Sunday, August 3, 2014

Minister caught misleading government’s benefits advisors

A work and pensions minister has been caught giving misleading information to the government’s own benefits advice body about the possibility of assessing the overall impact on disabled people of its sweeping welfare cuts and reforms.

Lord Freud, minister for welfare reform, is just the latest in a line of Conservative ministers to be embarrassed by the coalition’s increasingly frantic attempts to defend its refusal to carry out a cumulative impact assessment (CIA).

In a letter to the social security advisory committee (SSAC), Lord Freud insisted that it was not possible to carry out a CIA for disabled people, and claimed that this was a view “shared by the authoritative Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS)”.

Ministers have repeatedly made this claim. But earlier this month, the IFS published research which included a CIA looking at the impact of 35 benefit and tax changes on disabled people in Wales.

The IFS insisted that such cumulative assessments were possible, and told Disability News Service (DNS) that it was unclear where the government’s view about the IFS position on CIAs had come from.