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Government under fire for misleading benefit statistics

Hands of Alan Fairbairn, who has Parkinson's, completing a benefit claim form

A report on Channel 4 News tonight revealed that the Government is under fire once again for using misleading statistics about assessments for its Disabilty Living Allowance (DLA) benefit.

The Department of Work and Pensions has a long track record of misusing statistics when it comes to the benefits system.

The report showed that 'more than 50% of decisions on entitlement are made on the basis of the claim form alone, without any additional corroborating medical evidence'.

This is despite claims by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) that its own statistics show that 90% of claims for DLA are backed up by medical evidence and assessment.

This was used as one of their key reasons for reassessing thousands of people on the DLA benefit for the new Personal Independence Payment (PIP) benefit instead.

The Department has admitted that these statistics are 'ambiguous and had not been rechecked by the Department's analysts as is the usual practice'.

PIP is a minefield

Tina Walker, 55, from Cornwall, was diagnosed with Parkinson's 8 years ago. She was awarded a lifetime DLA payment, but in the next couple of years she is facing the prospect of being assessed for PIP.

Tina says:

"I'm not going to get better and it's awful that they're doing this.

"The whole PIP thing is a minefield, and their mobility rules really worry me.

"We're only just managing to live day to day, only just manage to pay the groceries and the bills and we've got no safety net at all if we lose these benefits."

Our view

Steve Ford, our chief executive, explains:

"The Department of Work and Pensions seems to forget it is meant to be providing a service for sick and disabled people in genuine need.

"Using misleading statistics to justify switching from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the shambolic Personal Independence Payment (PIP) is simply a mechanism to deny many people access to the benefits they desperately need.

The DWP seems to forget it is meant to be providing a service for sick and disabled people in genuine need.

"The PIP benefit is turning into a fiasco – more costly to administer and less efficient.

"Worst of all it is causing unnecessary stress and anxiety because of a nonsensical plan to reassess those with a progressive condition to see if they have recovered.

"The Department of Work and Pensions has a long track record of misusing statistics when it comes to the benefits system.

"It's clear this was a tactic to vindicate further welfare cuts. 

"It is absurd that the Government was trying to imply that anyone going through the system had an easy ride."