell them repeatedly when my time comes. Have to do it at the moment as other than my wheelchair my illness is invisible… to those who don’t want to see.

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  3. Joseph Smith

    Don’t think they’ve been forgotten, more likely to be disregarded and don’t count anymore. Now classed as sub human and simply now don’t exist or matter or count by the Fascists in this government.

  4. Barry Davies

    The real number is probably far higher, and it truly is a fascist state that does this just as the Nazi’s did in the early 30’s when they practised on this group for their means of getting rid of the Jewish population later.

  5. Florence

    Perhaps the “missing” include those who have fallen foul of the one year contributory ESA rule in the WRAG group. If you’re still not fit to work, after 12 months you are put on means tested ESA benefits – and all benefit is lost of anyone in the household works 16 hours or more. So if you’re only getting the shite, and no money……..

    I should imagine people on ESA WRAG for more than 12 months is a rapidly diminishing group, but not because they get better or get work. Sounds like a FoI, doesn’t it?

    I sincerely doubt anyone has been “wrongly” missed off the figures by the DWP, in the current regime. It’s all calculated and part of the deliberate smoke & mirrors to hide the truth about the withdrawal of the safety net, while getting the satisfaction of making disabled disappear into poverty, penury and (slow?) death.

    1. Mike Sivier

      When the 73-a-week death figure was calculated, that was taking into account only people who were put in the WRAG. This seems to be more about people who were thrown off-benefit altogether – the people who are never mentioned in DWP stats because they never follow up on these people to find out what has become of them.

  6. Pingback: Have 230,000 sick and disabled people been wrongly knocked off-benefit and forgotten? | Jay's Journal

  7. Thomas M

    This government is one of the lowest of the low, ruining the lives of disabled people whenever it can. As far as I personally am concerned, the only people who I can think of who would want to employ me are scammers who would want me to money launder for them.

  8. spriggsy

    Its bloody obvious where they are. The old incapacity benefit was paid regardless and never “means tested”. If you got IB and your partner worked it made no difference. Then ESA came along and after 365 days they means test it, and if your partner earns more than the minimum threshold of £161 a week then your ESA stops in full. You are both expected to live on that figure. This does not apply if you are placed in the support group of ESA in the first year of the claim, but most arent.

  9. Anita Bellows (@AnitaBellows12)

    It is an interesting question. What struck me in the 2 latest ESA stats produced by DWP is the huge drop in the number of reassessments. It is only at the reassessment stage that the number of claimants can be reduced. There will always be on-flows onto ESA with new claims, but if the number of reassessments drop, the number of off-flows will also drop. So my explanation is that there is a constant number of people making new ESA claims and being entitled to ESA (translated as an increase in the number of claimants) but with a drop in the number of claimants reassessed, the number of claimants disentitled will also drop.

    1. Barry Davies

      ATOS make their money by assessing claimants so for everyone they have to reassess or who has to start the process over and over they make more money, it is not in their best interest to do the assessments fairly so they don’t.

    2. Strontium Green

      The figure of 68% is out of date


      39 per cent of claimants were assessed as Fit for Work (FFW) and are no longer eligible for Employment and Support Allowance.

      I think the the time limited nature of Contributions based WRAG ESA is skewing the figures. After their year is up too many people are letting their claim lapse because they dont think it is worth it just for the NI stamps forgetting the fact that if their conditions become worse they could have been put in the Support group.

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  11. Pingback: Victims tell how they were unfairly knocked off sickness benefits | Vox Political

  12. Brett Castell

    Here’s one of the missing IB claimants.. tricked out of IB and income support in October 2012 – and ive received neither benefit since. When my carers allowance for our disabled son ended in January 2013, that was the very last time i received benefit of any kind whatsoever. Have continued as 24/7/365 carer to him and his mother without any financial support whatsoever, and both his and my ex’s dla claims ended due to ‘forms not being received’ despite us sending them in twice. Have just last month reapplied for both as both have the same conditions still, indeed our 5yo boy is undergoing his heart surgery in 12 days time and my ex’s physical and mental conditions have got dramatically worse. Myself still have the same but worse mental issues, compounded now though by physical pain rom a car accident and having to continue my duties as carer including lifting an adult to and from the toilet/bath etc. Am scared im wearing myself out tbh

    1. Mike Sivier

      That’s a justified fear. I get it myself sometimes (I’m also a carer, remember). I would strongly advise you to take the forms wherever they need to go and hand them, personally, to someone who gives you their name, in order to have proof that they were received (perhaps even go to the lengths of taking a photograph).

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