Non-partisan UK-based Disability campaign. Advocacy for people with invisible illness and/or physical & mental health conditions. Also Carers, their Families and Friends.
Our individual voices are too quiet to be heard, but collectively we can shout loud enough to drown out this tide of abuse against us. Disability Hate Crime, lack of full legal protection, people in care homes costing too much to be let out and not one political party willing to fight for us.
Complaint to the BBC re Humphries #TFSOWWJH by @ClaireOT
Here is the text of my complaint. I am happy for you to cut and paste it in whole or in part in order to submit your own complaint. Let’s share out the spoons…
“Beveridge… helped to create a different sort of monster in its place: the age of entitlement. The battle for his successors is to bring it to an end.” John Humphries, reported in the Mail. What is this evidence for an age of entitlement? It would seem that this is an assertion reported as fact- which is a real failure of investigative journalism in an age when in half an hour I have researched the facts regarding this issue in the UK today.
Humphries visits Cardiff in the documentary, and notes “one in four people of working age in this area are now living on benefits”. (The figure was 24% as of February 2011). He doesn’t mention is it is quite exceptional for such a large share of working age people in an area to be on benefits: this is the case in only 5% of wards in Great Britain. This is a serious error in the form of bias, and a poor choice of case study for inclusion in such a documentary. The implication, that people are “swindling” the system, is offensive to people who are reliant on state support.
Humphries states several times that numbers of claimants of incapacity benefit have grown steadily. He is wrong. In 1999, some 9.5 per cent of wards had 24% or more working age residents on benefits. In 2007, before the recession, this had fallen to 3.7 per cent. This would suggest concentrations of benefit receipt are highly responsive to labour market conditions: the opposite of what is suggested by the ‘welfare dependency’ theory. This is clear evidence of poor research, factual inaccuracy in reportage, and bias in reporting. It is offensive to claimants of welfare support. Humphries visits a GP in the documentary. “What does she think of the statistics that say there are 2.5m people too sick to work? Unbelievable, she says. Literally unbelievable.” We all know how statistics, baldly stated, can mislead us and seduce us into believing our prejudices, our “evidence” from anecdotes are true representatives of fact. They very rarely are. That is why we use research methods to eliminate or account for bias.
52 per cent of people claiming sickness benefit (Incapacity Benefit/Employment Support Allowance) are disabled. We know this because they are also receiving Disability Living Allowance, which we know has a very low rate of fraud (less than 0.5%). Humphries has shown poor choice of question for this participant- one that reflects his bias, and which misrepresents myth and anecdote about claiming benefits for fact. This shows a poor standard of interviewing, bias, and factual misrepresentation. It is offensive to benefit recipients.
Among the rest of the sickness benefit caseload, receipt has been falling for years without the use of tough sanctions on claimants or benefit cuts – the opposite of what the “dependency” theory would lead us to expect. Humphries makes no mention of this very salient fact in his documentary- which shows poor standard of presenting, bias, inaccuracy, and gives offence. Lone parent employment rates fell from 60% at the end of the 1970s to 44% by the mid-1990s and then rose steadily, reaching 58% today. We can see that this has not followed the expected direction of travel were “a dependency culture” to blame. Again, clear evidence of bias, factual misrepresentation, and poor standards of presentation.
“In my decades of reporting politics I have never before seen the sort of political consensus on the benefits system that we seem to be approaching now.” Here, Humphries appears to be delivering a right-wing thesis on an imagined problem of “welfare dependency” within documentary format. It is a very poor reflection of the supposed impartiality and balance of reportage which I would expect from the BBC. In light of this, I demand that disabled people and their representatives, Citizens Advice Bureau staff, or other suitably qualified people are provided with the opportunity to make a point-by-point rebuttal in a similar time slot.
Many figures in this complaint have been taken from: http://www.leftfootforward.org/2011/10/john-humphrys-is-wrong-on-social-security/
edit: To make a complaint, you need to fill outthis formon the BBC website.