Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Oct 27, 2016 21:04:43 GMT
Toby Young trashes Ken Loach's film and gets all his facts wrong
Young admits: 'I'm no expert'
Toby Young's critique of Ken Loach's new film 'I,Daniel Blake' has quite rightly enraged a large number of people.
As a humble welfare benefit specialist who has helped hundreds of people through the broken 'Work Capability Assessment' used to determine entitlement to Employment & Support Allowance, I too am enraged not least because Toby totally abused the spirit in which I responded to his request for help from an 'ESA Expert'. In an effort to help him write an accurate article, but equally mindful that I smelt a bit of a rat in him seeking my help, I provided him with information which he promptly ignored as he proceeded to ditch any regard for fact when penning an article for the Daily Mail entitled "Why only Lefties could go misty eyed at a movie that romanticises Benefits Britain".
It's very disappointing Toby.
The only bit you got right was this: 'I'm no expert', I give you 10/10 for that.
Here's where you went wrong, it's a long read with my many corrections in red.....
I've thrown in a few figures to help you for future reference purposes.
The audience watches as a disabled man is being given a Work Capability Assessment in a Newcastle Jobcentre. Toby, the Work Capability Assessment has nothing to do with assessing disability! It's about assessing people for their capability to carry out work or work related activity, it's an incapacity benefit for those who cannot work. And are you sure the assessment was carried out in a Jobcentre? Assessments are usually carried out in the premises of privatised healthcare firms such as Atos and Maximus.
Toby, this section is little more than your own politics and represents only your own views....
He is the eponymous character in I, Daniel Blake, the latest film by Left-wing director Ken Loach. Needless to say, his experience is portrayed as brutal and degrading.
To make matters worse, the ‘healthcare professional’ who cross-examines Daniel is an employee of — you guessed it — an American private company.
Typical Tories, eh? Not only do they force the disabled to go through a humiliating test to see if they’re fit for work, they outsource the administration of it to an evil capitalist corporation!
You may find it hard to believe, but that opening scene is the most entertaining in this relentlessly dour film. Daniel makes light of some of the questions, such as whether he has difficulty evacuating his bowels. Toby, what on earth is entertaining about being asked questions relative to bowel evacuation? This is grossly insensitive to Daily Mail readers who suffer with some form of bowel or bladder incontinence. Surely you could have shown some empathy with sufferers who would have to meet the following criterion to qualify? It shows the mindset which you've adopted in starting your article, this comes over as trivialising people with very serious health problems.
Again Toby, you're stirring up the rhetoric, this isn't journalism, it's just you forcing your opinions on others......
Compared with what follows, the first five minutes are almost upbeat.
The remaining 135 minutes are unremittingly depressing.
Daniel’s application for Employment and Support Allowance is declined, in spite of the fact he’s just had a heart attack, and he’s then thrown into the Kafkaesque labyrinth that is the welfare system appeals process.
Inevitably, the Left-wing Press has taken the film to its heart. The Guardian, for example, calls it a ‘battle cry for the dispossessed’, and its reviewer describes how he was reduced to ‘a shivering wreck . . . awash with tears, aghast with anger’.
Veteran socialist Loach also throws in a female character — a single mum called Katie — whom Daniel befriends when he witnesses her being mistreated at the same Jobcentre.
She’s been turfed out of a homeless shelter in London — ‘They’re moving out the likes of me,’ she tells him — and ends up in a freezing flat in Newcastle with no electricity.
She faints from hunger in a food bank, is caught shoplifting sanitary towels and becomes a prostitute so she can buy school shoes for her daughter.
Such is Loach’s view of life for people trying to claim benefits in austerity Britain.
I, Daniel Blake is supposed to be a contemporary version of Cathy Come Home, the famous BBC film that Loach made in 1966 and which caused such an uproar at the time it led to changes in attitudes and, ultimately, changes in the law.
Will the latest effort of this 80-year-old Jeremy Corbyn supporter have a similar impact?
I’m no expert on the welfare system, but several aspects of I, Daniel Blake don’t ring true. I give you 10/10 for your only accurate observation 'I'm no expert', you said it and I wholeheartedly agree.
The two protagonists are a far cry from the scroungers on Channel 4’s Benefits Street, who I accept aren’t representative of all welfare recipients.
But Loach has erred in the opposite direction. For a filmmaker who styles himself a ‘social realist’, he has an absurdly romantic view of benefit claimants.
Daniel is a model citizen. At no point do we see him drinking, smoking, gambling, or even watching television. No, he is a welfare claimant as imagined by a member of the upper-middle class metropolitan elite.
He listens to Radio 4, likes classical music and makes wooden toys for children — the kind of over-priced ‘artisanal’ tat sold in ‘alternative’ toyshops in Islington, where Loach lives.
Katie, too, is a far cry from White Dee, the irresponsible character in Benefits Street.
She’s determined to better herself and has embarked on an Open University course.
If only those heartless Tories hadn’t thrown her out of London, where her mother helped with childcare, she might have become a social worker.
Perhaps even an organiser for the Islington branch of Momentum, the Corbyn-supporting phalanx of hard-Left Labour activists.
As it is, poor Katie is reduced to trying to read by candlelight, as her wan-faced children fight over the last digestive biscuit.
She is more like a Dickens character than a resident of 21st-century Britain, the fourth richest country in the world.
Daniel’s experience of trying to claim Employment and Support Allowance is also a little implausible. Did you speak with any Employment & Support Allowance claimants in an effort to research their experience? Over 6.1 million people have claimed the allowance from October 2008 so you had no shortage of potential people to speak to.
Would a middle-aged man who’s just had a massive heart attack really be declared ‘fit for work’ by the Department for Work and Pensions? Or is it the fault of the evil American corporation that conducts the tests for a multi-million-pound contract? Toby, you can't be so blind as to the preponderance of articles over people who are quite obviously unwell being found fit for work. Take the case of Graham Shawcross for instance, he was 63, had potentially fatal Addison’s disease, but was ruled fit to work in November 2013 and had his £400-a-month incapacity benefit halted. He died of a heart attack in February 2014. Yvonne, his wife of 23 years, claims the stress of losing his benefits, and of launching an appeal against the decision, caused his death. She told Department of Work and Pensions bosses Graham had died, but they still invited him to attend an appeal hearing - and wrote again a few days later to say he was eligible for Employment and Support Allowance for at least the next 24 months.
Yvonne of Radcliffe, Manchester, said: “Graham would surely be alive today if it was not for the stress. The appeal decision clearly upheld that Graham was not fit for work and furthermore, under something called the decision making and appeal regulations, they would have had to consider how unwell Graham was at the time he was ruled fit for work in November 2013. The DWP decision was wrong, Graham had a potentially fatal condition, and he died after being found fit for work. There are no end of similar stories, I've recorded some of them here for you to ponder over.
Even supposing this happened, it is dishonest to suggest, as the film does, that Daniel couldn’t appeal until a so-called ‘decision-maker’ had called him.
Employment and Support Allowance claimants are entitled to appeal as soon as they get the letter telling them their application has been turned down. Toby! This is more than a bit rich. You can't allege dishonesty when you yourself were up to a bit of mischief making. Unlike you, I would legitimately consider myself an expert in my field and that's how you came to be put in touch with me after you went on Twitter and requested views from ESA experts. I won't share the information we exchanged because it was done as a private message, but you've abused your request for my help before you wrote your article and the spirit in which I responded. It's hacked me off to be honest as I very clearly explained the appeals process to you and rather hoped you'd integrate it in to your article. It's fair to say I smelt a rat and you've proved me right. I would add I have helped hundreds and hundreds of people through the appeals process and am far more familiar with it than you will ever be. It just shows you were out to write a biased article regardless of your so called efforts to research the subject. You've let your profession down in my view, you're a cheapskate journalist and you lacked integrity in the manner in which you approached me.
More importantly, the whole polemical thrust of the film is misleading.
We’re asked to believe people who claim incapacity benefit are all upstanding citizens who would love nothing more than to earn an honest living if only they were able-bodied. Forcing them to undergo a Work Capability Assessment is a needless humiliation from a sadistic Tory government.
In fact, the test was first introduced by Labour in 2008 and between then and 2013 roughly a million people decided to come off the Employment and Support Allowance rather than go through the assessment. This is totally absurd Toby, again you've carried out no research whatsoever. I've checked the figures and looked at what we call the 'duration of claim'. This measures the time people have been on Employment and Support Allowance and you can check the figures here. ESA regulations provide that an assessment should be conducted within 13 weeks of first making the claim. The relevant legislation is the Employment & Support Allowance Regulations 2008 regulation 4 which you can check here. As can be seen in the chart below, the number of claims which end before the assessment window of 3 months (13 weeks) is complete comes to 582,980. These are mostly short term sickness claims where no assessment is conducted because the claimant recovers before the assessment is due. In actual practice though Toby, had you conducted the research, you would know that many of these assessments were the subject of massive backlogs so claimants often had to wait well beyond 3 months before being provided with an assessment. If we look at the numbers claiming for between 3 and 6 months we see this comes to a further 726,720 claims making a total of 1,309,700 for all claims of between 0 and 6 months in duration. This is a normal pattern of claims which are simply short term. Toby, you have irresponsibly sensationalised a point over people 'deciding not to go through with an assessment'. It's not the first time the media has been picked up on this either so you should have acted with more care. Furthermore it's disrespectful to some people who would have died within this 'assessment phase' and to those who move off benefits on to other benefits or Pensions. Here's the figures Toby, shame on you for not checking them! You've also clearly misread DWP press statements issued over this and omitted to mention the all important clarifications. Check your facts before the work of fiction Toby......
No doubt Loach believes they all suddenly got better overnight. It’s true that a majority of the claimants did take the test. But of those, a further million were declared fit for work. Being declared fit for work by poorly trained assessors, some conducting assessments in as little as 12 minutes, is no guarantee that the claimant is actually fit for work. All of these findings are at odds with the claimant's own properly qualified general practitioner. The GP will in all new claim cases have had to sign the claimant off as unfit to work, it is a condition of any award of Employment & Support Allowance being made throughout the duration of the assessment phase. They do so in accordance with the Medical Evidence Regulations 2010 as required under the Claims and Payments Regulations. Are you suggesting all one million doctors were wrong Toby? Is that even plausible? Did you research the numbers of people who appealed against these decisions and are you aware that over one million appeals were lodged against these decisions at Tribunals with success rates reaching up to well in excess of 50%? Did you research how many people who came off Employment & Support Allowance ended up re-claiming, quite often after a fit for work decision, did you look in to this? You appreciate that this impacts heavily on what we call 'claimant reduction', and helps to explain why the overall claimant count of 2.5 million has barely fallen? Did you not know this was a major contributory factor in the rising cost of Employment & Support Allowance expenditure as identified by the IFS and OBR? This just smacks of a total lack of any viable research? Also Toby, did you not stop to ponder this; if all these millions were truly found fit for work, why did the numbers on Jobseeker's Allowance not go up? These people would hardly fall straight in to a job would they so a rise in Jobseeker claims would be expected. Did you check the Work Programme 'Job Outcome' statistics in this range? - quite obviously it is something else you have not bothered to look in to.
I dare say some were men like Daniel Blake, who were wrongly assessed. But the vast majority should never have been receiving disability benefit. I've already told you it's not disability benefit! The vast majority qualify for the benefit, that's why the claimant count remains at near to 2.5 million, you have not looked in to this at all have you Toby?
They were among the millions who became welfare-dependent under the last Labour government, which saw Britain’s benefits bill more than double in size despite record economic growth and falling unemployment. Toby, this is really shoddy and very likely to mislead Daily Mail readers. You start off referring to millions, meaning people, then switch to expenditure; why have you done this? You've started the statement by making people think that millions 'became welfare dependent under the last Labour government'. You've led the reader in to thinking you are only talking about the numbers of people on the sick because this is the thrust of your article. Again, I've checked on this and we can see that this isn't the case at all, the following chart is taken from a Parliamentary Record SN01420 July 2013, sourced from DWP Expenditure Tables and this shows the claimant count relative to Incapacity Benefits. This shows a massive rise under the Tories from 1979 to 1997 Toby rather than under Labour. You also refer to record falling unemployment but fail to clarify when this was. In so far as the unemployment claimant count goes, for the avoidance of doubt Toby, I've provided you with another chart showing how this also rose under the Tories. I also take this opportunity, mindful that you accept you are no expert, to remind you that unemployment claimant counts are not just static numbers, millions of people have claimed 'unemployment' benefits (as measured in the claimant count) since 1983, indeed the NOMIS figures show the number of claims to be a staggering 111.3 million up to June 2016. This was a golden opportunity to educate your readers and you completely blew it!
Unemployment claimant count figures sourced from ONS NOMIS 8th Oct 2016.....
Unemployment, as you well know Toby, is a complicated subject. If however you seek to force views on your readers you should do so by at least conducting some research. The above chart tracks the unemployment claimant count from 1983 and shows how it peaked at over 3 million, or to be more precise in February 1985 it reached 3,200,719 and again in September 1993 when it reached 2,804,127. Had you bothered to conduct some research you would know this was often attributed to the economic policies of the Tories in the 1980's and 90's and they were often accused of increasing the numbers on incapacity benefits (not regarded as unemployment benefit but something we call 'economic inactivity') to play down unemployment. It's true to say that Labour did not decrease the numbers but you should have made the reader aware that once a residual figure of approximately 2.5 million on the sick has been reached, it is very difficult to absorb such high numbers in to the labour markets to such an extent that they could be employed; this would entail creating a significant number of new jobs and working constructively with employers to take on those who are able to work. Your 'scrounger' narrative is hardly going to help towards that objective is it? Employers, I think we are agreed, need to be given more confidence in employing people with limitations and you could have engaged, rather than enraged, your readers in starting a constructive debate. Why didn't you seize the opportunity instead of playing political football with people who are sick?
A significant percentage of this increase was due to Labour’s introduction of the Employment and Support Allowance, claimed by more than three million people by the time Gordon Brown left office in 2010.Toby, where on earth did you get this three million people from? I've checked the DWP's range of figures for ESA and the relevant chart is here. This counts the number of claims for Employment & Support Allowance & I've looked at the number of claims made from October 2008 (which is captured in the November 2008 quarterly figures) to May 2010 and the true number is 1,001,050not3,000,000; how is your figure 2 million higher than the DWP's?
Number of ESA on - flows
Is Ken Loach really telling us all the new claimants were genuinely disabled, like Daniel Blake, and are being cheated of their benefits by evil Tories?
Hardly. A single mother with two children typically gets more than £200 a week in state hand-outs and her rent would normally be covered by housing benefit. School shoes from Tesco cost around £10. Toby, again a complete lack of research. The well established Gingerbread charity for instance was an easy port of call to find out how a majority of 66.5% of single parents are in work, most receive no child maintenance, and 44% of children in single parent families live in relative poverty. Again, Toby did you speak to any single parents and learn how it's not as simple as bringing in £200 a week? What about contributions to the rent not met by Housing Benefit? What about contributions to Council Tax in some cases, what about paying debts? What about the rising cost of living and the high cost of bringing up children? What about the Daily Mail readers who are single parents and have lost their jobs Toby?
In the film, the working people of Newcastle are portrayed as kind-hearted Labour voters who support Daniel and Katie every step of the way. But welfare cuts introduced by the Coalition government were wildly popular with the majority of the British public.
A Populus poll in 2015, on the eve of the last General Election, found that only 25 per cent of the public share Loach’s view that abuse of the benefit system has been overstated.
By contrast, 75 per cent think too much money is being spent on benefits and want further cuts to Britain’s welfare bill.
And it may break Loach’s heart to learn that working class voters in the North of England are just as keen on cutting welfare as Conservatives in the South.
Indeed, Corbyn’s opposition to cutting the benefits bill is one reason his party is trailing Theresa May’s by 18 points. Have you heard of something called propaganda Toby? It's little wonder the public perception is brainwashed in the way it is is. The reason this occurs is because of people like you Toby, you are an irresponsible journalist who writes for a paper that peddles factually inaccurate trash. Here's what the Mail wrote back in October 2010, and look how grossly inaccurate that transpired to be?.....
You are certainly missing the point Toby......
Perhaps I’m missing the point of I, Daniel Blake. Maybe it’s not supposed to be a realistic portrait of what life is like for people at the bottom of society. Maybe it is just intended to signal to all Loach’s admirers what a compassionate fellow he is.
If so, it should be judged a success. It won the Palme d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival because of movie industry bigwigs keen to let the world know how virtuous they are, too, and no doubt will be showered with Baftas in due course.
At the end of the film, Daniel’s appeal hearing has arrived and he has prepared a ‘moving’ statement in which he complains about his terrible treatment at the hands of the Tory Government: ‘I’m not a client, or a customer, or a service user. I, Daniel Blake am a citizen, nothing more and nothing less.’
Unfortunately, tragedy strikes for Daniel.
Loach’s indictment of Tory Britain certainly packs a punch if you can make it to the end of his 140-minute civics lesson.
But don’t call it ‘social realism’. Judging by its misty-eyed, laughably inaccurate portrait of benefits Britain, it should be called a ‘romantic comedy’.
Try telling that to the relatives of those that have died as a result of these wicked reforms Toby, unlike you I have spoken to them at length.
What they tell me is utterly dreadful and a million miles from your twisted perception of a romantic comedy.