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Anecdote as evidence



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Noticed last week, with the Secretary of State’s universal credit statement, and again reading Hansard on yesterday’s DWP oral questions, that they seem to be increasingly deploying the anecdote as evidence of success ....

Esther Mcvey last week:

Please allow me, Mr Deputy Speaker, to mention some of the real people I have met and spoken to and what they are saying about universal credit. Shafeeq, who was homeless, got an advance that got him temporary accommodation and put him in a better place to look for work. He said it “helped me out a great deal and I’d have been lost without it”. He is now in a job.

Lisa said an advance payment helped her to secure a place with a childcare provider. She is paying it back over 12 months, which she says means a great deal to her. Gemma, a lone parent, said, “it’s amazing being able to claim nearly all my childcare costs back, it’s a real incentive to go out to work – I’m going to be better off each week”.

Ben in Devon had a work coach, who helped him to progress in work from day one. Ryan from Essex had a lack of work experience and confidence, and his work coach helped him through universal credit. I will end it there—with the people receiving the benefit

People are talking about work coaches with a renewed enthusiasm because of the support that they are getting. Darren from Wales, who was put on a confidence course—we were utilising our flexible support fund—said: “My…work coach was fantastic…helped me turn my life around…fulfilling a lifelong dream”.

Esther McVey yesterday:

I want to recognise all the hard work that my hon. Friend does in his constituency. Yes, his constituents will get a better service now that we have added those changes. However, he does not have to take my words for it. Chloe, a lone parent, said: “Universal credit is easier than the old system, and it has helped me to get a job. It is simpler, as I do not have to keep putting my wage slips in. I can actually vary my wages and get paid automatically.”

My hon. Friend is right—that is exactly the number. Actually, Patrick from Newport has said that it helped him with fares to get to a job and with the cost of clothing. He said: “Thanks for all your help. It was really easy dealing with everyone who helped me back into work quickly and helping me buy what I need and travel back and forth.” That was an example from Wales.

Sarah Newton yesterday:

The hon. Gentleman wants to talk about constituents. I was on “You and Yours” last week and, during the phone-in, a whole series of people called in about their PIP experiences. As he has made his point, let us hear what Jennifer from Lancashire said: “As it happens, it has worked very well for me.” She contacted the Royal National Institute of Blind People, which helped her fill in the form, and the “result was I now get the top rate for both things…. I get £140 whereas I used to get £112.”

One experience of poor customer service is one too many .....

I also want to point out what Kate from the west midlands said, again on “You and Yours”: “My 35-year-old daughter has a learning disability. She doesn’t read or write, so I filled in the form for her. From her point of view, it turned out to be a very good experience …




Mike Hughes
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Senior Welfare Rights Officer (Take-Up), Salford WRS.

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Total Posts: 1893

Joined: 17 June 2010

I fear we should tread carefully as my approach to disability benefits is very much that anecdote far outweighs medical evidence in most cases. However…

Shafeeq - the only reason a homeless person needs money is because a system was designed which leaves them short after they claim in the first place. Ditto Lisa and Gemma. We’re praising money provided as a consequence of a structural flaw which simply need not exist.

Ben - appears to have already been in work. I doubt his work coach will have been too interested in him other than to have the opportunity to credit UC with something which was probably going to happen anyway.

Ryan - I presume we “end it there” because there is literally no support after the benefit is in place.

Darren - bit weird that no-one thought to mention what exactly the lifelong dream was. Why would you omit that one most obvious piece of information? Unless…

Jennifer - couldn’t get through the PIP claim process unless helped by RNIB.

Kate - her daughters experience appears to be the routine one of “My mum did it”.

Nobody spoke out about this nonsense then?