Tag Archives: UK Statistics Authority

Government Slammed By Regulators Over Misleading Homelessness Statistics

Soaring street homelesness much worse than even this say charities

This looks bad but it’s even worse say homelessness charities.

Government homelessness statistics due out next week have been slammed as ‘potentially misleading’ by the UK Statistics Authority after charities warned they were under-estimating the true scale of the homelessness epidemic.

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) produces three different sets of homelessness statistics and all have shown a rising trend in the number of those without a home over the last five years.   Two of these reports – statistics on how many people people have approached local councils concerned they are about to become homeless as well as figures recording the number of people sleeping rough – are released on an annual basis whilst the number of people actually accepted as homeless by Local Authorities are recorded on a quarterly basis.  This needs to change according to the Statistics Authority who recommend that all local authority statistics are released quarterly in a single publication.

The authority also questions whether rough sleeping statistics are truly an accurate portrayal pointing out significant difference between the number of street homeless people estimated in counts carried out by charities and those produced by Local Authorities.  Astonishingly rough sleeping figures are gained from a single annual street count managed at local level with councils able to opt out if they do not believe they have a siginificant number of rough sleepers.  Front-line workers in the homelessness industry have long warned that these counts are often fixed with police sent in to clear the streets of rough sleepers before the count takes place.  Sadly the UK Statistics Authority have not called for an examination of how widespred this practice is.

DCLG are now required to carry out an overhaul of rough sleeping statistics as well as provide an explanation of the methods used to collect these figures and the reasons why.  Basically, until a better system can be found, then DCLG have been ordered to add a disclaimer to the statistical releases saying that these numbers are actually a load of old bollocks so don’t believe a word of them.  Which no-one did anyway.

You can read the UK Statistics Authority’s asessment at: http://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/assessment/assessment/current-assessments/homelessness-and-rough-sleeping-statistics.html

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DWP Press Office Play Fast And Loose With Official Statistics Again

dwp-official-statisticsLast night the BBC ran a pitiful report which was little more than an advert for the welfare-to-work sector in which they begged the tax payer for yet more money.

The report was based on information from ERSA, the trade body whose job it is to lie on behalf of private sector poverty pimps like A4e and G4S.  The sector is whinging that they aren’t given enough money to find people jobs through the floundering Work Programme and that only 10% of sick and disabled claimants have found a job via the scheme.  Obviously, the industry claims this isn’t their fault.

Whilst it is shocking that the BBC should effectively provide a free lobbying service for a multi-billion pound industry, of equal concern should be the contempt shown once again for the role of official statistics by the DWP.

The figures used in the news report did not come from the DWP, whose role it is to provide statistics on the Work Programme.  They were leaked by the shabby cowboys in the welfare-to-work sector in a crude attempt to influence public opinion with unchecked,  unverified and very much unofficial statistics.

The truth is that these numbers are not really relevant to the performance of the Work Programnme.  The key measure of success is whether people are finding long term work on the scheme – and the DWP are dragging their feet on telling us whether that is the case.

With a range of benefit sanctions at their disposal, it is not difficult for the welfare-to-work sector to bully someone off benefits to take up a week’s temporary work.  But this means very little if they are back on benefits a fortnight later.  And, astonishingly, even if these statistics are accurate, then the job entry rates they are achieving are atrocious.  With long term unemployment soaring ever since the Work Programme began, it appears that even those finding work through the scheme are quickly replaced in the dole queue by someone else becoming long term unemployed.

Given the welfare-to-work sector are using these figures to beg for more money you might have expected the DWP to be at least a little bit pissed off that they are leaking unverified statistics to the media.  As the tweets above reveal, this is far from the case.  The DWP are using this industry information in a desperate attempt to mislead the public into thinking that the Work Programme is a roaring success.

The Code of Practice for Official Statistics is clear (PDF).  It is the DWP’s job to: “Issue statistical reports separately from any other statement or comment about the figures and ensure that no statement or comment – based on prior knowledge – is issued to the press or published ahead of the publication of  the statistics.”

Now the DWP may be unable to control ERSA, who appear to have been given free rein to bang out any old statistics they can cook up in the hope of more cash.  But they are responsible for their own twitter feed.  The Department has repeatedly been rapped over their misuse of official statistics by the UK Statistics Authority.  They don’t appear to have learnt a thing so don’t believe a word they say.

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Grant Shapps Is A Lying Bastard – Now That’s Official Too!

Grant ShappsInternet con-man and Tory Party chair Grant Shapps has become the second senior Tory to be accused of misusing benefit statistics by the UK Statistics Authority (UKSA)  in just one month.

Iain Duncan Smith was recently subject to a humiliating rebuke from the UK statistics watchdog after lying about the impact of the benefit cap.  Now it’s the turn of former get rich quick scammer Grant Shapps after he claimed that almost one million people had come off sickness and disability benefits rather than undergo the notorious Work Capability Assessment carried out by IT firm Atos.

Shapps’ claim was a shabby attempt to smear those with serious illnesses or disabilities as fraudulent, by attempting to claim hundreds of thousands of people came off benefits rather than face an assessment.  As pointed out by the chair of the UKSA, Andrew Dilnot, the figures Shapps used actually largely related to the number of new claims dropped before an initial assessment between 2008-2013.

Assessments usually do not take place until several months after a person has made an initial claim for out of work sickness and disability benefits ( now called Employment Support Allowance or ESA).  This means large numbers of claimants with short term conditions, such as a broken leg, go back to work before the assessment is complete and therefore end their claims.

The truth is that the number of claims ended before assessment shows that most ESA claimants are honest, and end their claim for benefit when they no longer need it  – the very opposite of what Shapps was attempting to suggest.

According to the New Statesman between: “March 2011 and May 2012, just 19,700 (somewhat short of Shapps’s “nearly a million) abandoned their claims prior to a work capability assessment in the period to May 2012”

It’s hardly surprising that Grant Shapps – a man who made his money running a string of spam websites under a false name – should be caught fibbing.  But what is even more telling is why he is fibbing.

Against a backdrop of disabled people facing soaring hate crime, Shapps is trying to whip up the mob by misusing figures which he claims proves most sick and disabled claimants are fraudsters like him.  Claimants who may have the most severe disabilities, life threatening or terminal illnesses like cancer or serious and complex mental health conditions. Claimants who are already having their lives plunged into chaos by the other changes to benefits such as the bedroom tax and council tax benefit reform.

It is not enough for Shapps and his Government to strip away what little financial security many sick and disabled people have with heartless and needless cuts.  He also seems to want claimants falsely labelled as criminals in not just the gutter press but also in the streets.

Download the letter from the UKSA  (PDF)

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Iain Duncan Smith Not A Lying Bastard Claims DWP

dwp-press-officeThe DWP have taken to twitter in a crude attempt to defend themselves from the accusation that Iain Duncan Smith has been misusing statistics.

Showing their utter contempt for the comments made by Andrew Dilnot, the head of the UK Statistics Authority, they are clearly attempting to show that Iain Duncan Smith was right in his conclusions about the impact of the Benefit Cap, despite the evidence saying the exact opposite.

Astonishingly the DWP then go on to re-iterate Mark Hoban’s claim that  “DWP staff & claimants (are) telling us cap is impacting behaviour & leading to those affected getting work”.

They also point out that everyone affected by the cap has been contacted by the Department.  The implication is that the DWP has some information on reports from claimants and DWP staff about the impact of the benefit cap.  These statistics, or reports, have not been published.

This is a shocking snub from the DWP which shows just how far they are prepared to manipulate the truth to defend the brutal welfare reforms.  The UK Statistics Authority has accused them of making claims about people finding jobs due to the benefit caps which are not supported by evidence.  The Authority has even warned they are breaching the official Code of Practice on for Official Statistics.

The DWP have responded that they have information, not yet published, which proves Iain Duncan Smith’s claims are true, despite the official statistics showing otherwise. This makes a mockery of independent regulation of government statistics. Even when they’ve been caught fibbing the DWP cannot bring themselves to back down and have instead launched a petulant attempt to defend Iain Duncan Smith’s lies.

There’s a petition about this, for those that do petitions, at: https://www.change.org/en-GB/petitions/work-pensions-committee-hold-ids-to-account-for-his-use-of-statistics-2

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Iain Duncan Smith Is A Lying Bastard – It’s Official Says UK Statistics Boss

Iain_Duncan_Smith_pissedA post on the Guardian Politics blog reveals that the UK Statistics Authority have accused Iain Duncan Smith of misusing statistics.

In response to a letter from the TUC, the head of body which oversees official statistics, claims :

“We have concluded that the statement attributed to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions that ‘Already we’ve seen 8,000 people who would have been affected by the cap move into jobs. This clearly demonstrates that the cap is having the desired impact’ is unsupported by the official statistics published by the Department on 15 April.”

The letter can be read in full on the Guardian website.

UPDATE:  The Chair of the Statistics Authority has also written to Iain Duncan Smith directly claiming that the statistics to not comply with the Code of Practice:

In the manner and form published, the statistics do not comply fully with the principles of the Code of Practice, particularly in respect of accessibility to the sources of the data, information about the methodology and quality of the statistics, and the suggestion that the statistics were shared with the media in advance of their publication.

In March, when considering a complaint about the handling of statistics on child support, I was told that senior DWP officials had reiterated to their staff the seriousness of their obligations under the Code of Practice and that departmental procedures would be reviewed.2 The Board of the Statistics Authority would welcome further assurance that the working arrangements within the department give sufficient weight to the professional role and public responsibilities of statisticians.

The letter can be downloaded at (PDF): http://www.statisticsauthority.gov.uk/reports—correspondence/correspondence/letter-from-andrew-dilnot-to-nicola-smith-09052013.pdf

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