Another complaint to PCC on benefits articles
by Sunny Hundal
February 4, 2011 at 5:54 pm
The online campaigning website Broken of Britain have lodged another complaint to the Press Complaints Commission over its coverage of disability benefits.
Last week the Daily Mail ran an article titled, ‘The great disability benefit free-for-all: Half of claimants are not asked to prove eligibility‘.
But the article was revealed as grossly inaccurate by several bloggers.
The fact-checking site Full Fact pointed out:
The Mail appears to have conflated the proportion of cases that don’t require the collection of ‘additional medical evidence’ with cases that require no evidence and no checks of eligibility. This does not follow when we look at the initial application process. It can hardly be claimed that half of claimants are not asked to prove eligibility since all claimants fill out an application form, although it is not clear what proportion of applications include evidence from a doctor at the initial stage.
Broken of Britain said this week that they would continue complaining to the PCC about the newspaper’s campaign against disabled people, and wanted to “show the Daily Mail that their tirades against disabled people will not be put up with anymore”.
This claim is not only grossly inaccurate and misleading, but is also a distortion and misrepresentation of the truth. There are no Disability Living Allowance claimants who have never been asked to provide evidence – filling in the long application form is a prerequisite of a successful claim. There are Special Rules for claimants who need their claim processed quickly – in cases of terminal illness, for example – but these rules only apply to 1.2% of the DLA caseload or 37,800 people.
In late January, Broken of Britain lodged a complaint to the Cabinet Office to investigate a transgression of the Ministerial Code by Chris Grayling.
They pointed out:
The title of this press release – Majority of people found fit for work as Government presses ahead with reforms” – is highly misleading. The figures given in the text of the press release are “Fit for Work – 39%”. This is far from being a majority. The first sentence of this statement is also problematic as the emphasis is placed upon “vast majority” and “fit to work”.
The only way to arrive at the “majority” mentioned in the title is to add the figures for those found Fit for Work and those whose claims were closed before the assessment was complete – the suggestion implicit in the opening sentence. However, there is no evidence at all that cases closed before completion of assessment equate to fitness to work, and it is a manipulation of data to do so.
They have also written to the PCC over the Daily Mail and Daily Express coverage of those remarks.
Let’s see if the toothless PCC or the Cabinet Office take these complaints with the seriousness they deserve.