Monday, 31 August 2015

DWP in the line of fire

There was a rather artificial "shock, horror" reaction to the revelation that the persons illustrating case histories in a DWP leaflet did not actually exist. One has to wonder where these journalists have been living. Government has been using composite illustrative characters in their promotions for longer than I can remember, going back as least as far as those Central Office of Information films and leaflets introducing the NHS and the other reforms of the 1940s. I also have personal experience of one such case. When the civil service launched a recruitment drive in the 1960s, they used a case study of John, a grammar school boy from a northern town who had made it into the executive grades without having a university degree. It was all largely factual. I know, because John had been a flat-mate of mine. However, the face in the photos that accompanied the promotion was that of a model. John did not mind too much, and since the c.v. was not only basically truthful but also typical of a large number of us at that time, no harm was done. The indictment of the leaflets is that the best practice described in them does not match the experience of too many claimants who come to the party's advice centres.

More to the point was the release, delayed until the parliamentary recess, of the morbidity statistics relating to those people passed as fit to work by the DWP. Now all raw statistics have to be interpreted and one has to accept that more people who are working die than those covered by these statistics. But one has to wonder whether the proportion of people passed fit for work dying is the same as in the population as a whole.

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