The chances of a getting a successful mandatory reconsideration for employment and support allowance (ESA) have plummeted from 70% to 12% since the system was introduced figures released by the DWP show. But the type of decision being challenged makes big difference, with fit for work decisions being very unlikely to be overturned compared with those fighting to be moved from the work-related activity group (WRAG) to the support group.
Mandatory reconsiderations were introduced for employment and support allowance in October 2013.
By April 2016 there had been 308,400 mandatory reconsiderations requested. The number registered each month is rising, up from 9,400 in May 2015 to 13,600 in April 2016.
A decision has been made in 306,500 mandatory reconsiderations for ESA in total.
Just 20% (58,700) of these resulted in the decision being changed. Where a decision is changed this is overwhelmingly in favour of the claimant, with fewer than 2% being less favourable.
However, over time the number of decisions that have been changed has fallen, so that now just 11% of decisions are being revised.
The fall in success rates has been dramatic.
- In April 2014 70% of decisions were revised.
- In April 2015 this had plummeted to 16.5%.
- In April 2016 this had fallen further, to 12%.
The only explanation given for this by the DWP is that:
“Due to a combination of low numbers of registrations and time needed for new operational practices to settle down, the proportion of MR decisions which were initially revised and allowed was quite high.”
So, if you ask for a mandatory reconsideration, overall there is only an 11% chance that any change will be made.
But that figure can be broken down further.
If you are placed in the work-related activity group and ask for a mandatory reconsideration because you think you should be in the support group, there is a 47% chance that you will be successful. However, there is also a small, 3%, chance that you will lose your award of ESA altogether.
If you have a work capability assessment and are found fit for work and then ask for a mandatory reconsideration, there is only a 10% chance that the decision will be changed in your favour.
If you are found fit for work because you missed an appointment or failed to attend your WCA, then you have a 29% chance of getting the decision overturned at mandatory reconsideration stage.
So, for claimants trying to get from the WRAG to the support group, mandatory reconsideration holds out a reasonable prospect of success. But for claimants found capable of work, it is generally just a stage you have to get through before going on to a tribunal.
Fortunately, if you do go on to appeal to a tribunal, the odds of succeeding – at around 58% to 59% - are very much better.