More data needed

Hamish Rutherford at Stuff reports:

Disability services group CCS says it has “grave concerns” about plans to introduce work ability assessments, influenced by controversial tests conducted in Britain.

From July, the invalid’s benefit, paid to about 85,000 New Zealanders, will be replaced by the supported living payment, as part of wide-ranging welfare changes.

Social Development Minister Paula Bennett has said this would mean little change, although in a speech to health professionals late last year she signalled a new assessment regime which “echoes” the British process.

Measuring the extent to which disabled can work, the British tests have prompted a debate in the British Parliament, as well as protests targeting the Paralympics where Atos, the private company doing the tests, was a sponsor.

CCS Disability Action chief executive David Matthews cited research showing the British Government had spent £42.2 million (NZ$80.5m) on appeals against the tests, about 40 per cent of which overturned Atos’ findings.

CCS may have a point, but the data they cite doesn’t make it.

The cost of appeals by itself means little. The UK has a population around 40 times larger than us.

The 40% being over-turned on appeal means little also, unless we know how many appealed. If only 1% of those classified appeal, then a 40% success rate would be lower than what I’d expect. If 75% of those classified are appealing, then a 40% success rate would suggest a wider problem.

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