Labour not to blame for ESA assessment backlog

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

House of Commons, London, SW1A 0AA | 020 7219 7062 |
03 July 2014

Mike Penning
Minister of State
Department for Work and Pensions
Caxton House
Tothill Street
SW1A 9DA Our Ref: MB/GILM02002/02140914

Dear Mike

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
September 2013.

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


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14 Responses to Labour not to blame for ESA assessment backlog

  1. Mike Sivier says:

    Reblogged this on Vox Political and commented:
    More lies from the government of lies – and Mike Penning works so hard on his façade of honesty.
    This is yet another demonstration of the fact that, when you cut the number of people employed in the public sector, the work of government falls apart.


  2. Jay says:

    …another example of how the politicians, who are only in place to represent the people, have totally forgotten their place…


  3. royboxer says:

    Reblogged this on royboxer.


  4. Reblogged this on amnesiaclinic and commented:
    I read the transcript of the debate dwp debate and was appalled at how the government are throwing these lies around and still blaming labour. Well done Sheila for getting the facts straight. The politicians have to be challenged at every level and at every opportunity.


  5. jaypot2012 says:

    Mike Penning actually believes his own lies, so much so that he says he can produce documents. I’d challenge him to do so and then see if his face suddenly changes when it suddenly drops that what he said was actually a lie.
    As for what he says here “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 would like to see the evidence to back that as I believe that to be a huge spin on statistics.


  6. jaypot2012 says:

    Reblogged this on Jay's Journal and commented:
    I hope that Sheila Gilmore gets an answer soon. If he doesn’t answer then he’s ignoring her and the reason for that would be due to his realisation that everything he said was a complete lie…


  7. Pingback: Labour not to blame for ESA assessment backlog ...

  8. beastrabban says:

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    I’m not remotely surprised that Pennington and the government are blaming Labour for the backlog in ESA assessments. As Glynis says, Its their default position. So much so that Harry Enfield used to spoof MPs using is as response to a simple question about what the time was: ‘I do not know what the time is, but I can telly you, whatever time it is, it is a better time than under the last government.’ Enfield earned Tory hatred for his attacks on them, and that is a pretty good summary of the typical Tory response to any vaguely political question.


  9. vomsters says:

    During the first year of a new term, an incoming government can feasibly, maybe, just about blame problems on the outgoing regime. In the last year of a term, the only answer to any such claims has to be “And you have done nothing to change this in 4-5 years? Are you *all* incompetent or do you think the public are ignorant?” (the answer to both questions being “yes” of course).


    • I agree Vomsters. They must think that most of the public sailed up the Thames on a water biscuit, if they seriously think that after 4 years they can STILL say, but it’s all THEIR (Labours) fault every time something goes t*ts up!


  10. Pingback: Cutting red tape has cost the taxpayer billions | Vox Political

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