Concerns have been raised by a welfare benefits specialist about misleading information in a DWP form.
Earlier this month we wrote about the DWP mandatory reconsideration form they don’t want you to use.
The 7 page form can be downloaded to your computer, filled in and then printed off, signed and sent to the DWP.
However, the form also tries to encourage people to phone and make a verbal request rather than complete the form. This is something we would strongly advise people not to do as it means you have no evidence of what you said or even of whether you asked for a reconsideration at all.
Since publishing the article we’ve been contacted by Neil Bateman, a specialist adviser in welfare rights and social policy.
He points out another troubling aspect of the form. On page three it encourages people to ask for an explanation before challenging a decision, because “This can be much quicker and if we find a mistake, we will look at our decision again.”
The next section goes on to say:
“If you’ve had the decision explained to you but still don’t agree with it, you can ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration.”
In fact, we have always advised people not to ask for an explanation because it can be used by the DWP as an opportunity to try to talk claimants out of challenging their decision.
But Neil is concerned that the form gives the impression that you can only ask for a reconsideration after you’ve had an explanation.
And indeed, in the past, claimants have wrongly been told by the DWP that they will cannot accept a mandatory reconsideration request unless the claimant has had an explanation of the decision first.
Neil told us:
“I thought we had killed off this bit of unlawful, obstructive behaviour a few years ago, but like an insidious virus, it recurs.
“It has been raised very recently with DWP via one of the policy fora and a response is awaited, but I thought you and your readers might be interested.”
So, please do be aware that there is no legal requirement to ask for an explanation prior to asking for a mandatory reconsideration, no matter how much the DWP would like you to believe otherwise.