14 June 2007
The time allowed to complete a DLA claim pack is to be slashed from six weeks to two weeks automatic backdating from the date the claim is received by the DWP.
The change will be introduced as soon as a suitable bill to which the amendment can be attached is put before parliament.
The new rules will put considerable pressure on claimants to complete and return the pack in a hurry: every day they delay is a day's lost benefits if their claim is successful. It is likely to mean that fewer claimants will seek help in completing the pack from an advice agency, where a wait of several weeks to get an appointment may not be unusual. They are also less likely to obtain supporting evidence before submitting a claim. A claim completed in haste, without advice and without supporting evidence will be much easier for the DWP to reject.
The department insists that the change simplifies claims processing and removes an 'unjustifiable unfairness that may give rise to litigation', because not all claimants obtain double dated claim packs. Benefits and Work is not aware of any legal action having taken place in this regard in the entire history of DLA.
The DWP also claims that the change 'sends a powerful message that the Government is committed to joined-up services, across society'. Many claimants, on the other hand, may consider that it sends a powerful message that the government has now become extremely adept at introducing a raft of small measures, such as changes to the DLA claim pack itself and forcing claimants to spend hours on hold at regional call centres, which taken together will prove very effective at reducing the number of successful claims.