Ipsos MORI (a market research company) Correspondence


Correspondence of a patient with Ipsos MORI to try and understand the DWP satisfaction and other statistics.

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Ipsos MORI (a market research company) Correspondence

Letters Emails and Dates

You can click on a date to link to the item on this page.

IPSOS Mori25 November 2009LetterFrom the DWPOpinion Poll request to take part.
 25 NovemberLetterTo the DWPOpinion Poll response agree on terms.
 2 DecemberEmailFrom Ipsos MoriOpinion poll explain the how.
 2 DecemberEmailTo Ipsos MoriOpinion poll agree if my terms met.
 3 DecemberLetterFrom the DWPOpinion poll, in law, claimant not customer.
 3 DecemberEmailFrom Ipsos MoriOpinion poll excluded; suggests partial biased.


The IPSOS Mori is a research organisation that the DWP has used. I was concerned at the high satisfaction levels of DWP claimants and wondered whether this accurately reflected the opinions of claimants. The following by the IES seems to be typical of the rigour required. NB this is an 80 page report on 40 claimants out of 3 million plus claimants.

2 March 2010 – Publication of DWP research report 631: Employment and Support Allowance: early implementation experiences of customers and staff.

... This report represents the first stage of the evaluation of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and presents the findings from an early implementation study. It is based on fieldwork carried out between May and July 2009 in four Jobcentre Plus districts across Great Britain. Approximately 40 staff working on ESA, and 40 customers who had applied for ESA, were interviewed...

After the email correspondence, I was surprised to find exactly what I had asked for in a 286 page document "Evaluation of Employment and Support Allowance Technical Report published 9 April 2011.

...The survey was made up of two waves. At wave one, 3,650 face-to-face interviews were conducted using Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing (CAPI) between 5 December 2009 and 28 February 2010. At wave two, 1,842 interviews were conducted with those who agreed to be re-contacted at wave one using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI) between 26 July 2010 and 19 September 2010.

...Those with a terminal illness at the time of claim, those with missing contact details (known as clerical claims), and those who had not yet appeared in the MSRS database in mid-October 2009, because of time lags in adding up-to-date information on ESA claims to the database, were excluded from the study...

...Those in the final outcome groups, i.e. Fit for Work, Support Group and Work-Related Activity Group, were oversampled for the reasons described in section 1.1....

It does seems odd that those in process, those before assessment and those who were in the process of appeal were included.

Consider the data for the month of July 2009; 77% were in process, 8% were before assessment, 6% were claim closed; 6% were "Fit For Work", 2% were "Work Related Activity Group" and 1% were "Support Group".

I suggest, especially with the disproportionate appeals figures published by the DWP, that many "claim closed", "fit for work" and "WRAG" claimants will appeal and just less than half will win their appeals.

I suggest the major conclusion should be that the "support group" (1%) are satisfied with the outcome and the rest (99%) are dissatisfied. It is strange that my understanding of the DWP press releases relating to claimant satisfaction are not in line with these figures.

My ESA(C) claim took two years two months. I cannot find any statistics for the number of claims that are resolved in the first year, the second year etc.

"You pay the piper, you choose the tune."

Extract from letter from the DWP - 25 November 2009

A new DWP office "the opinion poll people" entered the arena and sent me a letter dated 20 November.

I may be wrong and paranoid but I suspect it is the classic opinion poll "lead the public by the nose" proven management technique. At one time every senior management course that I attended seemed to mention how important it was in turning around a negative perception. I used to enjoy the "old" opinion poll "slight of hand" myself. It was so easy. Done well it cannot be proved.

You choose an "independent" polling company (they all are independent of course). You brief them and let them know how much future work you would like to put their way. Of course you must never tell them what results you actually want even outside the office in a meeting on a park bench in Green Park. They are usually bright enough to work this out for themselves. You assist them in choosing who to sample, a few "negative" always swamped by "not negative". You assist them in what questions to ask. You assist them (as they are not experts in the services of your company) in understanding the replies (disregarding those outside the confidence spread --- a wonderful approach to add weight around "mean"). You know the results you want. It is just a case of making sure the report passes sanity checks so it cannot be dismissed out of hand. This can be difficult and it was worth paying for experts for this.

If only I was well enough to write a book on the Black Arts of Statistics as applied to Marketing, I might make a fortune.

Understanding your experiences of applying for benefits

We are currently looking at ways to improve customers' experiences of sickness-related benefits, and hope you will heIp us in shaping policies on this important issue. We understand that you have recently made an application for a sickness-related benefit. It does not matter if you have not yet gone through the whole process, or have already withdrawn your application. We are still interested in hearing about your views.

We have commissioned Ipsos MORI and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) to carry out this study on our behalf. Both organisations are completely independent of the Government and political parties.

In the next few weeks, an interviewer from Ipsos MORI will be calling you or visiting you at the above address Unfortunately, they can not arrange specific dates or times for interviews, but don't worry if you are not home when the interviewer calls or arrives. He or she will try again at another time.

All Ipsos MORI interviewers wear identification badges with their photo. Please only allow people who carry this official identification into your home. You may have a family member, friend or carer present during the interview if you wish.

Everything you tell Ipsos MORI will of course be treated in complete confidence - no personal views or information will be passed to anyone outside the research team without your prior approval. More importantly, nothing you say will affect any current or future dealings you may have with the Department for Work and Pensions, Jobcentre Plus, or any other Government departments. Importantly, the information you provide will not affect the benefits you receive, either now or in the future.

I do hope that you feel able to take part in this survey. However, if you need assistance to help you take part, or feel that you do not want to be interviewed, please call J... from Ipsos MORI on the freephone number 0808 ... ... or email her at J... at ipsos.com. By giving us the reference number on this letter during the call or in the email, you will help us deal with your queries as quickly as possible.

We look forward to speaking to you.

My comments above reflect my direct personal experience of what was, and may be still is, common practice in exploiting the power of opinion polls. I have no knowledge of the work of Ipsos MORI (http://www.ipsos-mori.com/) and Institute for Employment Studies (IES) (http://www.employment-studies.co.uk/) and I certainly have no evidence that matters are other than stated in the letter.

I recommend using the search button on the the DWP News Room (http://www.dwp.gov.uk/newsroom/press-releases/). Check the results for search term "IES" and for search term "Ipsos MORI". Both appear to have undertaken a lot of work for the DWP. Judge for yourselves.

Extract from letter to the DWP - 25 November 2009

My reply to the opinion poll letter.

Regarding your letter dated 20 November 2009 which I received on 25 November 2009.

... I am never at home to pollsters, hawkers or other such callers. I am even more disinclined now that I am terminally ill and of less than robust constitution.

Notwithstanding, if there is additional information that Ipsos MORI requires, I will respond to questions submitted in writing, providing, of course, that the symptoms of my terminal primary brain tumour allows me to. I have periods of weakness and extreme tiredness so how quickly I can respond is not certain.

I would appreciate a reply that you have received this letter...

I did send an email to the Ipsos MORI contact a copy of the letter I sent to the DWP together with a cover note highlighting the treatment I have received and the location of this web page. I included the following comment.

... I hope you are independent, honest etc. Frankly my experience of the DWP and Atos Healthcare suggests that you are another shill.

Feel free to publish this as part of the report. I am not concerned about complete confidence...publish away. I am dying what more harm can you guys do to me. In time injustice will be overcome. Maybe a future Nurmberg Doctors type trial will hang the abusers of the dying, the sick, the disabled and their carers. ...

I received an email reply on the same day as the Ipsos MORI contact returned from leave.

Thank you for contacting me. I am very sorry that you have had such a terrible experience, and I will remove your name from our contact list and ensure that none of our interviewers disturb you at your home.

I would like to clarify that Ipsos MORI is entirely independent of government - we were commissioned by DWP to conduct the survey but otherwise we are not connected with the Department. We do not have personal information about your condition or your medical or benefit records. We also have no connection with Atos Healthcare.

I may be misreading this but this looks like a result for the DWP in that a negative opinion has been excluded from the survey. In addition no promise has been given to publish my comments as part of the report. I expected this.

Like in chess when you know what the next move your opponent will make and you place your reply in a sealed envelop. It does not appear to need the foresight of a chess master to see what the results of the survey will say. I hope I am proved wrong and Ipsos MORI will reveal the full details of the mismanagement, canker and decay that my experience suggests lies at the heart of the services delivered by Atos Healthcare for the DWP. History teaches us there are few individuals who would put their head above the parapet and do what is right regardless of the personal cost.

I sent a further email to the contact at Ipsos MORI. I would like to see the mathematical basis of the method to see that their sampling was fair. I do not know how you would frame a survey to include the posthumous views of the claimants who have died or even of those who are seriously ill. How about those of the third of people with autism who have no job and have been denied allowances. I know how polling was done in Soviet era collective farms. It will interesting to see how it is done in these enlightened times.

Thank you for replying. I have updated my web page with extracts of our correspondence. The sections that refer to the survey are located subsequent to .... http://www.whywaitforever.com/dwpatosletters.html#DWP20091125F If you feel I have made a factual error please let me know. If you would like me to publish a further comment from you or Ipsos MORI, I will consider and try and oblige.

I think you can demonstrate your independence if you confirm that you will both include me in the survey and you agree to publish in an explanatory note to the report the above web page address annotating this note as a particular (maybe atypical) response.

No answer has yet been received. I expect the DWP and Atos Healthcare time distortion algorithm applies e.g. 2 days and 20 days means weeks and months.

Unfortunately my personal symptoms are getting worse which makes reporting the correspondence increasingly difficult. I am sure this will please the DWP and Atos Healthcare.

Extract from email from Ipsos MORI - 2 December 2009 10:16

The email reply from Ipsos MORI.

We would like to interview you for this research. I apologise if I misinterpreted your first e-mail. Once the survey is completed, we will merge all the responses given. The report will quote the percentage of people answering each question. It will not be identifying which individual said what and we will not be able to link the content to any websites.

If you are happy to be interviewed then one of our interviewers will visit you in the next few weeks and ask you some questions about your medical condition, work history and experience with ESA. Alternatively, if you do not wish to be interviewed, then please let me know and I will ensure that you are not called.

If you have any further queries, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Extract from email to Ipsos MORI - 2 December 2009 15:18

My email response to the email from Ipsos MORI.

Thank you for replying. I am happy to take part in the survey on the condition that the survey questions are submitted to me in writing in an email. I will respond in writing within 2 days of receipt by email. I presume you are not willing to do this and that you prefer to keep your questions secret and so not allow any independent evaluation which may conclude that there is built in bias in the way you have constructed the survey. I leave it to you to include me on my terms or to exclude me.

As my old Maths Professor at Imperial College, who taught me stats and probability, used to say, never trust any survey where notes are not published along with the survey that describes the mathematical algorithms used in first creating representative unbiased sampling data, sources of bias and how they are handled, inclusions and exclusions. There was a lot more most of which I have forgotten.

I look forward to reading the results of your survey including the associated notes. Impress me. Prove to me that in truth you are independent. It would be even better if you can get a Maths professor from Imperial, or LSE or other Russell Group University to verify that your survey conforms to current best practice and so is unbiased, honest, independent etc, I will eat umble pie. Yes I would owe you and would be delighted to give you the maximum positive publicity that I am able.

Numerately Yours

Ipsos MORI may be independent but this should reveal whether they feel they can reveal how they ensure that they are honest and unbiased.

Extract from letter from the DWP - 3 December 2009

A letter dated 1 December 2009 was received from the DWP Senior research officer responsible for the research to be undertaken by Ipsos MORI.

Thank you for your letter dated 25 November 2009, which I received on 27 November 2009. I have passed your comments on to Ipsos MORI , who are carrying out research on the Employment and Support Allowance on our behalf.

Extract from email from Ipsos MORI - 3 December 2009 10:44

The email reply from Ipsos MORI.

The survey is being conducted by trained interviewers using computer aided personal interviewing (CAPI) machines. This approach is being adopted for all interviews to ensure consistency in how we collect the data, and was chosen because it is the most inclusive approach. This means that we are unable to send you the questions and have you respond in writing. I will, however, make sure that you are not contacted by our interviewers in relation to this research.

To me this strongly suggests more marketing puff. Notice the use of the word independent. The wine bar around the corner from the DWP offices in Tothill Street is independent and yet DWP are customers. Notice no attempt to claim to be honest or unbiased.

When the results of this survey are published, I expect to see a press release published by the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions to say words to the effect: "...The DWP is proud to announce the results of their partial, biased, unrepresentative survey carried out independently by Ipsos MORI and ... We are pleased that the level of numeracy is such that some people will give these results credence..."