The DWP is still considering stopping payments of employment and support allowance to claimants who challenge a decision that they are fit for work, instead forcing them to sign on for jobseeker’​s allowance.

The government’​s response to a public consultation on the mandatory reconsideration before appeal provision in the Welfare Reform Act 2012 has been published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Significantly it fails to address the issue of payment of employment and support allowance (ESA) pending a reconsideration of an ESA decision, and does not accept the arguments put forward that time limits for the processing of reconsideration requests by the DWP are required.

The issue of payment ESA pending reconsideration remains outstanding. The DWP confirm that no decision had been made by the government about payment of ESA when a claimant requests a revision but it does point out that “​other benefits may be available to claimants where ESA has been disallowed”​.

In relation to time limits for the processing of claimants requests for reconsiderations by the DWP, the government has not accepted that a statutory target is required. It is instead looking at proposals for internal indicators and monitoring of decision-makers performance to ensure reconsiderations are processed without “​unreasonable delays”​.

Claimants will only be contacted by telephone to explain an initial decision on a claim. The outcome of decisions on reconsiderations will be made in writing and will include information about appeal rights.

The proposal to introduce “​direct lodgement”​ of appeals with the Tribunals Service is still being worked on by the DWP and Her Majesty'​s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS). Acknowledgement of receipt of appeals by HCMTS will continue under the new procedure.

The DWP is looking at its approach to providing presenting officers at appeals. Commenting that legal aid reform is the responsibility of the Ministry of Justice in response to issues raised about the impact of funding cuts and representation at appeals the DWP state that:

“​The appeal process is designed to be accessible, inquisitorial, and user-friendly. This means that appellants can generally present their case without assistance. For appeals to the First-tier Tribunal with respect to welfare benefits, the appellant is required only to provide reasons for disagreeing with the decision in plain language.”​

The DWP will apparently provide assistance to claimants to identify additional evidence to support their revision requests but emphasis is placed by the DWP on claimants’​ responsibility for collecting evidence to support their claim.

In response to concerns in respect of decision-makers knowledge of mental health issues, the government refers only to the fact that decision-makers can seek advice from Atos healthcare professionals about particular health problems.

If a request for a revision is made out of time and the decision maker refuses to grant an extension of time, claimants will not be able to appeal. In determining whether or not to grant an extension of time decision makers will consider how reasonable it is to allow the late request and will look at the individual circumstances of each case.

Housing benefit and council tax benefit claims remain excluded from the mandatory reconsideration of decisions and direct lodgement of appeals procedures.

The consultation response can be found here



Write comments...
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.

Be the first to comment.

We use cookies

We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.