Author Topic: FullFact "Are the severely disabled weathering the worst of the cuts?"  (Read 940 times)


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Hi all

FullFact have updated their recent article looking at a claim by the Guardian that the most severely disabled people are bearing the brunt of the cuts.  See 

It's a long article, but here is the conclusion:


The Guardian's claim that 2% of the population - disabled people with the greatest needs - are weathering 15% of all spending cuts, and that each person in this category stands to lose over 8,000, is presented as a statement of fact. While the statistics can be traced back to a substantial piece of research, the estimates are rather more uncertain than the Guardian allows for, and a number of the assumptions that underpin the figures can be challenged.

By using GDP deflators rather than departmental budgets to calculate real-terms figures, excluding childrens social care from the calculations and accounting for the "front-loading" of certain cuts, a reader could justifiably reach different figures.

The scope of the report also means that certain factors that could inflate or deflate the figures are not considered. For example, taking into account tax changes could, as the author suggests, mean that the relative size of the "burden" placed on the severely disabled increases as a result of the VAT increase. However it's also possible that it might fall, given the changes made to personal allowances.

Besides this, other problems remain. For example, while the report breaks down benefits spending into its constituent parts, it doesn't do the same with other areas of spending. This means it misses things that could affect the overall cut experienced by the severely disabled, such as the 3.8 billion added to the NHS budget in the 2010 Spending Review to help fund social care:

The impact that changes in public spending have on groups that might be particularly affected by them is certainly a matter of real public concern, and A Fair Society? offers some interesting research in this area. However it is important to be clear about the uncertainty that we must attach to these estimates: as the report itself notes, there isn't enough information publicly available to be able to conclusively calculate the extent to which the severely disabled are affected by public spending cuts above and beyond the wider public. This isn't something that is clear from the Guardian's article. In fact, the report calls upon the Government to undertake its own Impact Assessment on the topic so we can have a more informed discussion about the impact of the changes in the benefit system.


regards, Deb


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I read that as something like "the Guardian have made a reasonable presentation based on the information available, despite the uncertainties" and that "the Government should do a proper Cumulative Impact Assessment".

Not a bad showing for the Guardian, given the way that both the Government and the tabloids - not to mention the Telegraph - have repeatedly fallen short on the most basic measures of accuracy, completeness and impartiality.


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except that The Guardian didn't make it clear enough how uncertain the data was, Darth

regards, Deb