Tag Archives: cumulative impact assessment

The government is not UNABLE to assess its policies’ impact on the disabled. It is REFUSING to do so

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]

[Image: www.disabledgo.com]


People who signed a petition calling for the Conservative Government to “assess [the] full impact of all cuts to support and social care for disabled people” have been told that the tools aren’t there to do the job. This is because the Tories have chosen not to use them.

More than 29,000 people have signed the petition, leading to a response from the Department for Work and Pensions. If it tops 100,000 signatures, it may trigger a debate in Parliament. Don’t get your hopes up – the evidence provided in these debates is routinely ignored by the government because it doesn’t want to know.

The DWP screed starts with some waffle about being committed to a “fair tax and welfare system” with the effect of each policy change “carefully considered”, in which “everyone contributes to reducing the deficit” and where “those with the most contribute the most”. Is that in money or percentage terms?

But it continues: “However, it is not possible, using the Government’s existing analytical tools, to produce a cumulative assessment of the impact of policies on disabled people.”

This is why a cumulative impact assessment published by Landman Economics and the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR), for the Equality and Human Rights Commission, recommended more than a year ago that the DWP should change its tools.

“HM Treasury has a world-leading distributional model, which it has used since 2010 to publish analysis of the impacts of policy decisions on households across the income distribution,” the DWP response states. “This model uses the Living Cost and Food Survey (LCF), which does not have information on disability status. It contains expenditure information which allows analysis of the impacts of indirect taxes such as VAT and fuel duty, and underpins a unique model of public service usage; both of these enable HMT to consider the impacts of all of the Government tax and spending decisions which directly affect households.

“As well as the inability to identify who has a disability in the data, most analysis of the impacts of welfare reforms tend to be limited in that they take static snapshots of benefit changes. Fundamental reforms are designed to support people into employment and will therefore enable people to generate more income for themselves. Analysis needs to take account of behaviour change of reforms rather than the more limited approach of focusing solely on benefit changes.”

(Of course we know that the reforms mentioned here do not support people into employment; they deprive people of the benefits they need to survive and force them into an unknown future. For example, a DWP study in 2012 found that more than half the people who had been told they were “fit for work” after a work capability assessment had been left unemployed and without any income at all. The Department had been forced to reveal the facts by – guess what? – a Freedom of Information request. This probably contributed to the government’s current attempt to curtail the use of such requests.)

“This analysis shows that the proportion of welfare and public service spending which benefits poorer households has not changed since 2010-11, with half of all spending on welfare and public services still going to the poorest 40 per cent of households in 2017-18. At the same time, the richest fifth of households will pay a greater proportion of taxes than in 2010-11 as a result of government policy – and more than all other households put together.

“The Government spends around £50 billion on disability benefits and services annually, and expenditure on sick and disabled people is higher than the OECD average. Welfare changes since 2010 have included protections for key vulnerable groups least able to increase their earnings, including those who need additional support as a result of disability. In the Welfare Reform and Work Bill 2015:
• Many disability-related elements of the benefit system are still uprated by the Consumer Price Index (but this is the lowest index of inflation. How is that supposed to be an advantage for the disabled?)
• The additional component for those in the Support Group of Employment and Support Allowance and Universal Credit (UC) equivalents has been maintained
• Households which include a member who is in receipt of Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, the Support Component of Employment and Support Allowance or UC equivalents are exempt from the benefit cap.

“Overall, reforms are focused on supporting people to find and keep work where appropriate. Growing evidence over the last decade shows work can keep people healthy as well as promote recovery which is why, as part of the Government’s objective to achieve full employment, it aims to halve the disability employment gap.”

There is no evidence to show that work makes people healthy; Iain Duncan Smith merely adapted the phrase “Arbet macht frei” from the gates of the Auschwitz extermination camp he visited several years ago to create a new lie. As for halving the disability employment gap: The Conservative Government has made sure there continues to be a large number of people without work, who now receive less money in benefit than they need to avoid going into debt. This means competition for jobs is increasing. Any employer faced with a choice between taking on an able-bodied worker and someone with a disability who will need adaptations and special treatment will opt for the former; it’s simply better business.

“Last year 226,000 more disabled people found work [how many stayed in it?] and to continue this success the Government has extended Access to Work to provide support to more disabled people in pre-employment, launched Specialist Employability Support to provide intensive, specialist support to the disabled people who need the most help and has extended Work Choice, providing tailored support to disabled people, to 2017. The Disability Confident campaign is working with employers to ensure that they understand the benefits of recruiting and retaining disabled people in work.

“Sickness Absence in the workplace is also a major issue, with employees off sick for four weeks or more being at greater risk of not returning to work. The Government recognises the importance of early support which is why Fit for Work has been developed; giving access to free, impartial work-related health advice to help employees on sick leave get back to work.”

This is the tyrannical scheme under which “fit notes” from your GP are refused and people are discouraged from claiming the Incapacity Benefits they need.

“In terms of Social Care and NHS reforms, the Government is committed to supporting the most vulnerable. The Care Act 2014 introduces a modern system to promote and maintain the wellbeing of those with care and support needs so they can live independently. This includes introduction of a new national eligibility threshold which allows local authorities to maintain previous levels of access for service users. This threshold is set out in Eligibility Regulations, and local authorities cannot tighten eligibility beyond this threshold. The Act also provides new legislative focus on personalisation by placing personal budgets into law for the first time for people and carers, increasing opportunities for greater choice and control, so that people can choose social care best suited to meet their needs.”

Shall we have a look at the Landman/NIESR cumulative impact assessment – the assessment the DWP says it cannot perform – and its recommendations for the Department, that could have been implemented in summer 2014 but weren’t? [boldings mine]

“Impact of tax, spending and benefit changes 2010-15

  1. The impacts of tax and welfare reforms are more negative for families containing at least one disabled person, particularly a disabled child, and … these negative impacts are particularly strong for low income families. This is not surprising, given the significant reductions to working-age welfare, and the high proportion of working age welfare spent on disabled people, particularly those on low incomes.
  2. Women lose somewhat more from the direct tax and welfare changes compared to men. This is mainly because women receive a larger proportion of benefits and tax credits relating to children, and these comprise a large proportion of the social security reforms between 2010 and 2015. It should be noted that these results are sensitive to the precise assumption made on the ‘sharing rule’ being used within households.
  3. Households containing younger adults do better than other households; although the impact of benefit changes is relatively uniform across groups, they benefit more from changes to direct taxation (the increase in the personal allowance) than any other group.
  4. In terms of public services (as opposed to tax and welfare), Black and Asian households lose out somewhat more than other groups. This is largely due to greater use of further and higher education, and (for Black households) social housing.

“Recommendations

“The main recommendations of the study are that:

1. HM Treasury’s distributional impact analysis of tax and benefit changes should incorporate analysis by groups sharing different protected characteristics in particular disability, ethnicity, age and gender. The analysis should:

  1. show the impact of tax and benefit changes by different groups;
  2. show the interaction between distributional impacts by income and by equality group;
  3. identify the key drivers of differential impacts; and
  4. identify the key assumptions made in producing the analysis and, where appropriate, present alternative assumptions.”

This was not adopted by the Treasury (or the DWP).

“2. HM Treasury should consider its approach to equality impact assessment for the next Spending Review (2015). In particular, it should:

  1. issue guidance to Departments on data collection and analysis;
  2. identify in which areas quantitative analysis of equality impacts is likely to be feasible and informative, focusing on key service areas (health, education, etc); and
  3. publish a detailed explanatory and methodological note to guide interpretation of distributional impact analysis (covering both income and equality issues).”

This was not adopted by the Treasury (or the DWP).

Your comments are welcome; the above is merely what This Writer could derive from the statement at first sight of it.

Undoubtedly many of Vox Political‘s readers will have their own observations about this DWP drivel.

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Do government e-petitions allow our voice to be heard – or stifle it?

141008epetitions

“e-petitions are an easy, personal way for you to influence government and Parliament in the UK. You can create an e-petition about anything that the government is responsible for and if it gets at least 100,000 signatures, it will be considered for debate in the House of Commons. You can find more information about how the House of Commons deals with e-petitions on the Backbench Business Committee website

That was a lie, wasn’t it?

How many e-petitions have been created since the site went up on August 4, 2011? How many of those have actually resulted in a House of Commons debate, let alone a change of government policy? Barring the WOW Petition debate, it’s hard to think of any. The debate on WOW’s forerunner, Pat’s Petition, only took place because Labour used one of its Opposition Day debates to get the issue aired.

According to this Guardian report, there were more than 1,000 visits a minute on the day the site went up – equivalent to more than 1.5 million visits a day. The site overloaded and went down in a matter of hours.

Would you like to know how many visits it gets now? At the time of writing, the top 12 petitions had received 189 signatures in the previous hour. The lowest-performing of those had just eight.

If those were the only petitions receiving signatures, then the average has dropped from 1,000 per minute to just three. Let’s be charitable and assume some other petitions have been signed. Let’s put it at five.

Why the tail-off?

Well, it’s hard to believe the spiel about influencing government and Parliament when a petition gathers enough signatures, wins a debate in the House of Commons, the vote goes the way the petitioners wanted… and then nothing happens. Nothing at all.

That’s what happened at the WOW debate. Vox Political ran a live blog on the day so you can read what happened for yourself. The motion was for a cumulative impact assessment into the effects on claimants of the Coalition government’s benefit ‘reforms’, and it was carried. Experts have explained to the government that such an assessment is well within their capabilities, but the government has denied these claims, despite producing no evidence itself.

Is it any wonder that people have lost faith in this system?

E-petitions were supposed to be a way for the public to influence Parliament.

Instead, it seems, they are a way for the government to sideline anyone who has a legitimate complaint about political decisions.

Alternatively, you might think this view is mistaken – so guess what? We’ll have another poll.

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‘In Memory of My Pop a WWI Soldier, who Fought for Honesty and Freedom’

 

Entrenched: Like the soldiers of WWI, our political leaders' thinking hasn't moved forward in decades - that's why they think it's all right to impose policies that lead to thousands of deaths.

Entrenched: Like the soldiers of WWI, our political leaders’ thinking hasn’t moved forward in decades – that’s why they think it’s all right to impose policies that lead to thousands of deaths.

Jayne Linney’s latest blog post starts off by discussing her relationship with her ‘Pop’, victim of a rogue grenade in World War I who spent much of his later life in surgery having shrapnel removed; clearly the centenary of the war has stirred memories.

As such, this piece might have been lightweight fluff to read and pass without comment. However…

Jayne writes: “We had endless discussions about right and wrong. I like to think he really heard me when I argued for Equality, but maybe he indulged me as his only grandchild, either way he listened, and even when we disagreed he never shot me down; he taught me to debate and for this, and everything else he was to me, I adored him.”

She continues: “Despite the pain he lived with for the next 70 years, he always demanded Truth; whether this be because he lived with the fact he suffered as a result of the lies sold by the ruling classes I can’t say, but knowing him I can’t help but think this is so.”

Now we come to the point: “In this week as I especially remember Pop, I read that  Lord Freud  has been proven to have Lied AGAIN, joining Mark Hoban, Esther McVey and Mike Penning  to become the Fourth DWP Minster to have Made the SAME LIE – Impact Assessment are Impossible.”

[This refers to the Conservative Party’s oft-repeated and utterly discredited claim that it is impossible to carry out an assessment of the cumulative impact caused by the Coalition’s many changes (we don’t dignify them with the label ‘reforms’) to the British system of social security. In fact, some organisations have already carried out unofficial assessments of their own, and one organisation that the government often uses for statistical work – I forget which one – has made it clear that it would like to carry out exactly such an assessment.]

“This default position of Lying when proven incorrect is unacceptable. The reality is the lies politicians spew out today are resulting in pain as did those told 100 years ago; and albeit in much lesser numbers, people are still dying as a result of the policies they lie about.”

Yes indeed. Look how far our Conservative and Liberal politicians have progressed since 1914. They’ve hardly moved forward at all – just like the trench warfare that spilled the blood of a generation 100 years ago.

Now they’re merrily spilling the blood of a new generation – and once again justifying it with lies.

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Cumulative effect of welfare reform revealed – deprived areas hit much harder than the rich

Deprived parts of Glasgow were worst-affected by 'welfare reform' according to The Courier [Image: thecourier.co.uk].

Deprived parts of Glasgow were worst-affected by ‘welfare reform’ according to The Courier [Image: thecourier.co.uk].

The headline should not come as a surprise – of course changes that cut benefits for the poor are going to harm them more than rich people.

But do you remember David Cameron’s claim that his government would be the most transparent ever?

Isn’t it interesting, then, that the independent Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has found a way to compile information on the effects of tax, social security and other spending changes on disabled people, after the government repeatedly claimed it could not be done?

It seems Mr Cameron has something to hide, after all.

We already have a taste of what we can expect, courtesy of our friends in Scotland, who commissioned the Centre for Regional Economic and Social Research at Sheffield Hallam University to study the relationship between deprivation and financial loss caused by “welfare reform”.

The study shows that more than £1.6 billion a year will be removed from the Scottish economy, with the biggest losses based in changes to incapacity benefits. The Scottish average loss, per adult of working age, is £460 per year (compared with a British average of £470) but the hardest hit area was impoverished Glasgow Carlton, where adults lost an average of £880 per year.

In affluent St Andrews, the average hit was just £180 per year.

Of course, the cumulative effect will hit the poorest communities much harder – with an average of £460 being taken out of these communities it is not only households that will struggle to make ends meet; as families make cutbacks, local shops and businesses will lose revenue and viability. If they close, then residents will have to travel further for groceries and to find work, meaning extra travel costs will remove even more much-needed cash from their budget.

For a nationwide picture, the EHRC commissioned the National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR) and the consultancy Landman Economics to develop a way of assessing the cumulative impact of “welfare reform”.

The report will be published in the summer, but Landman Economics has already told Disability News Service that the work was “not actually that difficult”.

Why, then have Mark Hoban, Esther McVey and Mike Penning, the current minister for the disabled, all claimed that a cumulative assessment is impossible?

Some might say they have a vested interest in keeping the public ignorant of the true devastation being wreaked on Britain’s most vulnerable people by Coalition austerity policies that will ultimately harm everybody except the very rich.

Some might say this is why the BBC – under the influence of a Conservative chairman – failed to report a mass demonstration against austerity by at least 50,000 people that started on its very doorstep.

Misguided conspiracy theorists, all!

Or are they?

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