This is because circa 1996, the old Invalidity Benefit was phased out and replaced with the new Incapacity Benefit. People were not necessarily switched from one to the other, however - I think there are still some people drawing Invalidity Benefit today, though no-one has been added to the role since 1996 at the latest. So, the Daily Mail might actually be telling the literal truth - there might only have been 67,000 people claiming Incapacity Benefit in 1997.
This doesn't clear them of the charge of being a lying shitrag, however, as they neglected to mention the 2 million+ people who were incapacitated and claiming Invalidity Benefit, and who have since been switched to Incapacity Benfit, accounting for the 'soaring' Incapacity Benefit role, post-1997. Whatever the name of the benefit, the numbers of those incapable of work have remained fairly static, ever since the mid-nineties, between about 2.25 and 2.5 million.
So what might have been a simple piece of incompetence now looks more and more like a deliberate attempt to mislead, by inciting a bit of anti-Labour 'Hell in a Handcart' sentiment amoung the lumpen-middle classes that read the Mail. In light of this, I'm not gonig to bother amending the title of yesterday's post. If they have not interest in reporting things fairly and informatively, why should I?
1 - As described previosuly on lefthandpalm: http://lefthandpalm.blogspot.com/2009/10/daily-mail-in-just-making-up-numbers.html