Tory claims on disability criticised by watchdog

The Conservative Party chairman, Grant Shapps MP, has been criticised by the official statistics watchdog for making misleading statements on incapacity benefit claims. Shapps had said in March 2013 that: '878,300 people claiming incapacity benefit – more than a third of the total – have chosen to drop their benefit claim entirely rather than face a medical assessment'.

Replying to a complaint from a Labour backbench MP, watchdog head Andrew Dilnot pointed out that the figure quoted by Shapps appeared to conflate official statistics relating to new claimants of employment and support allowance with official statistics on recipients of incapacity benefit who were being migrated across to employment and support allowance. Dilnot also referred to official government research suggesting that an important reason why employment and support allowance claims were withdrawn or closed before they were fully assessed was that the person had recovered, and either returned to work or claimed a benefit more appropriate to their situation.

Source: Letter to Sheila Gilmore MP, 29 May 2013, UK Statistics Authority
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Publication date: 
May 29 2013