Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Call for Investigation of Chris Grayling

Depending on whether your choice of paper is the Daily Express or the Daily Mail, you
will have seen that either 75% or 94% of Incapacity Benefit claimants are fit to work. On the off-chance that you read neither of these esteemed organs, you are urged to read these reasoned and informative debates.

We have long known that these newspapers (the term is used loosely) have set themselves up as the anti-scrounger tabloids and the only surprise is that ther is no matching headline in The Sun. We also know that the Press Complaints Commission - being a toothless, haggard attempt at industry self-regulation - will
not defend disabled people labeled as spongers, scroungers, workshy and variations on this theme. That said, The Broken of Britain is considering its options where misleading reporting is concerned.

However, the articles linked to above cannot be reported to the PCC as they are closely based on a press release issued by the Department for Work and Pensions yesterday. In, fact, they could be described as accurate summaries of this press release.

The Broken of Britain have asked the Cabinet Office to investigate a transgression of the Ministerial Code by Chris Grayling MP, Minister for Employment, in particular, and politicized statements issued from the Department for Work and Pensions in general, on the following grounds.

There are multiple example of politicized press releases and misleading Ministerial statements from this Departmen in recent months, and I will readily provide examples if required. However, this press release issued on 25/01/2011, including a statement by Mr. Grayling is a clear example.

The title of this press release - Majority of people found fit for work as Government presses ahead with reforms" - is highly misleading. The figures given in the text of the press release are "Fit for Work - 39%". This is far from being a majority. The first sentence of this statement is also problematic as the emphasis is placed upon "vast majority" and "fit to work". The only way to arrive at the "majority" mentioned in the title is to add the figures for those found Fit for Work and those whose claims were closed before the assessment was complete - the suggestion implicit in the opening sentence. However, there is no evidence at all that cases closed before completion of assessment equate to fitness to work, and it is a manipulation of data to do so.

This title and opening sentence has lead to newspaper stories closely based on this press release claiming that 75% (Daily Express) and 94% (Daily Mail) of Incapacity Benefit claimants are fit to work, damaging the integrity of disabled benefit claimants.

The press release continues by saying that: "The official statistics, published today, demonstrate why Ministers are determined to reform the welfare system and press ahead with the reassessment [...]". The reasoning behind this determination is unclear, as only 39% of IB claimants are found fit to work, and it is not mentioned that 33% of those found fit to work appeal the decision with a 40% success rate, rising to 70% when the appellants have representation. Thus the 39% figure is highly misleading.

Turning to the Minister for Employment, Mr Grayling is quoted in the press release as saying that it is "unacceptable that so many people have been written off to a lifetime on benefits". This is a clear manipulation of the facts, as the duration of the claims discussed in the press release is not specified. He also says that "these figures show just how many people are found fit for work, which is also untrue due to the lack of appeals data as discussed above.

It is hard to believe that a press release on a topic for which he is responsible and in which he is quoted was not written without the Minister for Employment's direction. As such, Chris Grayling has breached Section 1.2 d) and i) Section 6.3, and Section 8.4 of the Ministerial Code. Particular attention is drawn to Section 6.3, that : "Official facilities and resources may not be used for the dissemination of material which is essentially party political."

The Broken of Britain has also written to Mr. Grayling:

Dear Mr. Grayling,

I write to inform you that I have requested that Sir Gus O'Donell and the Propriety and Ethics Team at the Cabinet Office investigate your repeated breaches of the Ministerial Code over the past six months.

In particular, it is my belief that you have manipulated data and knowingly and flagrantly misled the public on issues surrounding Incapacity Benefit and Employment Support Allowance for party political purposes. Further, that you have used official Departmental machinery to further party political propaganda The most recent such abuse came yesterday - 25/01/2011 - when you issued a DWP press release entitled "Majority of people found fit for work as Government presses ahead with reforms" which showed that, in fact, it was a minority of people that were found Fit for Work.

Moreover, the text of the press release was riddled with inaccuracies and misleading statements. This calumny has led to two newspaper articles - 26/01/2011 - based on the press release claiming that 75% (Daily Express) and 94% (Daily Mail) of Incapacity Benefit claimants were fit to work and more negative press besides for sick and disabled benefit claimants.

I urge you to retract the aforementioned press release and to issue a personal statement of apology to Incapacity Benefit claimants, or risk losing credibility on this issue.

Yours sincerely,

The prospects for action are unknown to us, but it is important that Mr. Grayling, nor his colleagues, feel that they can make these statements and remain unchallenged. Please feel free to copy and modify the above in order to send your own e-mails to the Cabinet Office at and Chris Grayling at

16 comments: said...

Well done guys! As for reading those piles of scribble you call 'newspapers' I wouldn't dream of it if you tripled my DLA!

Anonymous said...

EXCELLENT!!!! ***** :)

romila said...

Dis-information being thrown about by the government to justify there dark 'reforms' to Incapacity, DLA and ESA. Well done for getting the information out there and pulling up Mr Grayling on his distortion of facts.

Jan said...

Thank you very much, that's brilliant.

Bill Kruse said...

Where's Minister for the disabled, Maria Miller, at this time? Surely she should be doing this, without prompting?


Anonymous said...

Manipulating knob head! We are not stupid and know what your game is Mr Grayling

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Please check the site Full Facts who have challenged Grayling and the Daily Mail before.

You can then use their evidence to additionally support your statements.

DeusExMacintosh said...

Trouble with claiming it's party political is that LABOUR think we're cheats and scroungers too... =8-(

Anonymous said...

Full Facts have already been on todays case!

See here for how they destroy the DM article, and link to further reports that explain why and what happened to the 39% who failed to complete.

Turns out they were not "trying it on"...Oh quelle surprise.

And here is the link for how they deal with the Express;

Sue Marsh said...

You are quite simply brilliant!!

"Section 1.2 d) and i) Section 6.3, and Section 8.4 of the Ministerial Code. Particular attention is drawn to Section 6.3, that : "Official facilities and resources may not be used for the dissemination of material which is essentially party political."

Just wonderful and I love you all for it xx

liane said...

Thank you for doing this. I have multiple sclerosis, get DLA and work full time. I'm sick of disabled people being labelled unfairly as lazy scroungers. Good for you for challenging the very people who ought to be standing up for us but aren't.

Anonymous said...

It is utterly disgusting that these false reports are being reported. The sun also ran this article. It seems like all the papers are in the pockets of this government aimed to mislead the public in order to subject misery, discrimination and prejudice to the vulnerable, sick and disabled in society. This needs to be stopped and correct facts reported, the public will then see what liars this government really is.

Loan said...

Having read the reply which Rhydian got from Sue Gray, I would hereby wish to nominate her for an Honorary Doctorate in 'Obfuscation and Disingenuous Psychology'.

Yours, the Loan Ranger, Principal of the University of Wishful Thinking.

Scotastic said...

Awesome letter and on this very subject.There is a rather conservative Journalist/Author who writes for some of the very nice newspapers that we all admire. He has very kindly written a book, mirroring the facts the tabloids are presenting to promote this very book called "The Welfare State We're In".. If you wish to add to your opinion to the context of his marketing I'm sure he wouldn't be best pleased.. Just about I am displeased at his website.. Some very interesting reactions.

He might be a little hesitant to publish your thoughts, so play nice.

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