Thursday 3 February 2011

More Mail Lies

Not contented with their hugely untrue story about Incapacity Benefit last week (see Sue's analysis on her own blog), today the Mail are going after DLA claimants with a story massively deficient in facts.

Half the 3.2million people on disability benefit have never been asked for evidence to back their claims, it emerged last night.

The DLA application form (link at the bottom of this page) is 39 pages long. The DWP ask your GP for info, your "carer" (if you have one) for info and many people add supplemental information from consultants. A hell of a lot of people are called in for a medical carried out by Atos. And, of course, many cases go to a tribunal in which case reams and reams of supporting evidence is required.

In addition, nearly a million people have been on disability living allowance for at least 14 years, a Government analysis of claims for the benefit revealed.

That's incredibly surprising. Surprising because I'd have expected it to be slightly more. Most impairments don't just vanish. Amputated limbs don't grow back. Snapped spinal cords don't heal. My own Osteogenesis Imperfecta has been present since I was conceived and will never go away. In fact as I smash up more bones and joints I'll only become more impaired. I would hazard a guess that the majority of DLA claimants who cease needing DLA do so because they died.

Cuts to DLA, which is meant to help people who have specific mobility or care needs and cannot do things such as walk or wash and dress themselves, have been criticised by charities and Labour MPs.

However, ministers say figures showing how the benefit ballooned under Labour – and has been paid to people for years with no checks – demonstrate an urgent need for reform.

Since DLA was introduced in 1992, and since Labour came to power in '97 there have been massive medical advances. These mean that premature babies that wouldn't have survived in the past now do, but they're often left with cerebral palsy and other impairments. More people survive horrific accidents and illnesses like cancer, but are left permanently ill or impaired and require help with getting around or personal care. We should take pride in our great health service that the number of disabled people is increasing because people can survive things that were previously fatal.

Of those, 31 per cent – almost a million – have been claiming for 14 years or more, while 46 per cent have been on the benefit for more for ten years.

I've been on DLA since it's inception in 1992. No-one told my genes that the Daily Mail thinks there should be a 14 year limit on being disabled.

The problem is there is no system of review. People can be given the benefit and no one checks if they still need it.'

More than two million people on DLA have been given indefinite awards, which means they have no further contact with officials about whether they still need the benefit.

What part of "a disability is for life, not just for Christmas" do the Mail not understand? Oh, that's right. It's not about facts, it's about whipping up disablist harassment (which the Mail will then report in a faux horrified manner).

I have an indefinite award. My bones will never stop being brittle. My bones will never stop hurting. My smashed up joints will never become unsmashed. My tendons and ligaments will never stop being like overstretched elastic bands which fail to support my joints while Mail journos will continue to have steady tendons and ligaments like sturdy pieces of string. Why waste DWP time and money having officials contact me to see if anything's changed?

Some people do have conditions that might improve, for example mental health problems which may respond to drugs and/or talking therapies. Such people are not given indefinite awards, they're given awards for limited periods e.g. 3 years or 5 years. Indefinite awards only go to those of us who have no chance of ever improving.

The Government now wants all claimants to undergo periodic medical tests to justify the payments. Ministers propose to end the automatic right to DLA, worth up to £70 a week for care and up to £50 a week for travel.

What a brilliant idea! Why not waste more money on bureaucracy? According to this source DLA medicals cost the government either £51.37 or £77.33. The government actually wants to throw away that money every year or three years just for a doctor to look at me and say "her skeleton is still crap"? Less than a hundred pounds to declare someone as having not got any better may not seem like much money, but if they're spending £77.33 annually on the 3.2 million claimants of DLA? That's a cost of £247,456,000.

As for automatic entitlements, there are only 6. One of the entitlements is "terminally ill and not expected to live more than a further 6 months." Once that automatic entitlement has ended you can be sure the Mail will be outraged at dying people not getting benefits.

And it's not up to £50 a week for "travel;" it's either £18.95 or £49.85 for "help with getting around." I'm sure the Mail wouldn't consider getting from bed to toilet as an exotic adventure but if someone needs to use their £49.85 to fund a wheelchair then that might be the extent of the travelling they're doing.

The article finishes off by inaccurately talking about the removal of the mobility component of DLA from people resident in care homes:

A group of 27 organisations for the disabled has warned against plans to axe the mobility part of DLA, which it says will hit 80,000 care home residents unfairly.

Which makes it sound like the mobility component of DLA is being removed, full stop, but that care home residents will be the most severely affected. That is not the case; people like me living in our own homes will get to keep our mobility component (for now, anyway).

Care homes are pretty bleak places, just have a read of this article by Johann Hari about his experiences with his grandmother while she lived in a home. At the time of the announcement in the CSR @beccaviola tweeted that having her Motability vehicle while she was stuck in a care home was the thing that stopped her killing herself.

Jen from Aylesbury has commented at the bottom of the article that:

I am afraid its the scumbags and scroungers that make things bad for everyone

There are almost no scumbags scrounging DLA. Have a look at the DWP's official figures for DLA fraud on page 8 of this document. The fraud rate for DLA is 0.5% and the only benefit with a lower fraud rate is retirement pension. There's only the perception of a massive rate of fraud because of rags like the Mail printing inaccurate articles like today's.

Last year a study found that those who watch Fox News are the most misinformed Americans. It'd be really nice if I could sit here and say that Mail readers like Jen are the most misinformed Brits but, sadly, the idea that benefit fraud is a massive problem has even been fed into the minds of people who really, really, REALLY should know better.

Edit: Rhydian at the Broken of Britain has put together a template message to send to the Press Complaints Commission about today's Mail article.

Edit 2: The folks at have taken apart the stats used in the Mail article


  1. every time i read something like this it scares me, really scares me, because people really do believe what they are reading in these trash papers. and why should you be made to feel like a scrounger becasue youre ill? shocking, and upsetting, if truth be told.

    great blog x

  2. Really, I'm just disgusted that papers are allowed to whip up discrimination and spread misinformation and misleading interpretations like this?

  3. Brilliant piece, thank you. I love your clear and matter-of-fact statement of your situation; it's very affecting and powerful. Also the following is quoted for truth:

    "According to this source DLA medicals cost the government either £51.37 or £77.33. The government actually wants to throw away that money every year or three years just for a doctor to look at me and say "her skeleton is still crap"? Less than a hundred pounds to declare someone as having not got any better may not seem like much money, but if they're spending £77.33 annually on the 3.2 million claimants of DLA? That's a cost of £24,7456,000."

    It shows that there is more going on here than attempts to save money. Personally I think someone is holidaying on someone else's yacht, but maybe that's just me.

  4. I think you should edit this and send it to the Guardian, Lisa. It should be read by the mainstream.

  5. Plus the more they refuse people the benefits that they were entitled to before the more people will appeal...that in turn will in time cost the Government FAR FAR more in the long run than simply leaving things as they were ever would.

    I'm hoping that the more red tape, publicity and delays we throw at them means they will eventually see that this is wrong and stop.

    Instead of taking a palty few quid off the needy to 'save money' they should be concentrating on the bankers that owe millions and those sneaky slimeball tax dodgers that live on more money per week than most ever see in a lifetime but still think that they are exempt from paying what taxes they owe.

  6. I've posted something very similar at

  7. Scary stuff that sadly Joe average will believe. I fully expect my dla and ESA to be taken away. Having schizophrenia means my illness and wellness fluctuates wildly from day to day with no warning. I don't have a broken bone to show people, just a broken mind in a broken life and a fear I'll be on the streets and scrabbling in bins for food,

  8. "What right has the Daily Mail to hound people? The owner is a nom dom, and the company is avoiding taxes through offshore tax havens. I doubt all the sick that you are persecuting through innuendo cost the taxpayer more than you through tax avoidance." ~Commentor to latest DM Lies

  9. i have had to comment on this anonymously because im useless with the internet.. no idea wat a url is. i was given DLA. till 2013.. im now 57.. i think i was only given till then because i think the gov hopes... i will be dead by then... i will never ever get better.. ever. i just wish that some legal representative would come forward and sue the likes of this paper on behalf of ALL disabled and sick claimants.. it disgusts me that any respectable newspaper would print such lies and trash.. as the bbc have programmes like saints and scroungers... its absolutley disgusting at the way genuine claimants are being treated..

  10. Just read my comment back...

    "Personally I think someone is holidaying on someone else's yacht, but maybe that's just me."

    Just me thinking, NOT just me holidaying. I wish :D

  11. I'm frightened all the time these days. I was involved with anti-cuts campaigns, but I've had to stop because it was only making the fear and anxiety worse. Besides which, it was suggested to me that doing something like that when my turn comes to be assessed by Atos would go against me. My DLA is a 3 year award. I could get better, I hope I do. I have a bi-polar disorder, a back problem I can't spell and osteoatheritus amongst other health issues that all add up.

    Its been a long time since I was able to work. I had hoped that maybe soon, something part time, close to home, maybe.... but the more scared I become the less able I am to function in a way that would make work feasible. My mental health is worse now than it has been for awhile.

    Worry about the future, about benefits, about whether or not I will be able to stay in my home are the fist things I think about when I wake up and the last things before I sleep.

    I worry about what other people think. They make jokes about bad backs and scroungers and I wonder if they mean me.

    I don't know what is going to happen to me and I am so afraid.

  12. I'm also on DLA for a combination of long-term depression and epilepsy. the depression meds make my epilepsy worse, my epilepsy meds "can cause depression". there's certainly a high correlation between the 2 conditions.
    sometimes i'm not too bad - not too bad as in not actively suicidal, self-harming or finding life so difficult i just want to not exist - but when i'm really bad, i don't feel safe enough to leave the house, sometimes not even my bed. After a seizure - well, how do you expect to feel after your brain's been scrambled? unable to cook (because i can't remember the recipe), sometimes in too much pain to move (ever had a hangover? multiply by about 10, and you haven't even had fun the night before.
    i'm scared - i can't cope with a phone-call to my mortgage company without bursting into tears, i find it difficult to leave the house, everyday things like getting to the toilet can be difficult, and i CAN'T cope with stress. am i fit for work? who'd employ me? i want to get better, and i hope i will, but i can't while the DWP stands over me, stick metaphorically in hand, trying to push me further than i can cope with.

  13. I'm in the middle of a DLA application right now. I was originally told when I first had to give up working seven years ago that I wouldn't get it, so I didn't apply.

    But I'm just more wise to the DWP and their wily ways now, so I'm giving it a bash. They've already saved a fortune, not giving it to me while I've scrimped and saved and been made more ill having to watch every penny.

    I still have my mental health problems, but therapy and hard work has helped and I'm keen to try retraining and getting back to work and DLA would help financially with that (so I can afford to travel and eat at a volunteer position I've been a trainee benefits advisor!)

  14. I have M.E. Osteoarthritus, Irritable bowl and Depression, I am in constant pain and now have DLA indefinitly but that was after going to a tribunal when I was turned back after my first application, and that was just with my M.E. and depression the other things have come on since then(I guess I should have told them of any change in my health)

  15. Absolutly spot on. Also having OI, as does my daughter, you have said exactly what I wanted to say but do not have the eloquence or writing skills to do so.

  16. I have just (yesterday) been awarded higher rate mobility and care, nearly 14 months after my initial application. I had to go to tribunal first off, at which I got lower rate care. This was 8 months in and my health had already declined a great deal (EDS, chronic migraines and vertigo and POTS), so I applied to have my award looked at again on the basis that I had gotten worse. They refused a change in award after a further 3 months, so I asked them to look at my application again. They finally deigned to contact my GP and specialist this time and actually award me HRC and HRM.
    But my award is only for a year, as apparently my genetic connective tissue disorder may magically go away.

  17. Unfortunately,these types of vomit inducing propagandist lies will be periodical placed in the supine media as the conversion to PIP unfolds- watch out for "25% of people found NOT to be disabled and have been stealing x billions from the taxpayer(no matter it is not an out of work allowancea mere detail to the Mail) over the last x years" I do not receive the allowance, am not disabled and I feel sick by such articles.

  18. All the while the press slag the disabled of what is NOT being put out there in the news. Dont trust any of them in government, over the years they have all said one thing before getting elected then turn the screws. Unfortunately its the ill and disabled, no matter what age,gender or whether the disablement is genetic, accidental or through the result of being in a war zone. None of us will get a fair deal or any consideration when the powers to be have finished with the battering ram of atos etc etc etc etc!!!

  19. The disabled and benefit claimants in general are unikely to get a fair deal from the national media, owned as it is by the very same tax dodgers who Joe Public would be raging at if they understood the true position. Bad-mouthing benefits claimants is a useful diversionary tactic for the wealthy tax-dodging media owners who no doubt consider the use of such tactics as just another day at the office :-)


  20. While I agree in principal with what you have said, on the flip side I know several people who I agree are disabled in some way but were happily employed until the DLA came in at which point they found that they could get the same money if not more by claiming and not working so promptly gave up work and have not worked since

  21. @Anonymous (the most recent one):

    DLA is not an out of work benefit. It is to cover the extra living costs of being disabled and is available irrespective of your employment status (despite what rags like the Mail claim in an attempt to incite harassment).

    Which means that if these people you know gave up work in order to receive more on benefits then they weren't too smart because they would've received their wages PLUS their DLA on top.

    What I suspect is that they gave up work because they became too ill to carry on and you, with your Daily Mail reader goggles on, presumed it was to milk the state.

    Ignorance like yours is precisely why we need to challenge these lies in the press.

  22. im a disabled person i fear that cameron and clegg lead colition will take every person off this benefit i suffer rhumatiod arthritis cpod iscimic heart diseace vascul muscular diseace spondilosis reflux i.b.d .this coalition worry me that they are set on removing disabled people off these benefits i was awarded this for life indefinately do we have any rights to fight what they intend doing human rights any thing ..

  23. The only 'scumbags and scroungers' are in the ConDem coalition. They and their families have been scrounging off the poor for generations.

  24. I think it is safe to say tha it is a useful diversion, attacking the sick & vunerable while no doubt quaffing champagne over dinner!

  25. I have oi(brittle bones). I have had this from birth. I worked as a hairdresser for 17 years on and off. When i had my little boy, i could'nt carry him and had about four breaks.He came 6 weeks early and was born in the orthopaedic ward.That was in 2007, my knee is not stable and my left wrist is deformed and so is my elbows. Istarted claiming dla in 2008 after alot of thinking about it.I it but comes with a price! I'm no longer seen as me but someone who is milking the system.

  26. I have just come across this article. As an oi sufferer, diagnosed at birth, i suffered numerous fractures/breaks as a child, they began to cease when i reached around 13. Although the breaks seemed to stop the twists and sparins did not. Anyways, to cut a long story short, i worked for 9 years in an office job from age 20 within that time i only really suffered with a broken wrist, foot and damaged coccyx which was good but then in Feb 2010, i broke my left femur and knee, badly. I was operated on, screwed and plated up & obv had very limited mobility for months, i then broke my foot 8 months later, it wasnt a bad break but meant my 'good leg' wasnt so good now and i still wasnt 100% on my left. Anyway, i had the plates and screws removed from femur in Feb this year which meant i could start some more physio etc, i was making steady progress and looking for work (i ws made redundant whilst on sick with the femur injury) and then in Sept this year i slipped and not only smashed my forearm but also shattered the left knee again, both requiring yet more surgery and metalwork and i have since been told my knee will now need replacing. After feeling a bit low and not knowing what to do after so many in injurioes in such a short space of time, i thought i'm going to apply for DLA as my sis with OI recieves it. After waiting 3 months for a decision, (i applied as soon as i got home from hospital) i have had a letter today saying a Doctor is coming to give me a medical on Monday 19th. I am worrying now as my sis didnt have any of this and was accepted straightaway. Surely the medical records from even just the last 20 months speak for themselves....advice would be appreciated as i'm starting to feel like a bad person for applying!!