The DWP are trying to hide the truth about the collosal sums of benefits that go unclaimed by using endless statistical meddling as an excuse for no longer revealing this vital information.
Back in the days before the current government weren’t elected the DWP used to publish statistics on an annual basis showing the number of people who were eligible for a particular benefit but didn’t claim it.
The numbers were often used to embarrass the government by showing that far more people do not claim the benefits they are entitled to than falsely receive payments. They showed for example, that in 2009/10 that the amount of Jobseeker’s Allowance that went unclaimed was between £1.28 billion and £1.95 billion. Housing Benefits were under-claimed by between £1.85 billion and £3.10 billion, whilst out of work sickness and disability benefits were under-claimed by anything from £0.75 billion up to £2.04 billion.
Unfortunately, these figures – which were published by the Tory administration but cover Labour’s last year in office – are the last we have. In 2012, Iain Duncan Smith published a consultation on scrapping these statistics on the grounds that it would save some money and that no-one really cared anyway. The response to the consultation was clear – some organisations cared very much indeed. A host of think tanks, charities and academics condemned the plans and the DWP relented and agreed to continue publishing this information. Or at least that’s what they said they would do.
Initially the department said they would publish the figures for 2010/11 and 2011/12 in February 2014 and then didn’t. After four years of pretending to tinker with the statistical methods they were expected to finally publish the information this month. But they aren’t doing that now either. The latest news is that the statistics are “provisionally due to be published in May or June 2015”. Which conveniently is after the general election.
So after five years of welfare reforms we will not know whether the brutal cuts have made any difference to the number of people who take up benefits. We won’t find out whether sanctions and increased conditionality are driving people away from claiming unemployment benefits, or whether the vicious assessments for sickness and disability benefits are putting people off accessing the help they need when they are too ill to work. We won’t know what the impact of Universal Credit has been, or the changes to Housing and Council Tax benefits. We won’t know much very much at all, which is exactly what Iain Duncan Smith wants. Anyone would think they’ve got something to hide.
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