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Complainant Name:
Mr Tom Evans

Clauses Noted: 1, 12

Publication: Daily Express

Complaint:

Mr Tom Evans complained to the Press Complaints Commission that an article - reporting that a large number of applications for the newly-introduced Employment and Support Allowance had been refused - misled readers by suggesting that claimants were "faking" their illnesses. He said that there was no evidence to support this contention. Rather, the statistics could be explained by the fact that the ESA regime, which replaced the old incapacity benefit, applied far more stringent criteria for eligibility. The complainant also added that the article discriminated against those with disabilities.

Resolution:

The complaint was resolved when the PCC helped to negotiate publication of the following letter from the complainant:

I WRITE regarding your front page story ("75% on sick benefit are faking", October 14 2009), which referred to statistics showing that 75 per cent of those who claimed the new Employment and Support Allowance were ineligible for this particular benefit. However, there was no evidence to suggest that anyone had been faking illness.

It's recognised that the new criteria for the allowance are more stringent, so much so that some people with serious health conditions have been excluded.

For example, a person with a learning disability who ‘needs verbal instructions as to how to carry out a simple task' would gain six points, well short of the 15 points needed for eligibility.

I'm therefore concerned that the bar has been raised so high that many seriously ill people have been deemed fit for work when in fact they are not.

Tom Evans
Whippingham,
Isle of Wight

Date Published: 04/06/2010



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