Friday, 18 November 2011

Case #3: Time Is Up.

I have just submitted the following complaint on the BBC complaints form.

It has been over ten working days since I made my second complaint about this programme, due to the first complaint not being taken seriously. I was sent a response to that first complaint which was mostly a template response and it appears every one of the other 135 complaint writers received that exact same copy-pasted reply. This falls far outside the standards of best practices that should be expected from a public service.

All of the other complaints that I have read focused on the programme's bias. Mine did not; my complaint was entirely focused on the lack of factual rigour in the programme. This was not at all addressed so in my second complaint a provided a handful of examples with accompanying explanations of what I found to be wrong with them. I have waited patiently for a reply to this and today marks the tenth working day from which I submitted my second complaint. There has been no response and despite the number of complaints the BBC has not made a public response on the relevant webpage either.

Every error in the programme is serious and the errors in the programme are extensive and could not fail to widely mislead an uninformed audience who receive much of their information from the press, who frequently fudge facts and skew data, often at the behest of ministers advancing welfare reforms.

I will continue to pursue a proper response from the BBC on this matter and have begun work on a line-by-line rebuttal of the way the programme presents information, the publicly available information it omitted (such as the actual fraud prevalence and expenditure figures) and the outright inaccurate claims that were clearly not checked (no researchers are credited in the programme). If I continue to be ignored I will escalate my complaint as far as it can go.


  1. Interesting to follow what happens.

  2. Guardian alert-spot the errors.

  3. The challenge, is accepted.

    1. "Advocates of the lower rise claim it is not fair that unemployed people receive 5% rises at a time when many in work are suffering pay freezes."

    Virtually all the effected benefits are not out-of-work benefits.

    2. "On the other hand, it is being argued that a 4.5% increase, as opposed to 5.2%, does not represent a vast cut."

    No, that's because the cost of living is rising so fast that what it actually makes this is a slight increase to an already vast cut. Benefit claimants suffered quite badly under Labour when inflation was historically low. A look at the DWP tabulation tool reveals that even as claimant numbers dropped for most benefits, the average each remaining claimant was being paid not only remained static but sometimes dropped too. The economics of the last 30 years aimed to keep inflation as low as possible, perhaps even artificially. Now a crisis has caused inflation to release the built up tension and it's simply being corrective. Unfortunately it only corrects prices, not the wages which have also stagnated over the same period.

    3. "In a further move ministers are expected to announce next week that responsibility for sicknotes should be taken from family doctors and handed to special independent panels of assessors. The independent review into sickness absence will say GPs do not have the specialist skills to decide whether someone is fit to do some work, and are generous in signing sicknotes."

    The 'medical professionals' that perform assessments for the DWP don't have those skills either. The government wants to increase the use of them. I don't know of any publicly available statistical datasets for Statutory Sick Pay, but after Incapacity Benefit stopped taking new claims, it began dropping dramatically because so many claimants were short-term, which indicates to me that their Personal Capability Assessments and prior sick notes from GPs when they were on Statutory Sick Pay before were quite rigorous.

    5. "The report was commissioned by Carol Black, the government's director for health and work, and David Frost, ex-director of the British Chambers of Commerce. It aims to cut the cost of sickness to government and employers. The CBI estimated sickness cost employers £17bn in 2010."

    I have not read the report, but I do not see how this will cut costs. The CBI themselves found that the overwhelming majority of private-sector employers would never hire someone who had in the past claimed an Incapacity Benefit, a proportion which would worryingly include a lot of two-ticks and 'Investors in People' certified employers. Will employers accept liability if they use the assessor's findings to refuse to pay SSP and the employee continues coming to work to the detriment of their health? Will they just 'let go' any employee who fails an assessor says can work rather than risk their condition becoming worse? I should probably make a full post about this at some point.

    6. "The Department for Work and Pensions estimates the cost to the government of working-age ill health at £60bn a year in welfare, lost taxes and treatment."

    Which is not relevant; sick people who fail to get SPP still need treatment. The costs could be much higher if their condition worsens because they are working when they shouldn't and I imagine the treatments are the bulk of these costs.

  4. I did e-mail the paper as regards benefits and the fact that they are also paid to employed and pensioners( eg.DLA,AA).
    Earlier on I was shouting at the radio during Any Questions when the subject came up again (benefits and fuel duty)where the false distinction(benefit recipients v paid workers) was again brought up with the Tory prattling on about getting people back into work(rather than answering the question put by J.Dimbleby "fair to change the method of uprating to people with disabilities")Of course,they have already changed uprating to CPI rather RPI -a stealth cut -exponentially over time.Thanks for reply.regards

  5. I'm too asocial/anti-social; I should actually talk to people more. Couldn't stop thinking about my answer for number 2, mainly this bit:

    "A look at the DWP tabulation tool reveals that even as claimant numbers dropped for most benefits, the average each remaining claimant was being paid not only remained static but sometimes dropped too."

    The data from the tabulation tool only goes back a decade but it is quarterly for each year so there's enough points to be able to observe a fluctuation in how much the average payment for each benefit is. But there are lots of possible reasons that could explain it. It motivated me to go look at the DWP research that they put on their website other than infamously selective Ad Hoc Analyses. One stand-out paper was this:

    It as good as gives the amount for some of the most widespread benefits paid to claimants since 1971 or earlier and compares it to the prices at the time and the average national wage at the time. Unsurprisingly, these extraordinary figures have never been a subject of an Ad Hoc Analysis(IE: underhand briefing to newspapers). They utterly destroy many myths about 'lavish' benefits.

    I'm definitely going to write on this.

  6. Ah the 1970's uprating by the higher of prices or wages,Leeds winning things,The rolling stones at their zenith,the worlds first Minister for the Disabled ,the chronically sick and disabled act,a benefit for Carers (though only at first for single women)with the help of the mad monk Keith Joseph,then seen as an extreme right-winger;genuine differences between the parties yet a certain consensus regarding the welfare state-we could have been a contender,

  7. Lets see what happens next, please keep updating!Employee Complaint Form Template