The following Hardest Hit letter featured in the Observer newspaper on Sunday:
“Every time Iain Duncan Smith’s Department for Work and Pensions reveals statistics on assessments for employment and support allowance, it highlights the people whose application failed – implying high levels of fraud and unnecessary claims. This fails to tell the whole story. Criteria for this benefit are incredibly high, while flaws in assessment mean many people with a significant level of impairment are declared fit for work. These statistics also overlook the fact that nearly four out of 10 appeals are successful and this rises significantly where the person has representation.
This partial picture feeds the tabloid media’s negative narrative on “benefits scroungers” and this in turn has an impact on employers’ perception of disability and disabled people. A recent survey found that 58% of disabled people thought others did not believe they were disabled and half of disabled people feel others presume they are not working. It found that attitudes towards disabled people had deteriorated over the last year.
We urge the department to present its next set of work capability assessment figures with balance and context, because their words have very real consequences.”
Jaspal Dhani CEO, UK Disabled People’s Council;
Steve Winyard Chair, Disability Benefits Consortium campaigns group