Congratulations are due to Sue Jones for her insightful dissection of the Tory survey of PIP claimants, conducted with expertise that This Writer simply doesn’t have.
She exposes several flaws in the process – most serious of which is the fact that claimants who were not awarded PIP were not contacted to answer the survey’s questions.
Coupled with this is the fact that those who were contacted and did answer were recipients – meaning that they may have, either consciously or unconsciously, answered in a way that they believed would please the DWP bosses who pay their benefits.
Fear has been a motivating factor in the Department for Work and Pensions since the early days of Iain Duncan Smith’s incumbency there.
So, what’s to be done?
This Writer would certainly suggest that the survey’s findings should be called into question.
I think we should demand another survey, possibly on lines devised by Ms Jones, as her article makes many strong cricitisms of the methodology used here.
This is still a good start – even if only because its flaws could lead to something more revealing in the future.
The Department for Work and Pensions Claimant Service and Experience Survey (CSES) is described as “an ongoing cross-sectional study with quarterly bursts of interviewing. The survey is designed to monitor customers’ satisfaction with the service offered by DWP and enable customer views to be fed into operational and policy development.”
It seems that no-one has examined the validity and reliability of the survey cited, it has simply been taken at face value. It’s assumed that the methodology, intepretation and underlying motives are neutral, value-free. Objective. In fact the survey has been described as “scientific” by at least one Conservative MP.
The respondents in this survey had active, open benefit claims. This may have had some effect on their responses, since they may have felt scrutinised by the Department for Work and Pensions. Social relationships between the observer and the observed ought to be assessed when performing any type of social analysis and especially when there may be a perceived imbalanced power relationship between the organisation and the respondents.
Those people with reason to be very dissatisfied with the Department for Work and Pensions and PIP process – those who haven’t been awarded PIP, for example – are not included in the survey. This introduces a problem in the survey called sampling bias. Sampling bias undermines the external validity of a survey (the ability of its results to be generalised to the entire population, in this case, of those claiming PIP.) Given that people who are not awarded PIP make up a significant proportion of the PIP customer population who have registered for a claim, this will skew the survey result, slanting it towards positive responses.
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