DWP: "Huge reduction in benefit dispute waiting times"

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DarthVector

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Apparently, the DWP are using the mandatory reconsideration system to reduce the tribunal backlog for appeals. DWP press release here:

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/huge-reduction-in-benefit-dispute-waiting-times

Although the press release refers to working age benefits in general, there is a paragraph that talks about ESA in particular:

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The latest statistics show that the proportion of people appealing to a tribunal against ESA decisions have dropped sharply by 86% between July and September 2014 compared to the same period last year.

This doesn't say if people are getting their claims approved on reconsideration, so that they don't need to go to a tribunal, or if they're being rejected again and giving up without going to a tribunal.

There is also the possibility of a pre-election tactic here: the DWP could be deliberately reducing the tribunal backlog by temporarily increasing the claim approval rate, so that they can say that their "reforms are working." In that case, business as usual with protracted appeal processes would be expected to resume after the election.

The press release links to a statistical document:

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/385759/tribunal-grc-statistics-quarterly-jul-sep-2014.pdf

One interesting tidbit is the fact that appeal cases which do reach a Social Security and Child Support Tribunal - which include disability benefit cases - are taking 9 weeks longer to clear on average (see page 18). The average time to clear a case from receiving the appeal to notifying the claimant of a decision is now 28 weeks.

I'm trying not to make comparisons with the zombie movie "28 Weeks Later"...

Finally, page 18 also notes that:

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...appeals must be sent directly to HMCTS (known as direct lodgement)...

If claimants have to submit appeal documents to the Tribunal Service themselves, as this seems to imply, instead of appealing to the DWP and having the DWP do the paperwork, then that might account for a reduction in appeals going to tribunal. People might simply be scared off by having to handle the bureaucracy on their own.

Monic1511

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Darth
this is a personal opinion but I think that lots of people are not submitting appeals as they believe that the result of the MR is final and don't seem to read the paperwork.  People come to my work wanting to appeal and are told they have to submit an mandatory reconsideration, that depresses them and makes it harder to get them to come back when they get the result of the MR.  especially if its a negative result.  The actual appeal letter doesn't need much info on it but its getting harder to get folk to sign it and unfortunately we can't chase every client. 
I think its a matter of making sure they know that they have the right to an appeal and although appeals can be scary you have nothing to lose (more often than not) by going to appeal.

Monic

Sunny Clouds

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One of the things that I think is brilliant is the way that more and more foodbanks seem to be giving advice on benefits and appeals. 
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

DarthVector

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Thank you, Monic. That makes sense, and it's useful to have it in context.

One of the things that I think is brilliant is the way that more and more foodbanks seem to be giving advice on benefits and appeals. 

I hadn't heard about that, but I'm glad that they're doing it.

Sunny Clouds

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They don't all do it by a long chalk and who knows what quality of advice they give, but it's a growing trend from what I can see.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)