The government has admitted failing to carry out any statistical analysis of the results of its controversial disability living allowance (DLA) consultation.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) was accused earlier this month of misleading parliament and the public about the scale of opposition to the government’s DLA reforms.
In Responsible Reform – otherwise known as the Spartacus Report – disabled activists had analysed the 523 responses to the DLA consultation that were submitted by disabled people’s organisations, disability charities and other groups.
Lord Freud, the Conservative welfare reform minister, reacted to the report by stating that these group responses only made up 10 per cent of replies to the consultation, and ignored nearly 5,000 individual responses.
In a letter to peers, Lord Freud claimed: “All consultation responses, over 5,000 individual submissions, have been thoroughly and appropriately considered in the government’s analysis and have been used to inform the design of the new benefit and supporting processes.”
But when Disability News Service (DNS) asked DWP how these 5,000 respondents replied to the questions discussed and analysed in Responsible Reform, a DWP spokesman said that “not all respondents chose to answer the specific questions asked”.
When asked how those who had answered the questions responded, the spokesman said: “We don’t have those figures, I’m afraid.”
And when asked why those figures were not available, he said: “If you look at the questions asked they were what/how type questions and were analysed thematically and not statistically.”
But several of the consultation questions asked by the government required simple yes or no answers, such as: will having two rates per component make the benefit easier to understand and administer, while ensuring appropriate levels of support?
Another yes/no question was: should the assessment of a disabled person’s ability take into account any aids and adaptations they use?
But DWP claims it failed to carry out any basic statistical analysis of these and other answers.
Sue Marsh, one of the authors of Responsible Reform, said DWP’s admission cast even further doubt on its DLA consultation.
She said: “Lord Freud was very clear that they had analysed all of these responses and if he can’t back up his claims you have to question his response.”
Marsh said she was frustrated that the government had refused to engage with any of the key issues raised by the Spartacus report.
DNS revealed last week that disabled people’s organisations were becoming increasingly angry at the government’s failure to listen to their views on issues such as DLA reform, despite its frequent references to how it is “co-producing” its reforms with disabled people.
And the disabled Labour MP Dame Anne Begg is to examine the government’s failure to respond to the Responsible Reform report in an inquiry being carried out by the work and pensions select committee, which she chairs.
26 January 2012