Wednesday, 20 April 2011


This Adult Care Blog on the Community Care site yesterday makes for interesting reading. The post (confusingly) discusses a month-old Ipsos MORI poll that was commissioned by Mencap:

Over sixty percent of the public say that cuts will lead to disabled people being the subject of public anger, a poll by Ipsos MORI for Mencap finds.

What's more, 49% say disabled people will be more vulnerable to hate crime attacks.

As this is a poll of the public, not disabled people, it's difficult to know if this is merely a fear or a statement of intent.

Of course, it takes more than just cuts to draw people's crosshairs of hate towards disabled people. Mark Goldring. chief executive of Mencap, makes the point: "Generally, there has been a disproportionate focus on the very few people who have defrauded the system rather than those who need state support like Disability Living Allowance (DLA) in order to participate in society. The Department of Work and Pensions' own figures show a fraud rate of 0.5 per cent for Disability Living Allowance."

However, I worry the subtleties of this statistical argument may be lost of the baying mob that his pollsters have tracked down.

However, the question that caught my eye was this:

An example here is the Disability Living Allowance - sometimes referred to as
DLA - which is a tax-free benefit for children and adults who need help with
personal care or have walking difficulties because they are physically or mentally
From what you may have heard about people who claim disability benefits from
the UK Government, which of the following, if any, comes closest to YOUR view?

3% of te public would agree that all DLA claimants are genuinely disabled, 36% would agree that most DLA claimants are genuine, 5% don't know, and only 3% think that most claims are bogus. The 36% figure for those who would agree that most claims are genuine seems heartening. But a question mark lies over the 52% who agree that some claimants are genuine, some are bogus.

I am unsure whether this means that these people are open to argument, and it is up to us to sway them with the fact that DLA fraud runs at 0.5%? What do you think?


Jan said...

Probably. It needs pointing out to these people that the "some genuine some bogus" position suggests around 50/50 genuine/bogus, and that suggestion is clearly totally ludicrous.

Anonymous said...

bogus!! with the amount you have to fill in and the evidence you have to provide and the time it takes to fill one in only genuine people would take the trouble, that is my opinion

RockHorse said...

I've been thinking a lot about this question of perception of fraud levels. Perhaps we need to phrase it as, "Only one in every two-hundred claims might be fraudulent," rather than talking about 0.5% fraud rates. People seem to just hear the "...five percent" in that and either miss or don't understand the "nought point..." bit of it. So they're probably thinking, "Five percent - that's one in twenty!", thus inflating the problem in their minds.

If we can swing it round to the ratio, stressing one-in-two-hundred rather than the percentage, it might bring public perception a bit more in line with reality.


Anonymous said...

Perhaps the public need to be more aware of the criteria for receiving DLA and what fraud actually constitutes.

The government's website defines a fraudulent claim as one that is made without entitlement. If (say) the criteria for entitlement were that you rang them up and said "I'm disabled" then they could proclaim a fraud level of zero, as all applicants would fulfill the criteria (even if some who rang weren't actually disabled).

If the criteria for entitlement were that you filled in a form and provided a valid doctor's certificate then (assuming you could persuade your doctor to write such a certificate) then technically "fraud" in this case would also be very low. Mr Evil could go to his doctor pretending that he had crippling back pains, get a note, submit the claim and it wouldn't be fraudulent.

So by itself a figure of 0.5% fraud is meaningless. It's all about how stringent the criteria are for receiving it. And that's what people don't know. They've all read the stories in the Daily Mail about Joe Bloggs claiming a bevy of disability-related benefits while humping boxes about for money on the side. They also know that fraud is a human condition - if there's something that people can get away with then they generally will. And that is why there are raised eyebrows about 0.5% fraud. They simply don't believe it.

So, at a time when people's incoming is dropping quickly, they need to be persuaded that the taxes that are taken from their wages are given to people in genuine need. And that is going to be difficult to do.


Kath Minchin said...

I frequently think that the people who manage to claim for DLA fraudulently could make good that crime by helping those who are eligible for it apply.

Cos if anyone knows how to jump through the hoops it's the fraudsters. I've seen too many friends who are genuine claimants have their claims rejected to assume that fraud is rampant; and often the fact that they are disabled means they don't have the mental or physical energy to confront the lies and bad judgement.