The statistics regulator is refusing to ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for a key unpublished document that could finally show how many disabled people ministers expect to lose out from the move to universal credit.
It is believed that hundreds of thousands of disabled people will lose out financially by the time the rollout of universal credit (UC) is complete.
Ministers including Therese Coffey and Justin Tomlinson have repeatedly claimed that around one million disabled households will receive a higher entitlement under UC than they would have received under the previous “legacy” benefits system.
But every time they repeat the figure, they fail to say how many disabled households are expected to receive a lower entitlement under UC.
The most recent equality impact assessment, published nearly a decade ago, in November 2011, suggested that the number of disabled households gaining financially from UC would be at least matched by the number losing out (with about 800,000 households in each group), with disabled people who are out of work particularly likely to lose out.
But DWP has now told the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR) that the figure of one million households came from later “internal analysis carried out to look at the impacts of a proposed policy change”.
DWP is claiming that this analysis “did not estimate how many people would lose out in the move to Universal Credit”, but only those who would gain.
But despite DWP admitting the existence of this analysis, OSR is refusing to ask for a copy of the document to confirm its claims.
OSR’s role, according to its website, is to “support confidence in statistics by addressing harms and making sure that statistics serve the public good”.
An OSR spokesperson said that DWP had told it “that its analysis did not estimate the number of losers” and so it “cannot request information which does not exist”.
DWP has previously advised Disability News Service to complain to the information commissioner about its refusal to release the relevant documents under the Freedom of Information Act.
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