The DWP just got busted over ESA cuts. Its response is vile.

A black and white graveyard and the DWP logo
Steve Topple

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has just dug itself into a massive hole. Recent revelations forced it to change official records, but its updated answer actually made it look worse. And it left more questions than answers. Not least: what have people died for?

The DWP: the cruellest of cuts

As The Canary wrote, the DWP has been tying itself up in knots over Employment and Support Allowance (ESA). In 2017, it cut the rate of money it gave claimants in the Work-Related Activity Group (WRAG). This was by around £29 a week. The group is for people who the DWP says should be moving into work. Often these claimants live with illnesses or impairments.

At the time, the Tories and DWP said the cut was to stop giving sick and disabled people “financial incentives” to not work. The then chancellor George Osborne called these incentives “perverse”. The DWP also said the cut would save money. This was when austerity was in full flow. Its final forecast said cutting the WRAG rate would claw back just over £1bn in four years.  But it also claimed it would plough in £330m to support claimants into work.

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Trampling over dead bodies

Sound ‘perverse’? It gets even more sordid.

The DWP cut WRAG cash knowing death rates in the group were rocketing. By 2016, after it finalised the cut, claimants in the WRAG died at a rate of 7.7 per 1,000. This was over four times higher than the rest of the population. Charities disputed the DWP’s “incentives” claims. But it pushed the cut through anyway.

Now, it’s raised its ugly head again. But the story has got even uglier.

Frantic spinning

On 20 January, DWP minister Justin Tomlinson answered an MP’s question. It was about how much money the WRAG cut saved the DWP. He said there were “no savings” from cutting the WRAG rate:

Tomlinson First WRAG Answer

The Canary spotted this. We thought the answer was dodgy. This is because the DWP originally said the cut would save over £1bn. So, on Wednesday 22 January, we asked the DWP about this claim. It took it until late on Friday 24 January to get its act together and give us an answer.

The DWP changed Tomlinson’s written answer in the official records. It went from “no savings” from the cut to this:

Tomlinson WRAG Answer Two

Then, the DWP gave The Canary a comment. This had nothing to do with the WRAG cut. It was just more claims about how much money it spends on sick and disabled people:

We will spend £55bn this year on benefits to support disabled people and people with health conditions. This is up £10bn in real terms since 2010, and is around 2.5% of GDP, and over 6% of government spending.

Talk about lip service. But the DWP’s change to parliament’s records has opened a can of worms.

Worms in a can. Busting out.

Its new answer poses countless, worrying questions:

  • How did Tomlinson make such a mistake about “savings”?
  • Why did the DWP forecast over £1bn of savings from the WRAG cut? If it doesn’t know the savings now, how did it know in 2015/16?
  • What made the DWP change the wording on the £330m savings? Tomlinson first said it was “invested” from the ‘recycled’ WRAG savings. It then changed to an “additional” investment. This gives the impression the money was not from the WRAG cut. So which is it?
  • If the £330m wasn’t from the WRAG cut, where has people’s £29 a week loss since April 2017 gone? What has the DWP done with £1bn of people’s money?
  • Would the DWP have changed Tomlinson’s answer if The Canary hadn’t caught it out?

As I wrote, either Tomlinson and the DWP are “clueless”, or they’ve both told an “outright lie”. Luckily, a Canary reader has done a Freedom of Information (FOI) request. It aims to find out how much the WRAG cut saved.

But really, the DWP’s possible lying is not the worst of this.

Austerity. Misery, Death. For what?

The DWP has gone on official record to say it doesn’t know how much cash the WRAG cut saved. If we believe it, then the fall out should be damning.

Because what it’s actually saying is that it cut sick and disabled people’s money. It cut it in the name of austerity. The DWP took cash from people because, let’s face it, it thought they were ‘scroungers’. But now, it can’t say how much cash it saved.

So, what’s the point of austerity been? Why would the Tories slash public spending to save money if they didn’t then know if it had even saved anything?

By this logic, the DWP and Tories have put people through hell for no reason. People have died against a backdrop of public finance penny-pinching. And our despicable politicians and civil servants can’t even do them the decency of saying if their dead bodies have saved money. It’s an utter disgrace, piled on top of a mountain of disgraces from this vile department.

Featured image via Max Pixel and UK government – Wikimedia 

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  • Show Comments
    1. UPDATE.
      The DWP just got busted over ESA cuts.
      Its response is vile.
      //
      WELL I did tell you all the truth on D.W.P. Tory Minister
      made SCAM U-CREDIT benefits plus over benefits.
      That is Now costing Tory Govt more cash every day than Labour spent on all the benefits all the years they were in Offices a proven fact now from Govt records from back room files, U-CREDIT is Not a means tested benefit.
      This is it problem why it is Not working right plus Tory cuts.
      //
      I did say all wrongdoing would come out in time this update is just the beginning of us digging out the truth for people that needs help but are failed by Tory Govt members/ Boris/Minister/M.P. alike.
      Austerity. Misery, Death. For what?
      The DWP has gone on official record to say it doesn’t know how much cash the WRAG cut saved. If we believe it, then the fall out should be damning.
      //
      Because what it’s actually’ saying is that it cut sick and disabled people’s money. It cut it in the name of austerity. The DWP took cash from people because, let’s face it, it thought they were ‘scroungers. But now, it can’t say how much cash it saved.
      //
      So, what’s the point of austerity been? Why would the Tories slash public spending to save money if they didn’t then know if it had even saved anything?
      By this logic, the DWP and Tories have put people through hell for no reason. People have died against a backdrop of public finance penny-pinching. And our despicable politicians and civil servants can’t even do them the decency of saying if their dead bodies have saved money. It’s an utter disgrace, piled on top of a mountain of disgraces from this vile department. D.W.P./Boris/Minister as well.
      //
      Therefore, I ask Tory party members Boris/Minister/M.P. alike
      Tell us the taxpayer/ plus us Joe public were this saved cash as gone and what was it spent ON from E.S.A. Benefits payments you stopped?? (cut cash from the claimants’ payments they needed)
      COULD OR MAYBE WERE THE CASH AS GONE I PERSONALY THINK?
      Could-1
      To pay D.U.P. M.P. wages in parliament when supporting Tory Govt
      Could-2
      To pay for X Tory Transport minister mess on broken deal plus unless deal he made without seeking full support from H.O. Common’s parties
      Could-3
      To support failing business in LONDON run by outside of U.K. rich businesspeople in E.U. area to get their W/BILL done?
      Maybe-1
      Gone on the wages of extra Tory M.P. in Dec G.E.2019 (wages/campaign)
      Maybe-2
      Gone on Ms May failed G.E. plus Boris G.E. 2019 the cash could have or maybe been kept back form the claimants to fund the both Tory party G.E.??
      Maybe-3
      This saved cash is the new money to keep Tory Govt promises for more Police/Nurses /Doctors/and fund N.H.S. they promise us for our votes in Dec G.E.2019 the new funding could or maybe funded by E.S.A. claimant cash.
      Maybe-4
      If what I have put here is the true case going on now to save taxpayer money What project will the saved taxpayer money go on Boris H2o C**p or to bribe E.U. for deals or to get BIG ben bonging while the poor claimant die off time to come clean all Tory party members new & old M.P. alike now please, and stop living of the back of the poor Tory party members.
      FINALLY!
      Remember claimant /voter/resident alike we are talking about millions of pounds not paid to claimant that need the money help.
      (Not the price of the Tory Fifty pence on sale now for leaving E.U.)
      BY-the way we DO NOT leave at end of Jan 2020 this is just stage one permission to leave isn’t it Boris the fun start in Feb plus trashing of our county under Tory rule.

    2. No surprise, Austerity isn’t about saving money, it never was, it is an excuse to murder citizens whom the government and others decide are worthy of it. They have a large number of people to murder btw, at least a third of the population globally, and they do have so many shiny new toys to try out for that purpose.

      Austerity is the method and excuse they use to confuse people into thinking it’s all an accident, and is a cover for wiping out ‘undesirables’, it really has little to do with sorting out the finances of this nation, and a whole lot more to do with legal murder that they can hide in plain sight.

      1. VERY ture and good point shaolin12 and some very true words in your post
        keep telling the Tory Govt plus voter about Tory lie + missleading truth they
        all come out with now in Tory party from Boris to Minister to local area Tory M.P.

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