The formidable Sheila Gilmore MP has written To Mike Penning, following comments he made on 24 June 2014
He (of course) blamed the previous Labour government for the backlog, which as we must all know by now, is the Tory default position … when in doubt blame the previous government or anyone else!
Here is Sheilas’ letter to Mike Penning; she is awaiting his response.
When (and if) she receives it, I will post it here.
Sheila Gilmore MP
Edinburgh East Constituency
Minister of State
Department for Work and Pensions
SW1A 9DA Our Ref: MB/GILM02002/02140914
During a DWP Select Committee evidence session on 10 June 2014 you were asked
how many people were currently awaiting an assessment for Employment and
Support Allowance and you answered just over 700,000.
At DWP Questions on 23 June 2014 you said:
When the coalition Government came to office, the WCA backlog did not
suddenly happen; the problem already existed. However, we take
responsibility for what we are doing. [Interruption.] There is no point in Labour
Members’ shouting us down. They have short memories, but their backlog
existed. If they do not wish to admit that, perhaps we can see the documents,
which will enable us to know the facts. We have carried out 1 million
incapacity benefit assessments, and 700,000 people are currently being
helped into work or are looking for work.
I believe that the total number of people awaiting an assessment at the point at
which the previous Labour Government left office and the current Coalition
Government began can be calculated using your department’s Employment and
Support Allowance: Outcomes of Work Capability Assessments publication, the most
recent edition of which was published in June 2014 and contains data up to
The specific figure is arrived at by taking the total caseload and subtracting both the
total number of people either declared Fit for Work or awarded ESA and the total
number of claims closed before assessment for both new claims and repeat
assessments, and adding these two figures together. This shows that 28,300
claimants were awaiting an assessment up to May 2010.
By including the reassessment of Incapacity Benefit claimants, this same calculation
shows that 543,400 people were waiting for an assessment up to September 2013 –
nearly twenty times as many. From your answer at the Select Committee, it would
appear this has figure has increased further since.
I have enclosed spreadsheets with the relevant data for your benefit.
I would be grateful if you could confirm that the methodology I have used is correct. If
it is I think it would be appropriate for you to acknowledge – at the next available
opportunity in the House of Commons – that the number of people awaiting an
assessment was relatively small when the previous Labour Government left office,
and has increased dramatically during the Coalition Government’s time in power