Last October Chris Grayling put out this press release celebrating that the 'improvements' to the Work Capability Assessment were starting to be seen. What a great success the Harrington Review has been and Malcolm Harrington is not totally unfit for the job after all(this is me being unbiased, I'm terrible). Since then this has been re-stated by ministers, mainly Grayling and Freud repeatedly in the media and in Parliament. It rests on three claims about the data: more people are going into the Support Group, the number of successful appeals against 'fit for work' decisions is dropping and this is because the government listened to Harrington's recommendations and implemented them. Here is a case of The Fallacy Of False Cause.
Event x is related to (or is followed by) event y.The truly wicked use the Truth to tell lies. The first two claims are true and those are the ones people tend to check because they believe ministers have only made two factual claims which turn out to be correct. The one that matters is the third one about the causes of the first and second. The thing is that the upward trend for those being put in the Support Group started before the first Harrington Review was even published in November 2010:
Event x caused event y.
Events of kind x are followed by events of kind y.
Events of kind x cause events of kind y.
The same for the 'fit for work' appeals:
You can start from roughly the average number of appeals and then plot the trend as definitely starting at the end of 2009 for both tables. Freud has tried vaguely urging other Lords to just take his word for it that the figures, and possibly those unpublished ones for later dates, show some unique trend set apart from this one. I don't think they should.
Ok, that was a short post for me. I'll speculate on why appeals started failing more and Support Group got more input another time. I have some ideas though.