DLA: The Numbers

I was on BBC Talkback earlier to comment on the Belfast Telegraph lead-story today about DLA claimant levels.

I thought Slugger readers may like to see the stats behind the headlines.

The stats detailed in this written answer show the change in the average number of people in receipt of Disability Living Allowance between 2010 and 2014, broken down by Northern Ireland constituency.

Overall, about one in 9 of Northern Ireland’s population is in receipt of DLA – compared with around 1 in 20 in England. In West Belfast, 1 in every 5 of or so is in receipt of DLA.

If you’d like to listen to the programme the podcast is now available.

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  • Sharpie

    Abortion levels are much lower here. In GB people are much more likely to terminate a pregnancy with a high risk or certainty of disability: for example over 90% of babies diagnosed antenatally with Down Syndrome are aborted in the UK. I wonder what these figures add to the DLA.

  • Jeffrey Peel

    I don’t really think our disability levels are any higher – just our DLA claimant level. Also, abortion is not illegal here – just very inconvenient. Northern Ireland is part of the UK where abortion is most covered by the 1967 Act. Typically more than a 1,000 women a year from Northern Ireland travel to Britain to have terminations. That is a national scandal.

  • Jag

    The suicide rate in Northern Ireland – deaths per 100,000 – is twice that of Britain, and nearly twice that of the Republic. To the extent that suicide is caused by mental health issues, it’s therefore not surprising that twice the number of people are claiming DLA. Is the suicide rate the result of the Civil War, the underlying sectarianism, the public sector dependent economy? I’d say yes it is. What other reason could there be?

  • Sharpie

    I didn’t say abortion was illegal – just that the levels are lower. What are the stats on differences in congenital disability between here and the UK average? Is there any other way these are measured apart from DLA?

  • Jeffrey Peel

    I really can’t accept that the difference in DLA claimant rate in West Belfast can be explained by higher levels of congenital disability. The ONS publishes statistics for the UK on disability free life expectancy (DFLE) which indicates that DFLE (at birth) for those born in 2009-11 is around 64 years. The comparable number for Northern Ireland is around 60 years. This doesn’t imply vastly greater rates of congenital defect here. Although the fact that Northern Ireland’s health stats are mostly never included in the ONS numbers makes it very hard to compare – yet another disadvantage of devolved government. Disability is correlated with disadvantage but the claimant levels here are simply ludicrous. That’s not to say that those in need should be denied the benefit. My issue is with those who are milking the system – a system that’s too easy to milk. And for those who argue that I’m ignoring those ‘at the top’ of society who are ripping off the system – I’m not. I find corporatism and boy’s club market rigging just as repugnant.

  • Matt Beeching

    @jeffreypeel:disqus do you have evidence to support your theory that DLA claimant levels are up but not the disability levels?

  • Jeffrey Peel

    Well yes. The ONS data on disability-free longevity imply an increase in disability-free population over the last 10 years. Also disability caused by road traffic accidents, in-work accidents and civil disorder has declined. Moreover the number of people in the population with disability incurred during the troubles is also reducing – as people injured in the early troubles die. I also know of no substantial increases in fetal abnormalities – or where Northern Ireland has recently become massively out of line with the rest of the UK. The rate of claiming has been traditionally very high – especially in certain constituencies. But claiming levels seem to be at an all time high. This is more likely to be as a result of the rules relating to DLA claiming than as a result of increases in the disabled population.

  • kalista63

    As I recall, you said on the radio that it was down to Sinn Fein. In fact, you made the point serveral times. Obviously, the Shinners aren’t mental health experts,like you, with your on air haranguing of a young bipolar (a chemical condition) that had to be stopped by William Crawley.

    My partner is a CPN in E Belfast and when ESA was introduced, her team’s valuable time was wasted sorting out cases where unfit long term patients had been sent to work.

    As for West Belfast, I’d advise a little field work. Go to Poleglass or/and Ballymurphy on a weekend evening and observe what the place is like. It’s like fekn Gotham. Then there’s the infamous lower Falls where pensioners are afraid to go out after dark, the area being given over to an infamous gang of hoods. You expect a child who grows up there to be unaffected.

    Talk to anyone from one of the big estates, loyalist or republican, and they’ll tell you things were better back in the day. When I was a kid, only the cool guys could get dope, the rest of us having to resort to glue and such. Nowdays, the kids are smoking dope, taking harder drugs and drink from their early to mid teens, the worse effect on a developing brain being well established.

    Furthermore, we know that organisations are dealing and we also know that they are a protected species, unlike dealers in GB. Go and talk to a common or garden PSNI officer and they’ll tell how frustrated they are at the constraints they have to operate under, including having to apologise when they name these groups or tackle them.

  • barnshee

    “better back in the day”

    When –what day?

  • Zeno

    “Civil War,”

    When was that?

  • Jag


  • Zeno

    First it was the War, then the armed struggle and then the conflict and now it’s the Civil War? All of them sound a bit grandiose for a sectarian squabble between two small tribes of extremists to be honest.

  • Jag

    Really? The Irish Civil War in 1922-23 claimed around the same number of lives as the Northern Ireland Civil War 1969-1998. That 1922-23 war was a “squabble” between those who supported a settlement with the British which saw the six counties hived off into Northern Ireland, and on the other hand, those who were opposed to it. Is the term “Irish Civil War” too grandiose for what happened in 1922-23?

    It is un-Republican to use the term “the Troubles” because it reduces to the level of a brouhaha something which otherwise meets what most people would independently characterise as a civil war. If the 1969-1998 Civil War were just “troubles” then the activities of combatants is simply reduced to pure terrorism and barbarity. Whilst all war is barbaric, Civil War is, in the main, not conducted by terrorists. The sustenance of the term “the Troubles” is British propaganda and its use should be rejected by Irish Republicans.

  • Jag

    Oh, and the English Civil War in the 17th century is believed to have claimed 85,000 in the wars themselves, out of a population of 5m.

    The Irish Civil War in 1922-23 claimed around 3,000 out of a population of around 3m.

    Why, other than for narrow political or propaganda purposes, wouldn’t you characterise the 1969-1998 NI Civil War as a civil war?

  • Zeno

    If a Civil War can be defined as small armed gangs of Republican and Loyalist Extremist terrorists murdering civilians for their own aims, you can call it a Civil War if you like.

  • Jag

    “extremist”, “terrorist”, “murdering” are certainly politically and propaganda-loaded terms and on a far subtler level, so is “civilians”.

    “Combatant” or “side” and “killing” would be the appropriate terms in the context of a civil war (which is presumably why some would prefer to refer to the “troubles” – after all, if someone brings an AK47 to a domestic argument, they’d be a monster or terrorist, and “troubles” is suggestive of that minor brouhaha).

    Again, it is un-Republican to use the term “troubles” and if you must, best to use it in this way: “what the British call the troubles”.

  • Zeno

    I’m not going to apply grandiose names to those who slaughtered civilians and carried out heinous acts of barbarity on men women and children.
    I know some people would like to have armed combatants and freedom fighters in a romantic narrative about a Civil War or Conflict or Armed Struggle. I’m not one of them. I’m like most other people who see it for what it was,

  • Jag

    “I’m not going to apply grandiose names to those who slaughtered civilians and carried out heinous acts of barbarity on men women and children.” Enough though about the British involvement in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings.

    Tell me though, what would be your characterisation of the following

    FARC (a) militants (b) terrorists (c) freedom fighters (d) rebels (e) separatists

    Tamil Tiger (a) militants (b) terrorists (c) freedom fighters (d) rebels (e) separatists

    Hamas (a) militants (b) terrorists (c) freedom fighters (d) rebels (e) separatists

    Chechen (a) militants (b) terrorists (c) freedom fighters (d) rebels (e) separatists

    IRA (a) militants (b) terrorists (c) freedom fighters (d) rebels (e) separatists

  • barnshee

    Combatant Implies ” combat” between clearly identified” combatants” Foe Versus Foe

    Perhaps you could identify who were the “combatants” who were involved in

    1 Murdering children who were inconveniently seated beside their parent in a car.
    2 Machine gunning patrons in a bar
    3 Murdering the attendees at a Remembrance Service
    4 Blowing up a bar and murdering the customers

    Thugs and murderers who picked soft targets and fled with brown stained trousers if a real “combatant” tuned up

  • barnshee

    List what they achieved and give a “body count”

    also add

    UVF militants? terrorists? freedom fighters?rebels?separatists?

    UDA militants? terrorists? freedom fighters? ?rebels?separatists?

  • barnshee

    Because the IRA skulked behind hedges and shot in the back -and then whined when they got some of their own medecine

  • Jag

    1. Don’t know the name of the US commander who operated that drone attack, sorry.
    2. Don’t know the name of that French partisan, and anyway that was WW2, sorry.
    3. Don’t know the names of those Chechen separatists, they did get the primary target though, Akhmad Kadyrov, though there were a lot of collateral casualties, sorry.
    4. Don’t know the names of the Israelis who carried out the King David Hotel bar bombing in 1946, 91 killed, awful, sorry.

  • Pasty2012

    The Unionist people of the Shankill Road in Belfast demand British Austerity and cuts to the DLA payments. It is only through cuts to benefits that tax cuts can be given to those earning over the £100,000 a year like the hard working Unionist MP’s and their families who work hard for them. Sinn Fein have denied the people of Ulster their right to British Austerity long Enough – END DLA, Vote DUP/UUP Vote Benefit Cuts Now !!!!

  • Zeno

    I don’t know enough about any of them except the IRA. I’ve seen their work. They were and still are a self elected terrorist group who slaughtered people to achieve their own aims, which seem to have been mostly Armani Suits, Eyebrow Waxing and jobs working for those hated Brits.

  • Stephen

    Do your Tory cohorts milk the system Jeffrey? Is a millionaire Tory MP claiming expenses to heat stables milking the system Jeffrey?

  • Glenn Clare

    Most of the Shankill is within west Belfast, and as I remember it the DUP voted against welfare reform at Parliament. That’s more than the shinners/provos will do.

    SO If you want to keep the DLA in west and north Belfast and want to fight welfare reform the republicans in west and north Belfast need to return a Unionist MP, who will fight welfare reform at the only place that matters.

    Vote DUP/UUP, keep the DLA!!!!!

  • Ian James Parsley

    There is the additional fundamental problem that merely turfing people on to benefits is not tackling poverty, but rather condemning people to it.

  • kalista63

    Sorry, do you think you’re being smart?

    You’re not.

  • barnshee

    Perhaps you could focus on the same incidents in NI and have another attempt at identifying the “combatants”

  • barnshee

    Sure good a milking the sysytem Not quite as organised as our MLA `s but up there with the best

  • barnshee

    The identify “the day” or days when were they?
    Surely not pre 1968

  • Jag

    That’s the point barnshee, NI is irrelevant.

    When you can’t see the wood from the trees, looking at someone else’s forest helps.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Spongers – end off.

  • murdockp

    How are the two issues even correlated. Is there are correlation both in NI and UK of people on anti depressants receiving DLA payments? I don’t think so.

  • murdockp

    The facts are the number of revolutionaries was small. Very small which is why Collins was magnificent in securing the deal he did. If the recession taught us on thing about irish people is they don’t take to the streets like the French and the Greeks to protest and riot. We get on with life either by staying here or emigrating abroad. The dispora is all the proof one needs.

    Yes irish independence was hard fought and well deserved. But it would be revisionist history to suggest that it had the support of the majority of the population. The numbers of revolutionaries were very small