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DWP recruits 180 presenting officers to cut ESA and PIP appeal success rates

The DWP has been given £22 million to recruit presenting officers in an effort to reduce the number of claimants winning their personal independence payment (PIP) and employment and support allowance (ESA) appeals.

The Office for Budget Responsibility’s (OBR) “Economic and Fiscal Outlook” document lists the following amount:

“£22 million to DWP to recruit presenting officers across 2016-17 to 2017-18 to support the department in personal independent payments and employment and support allowance tribunals.”

Buzzfeed is reporting that the money will pay for 180 new presenting officers.

The number of PIP appeals is expected to skyrocket over the coming two years as the forced move from DLA to PIP takes place.

In addition, the proportion of successful PIP appeals has increased with every quarter since the benefit was introduced. PIP claimants won in 60% of cases from July to September 2015, up from 56% in the previous quarter.

58% of ESA cases are also won by the claimant.

The DWP is also concerned by the way that tribunal judges have been interpreting the very badly drafted PIP legislation in favour of claimants. In particular, the widening of what counts as aids and appliances for PIP activities by judges is what led to the disastrous attempt to change the point scores for PIP.

In theory, presenting officers should act a s a ‘friend of the court’, helping judges to reach a fair decision. In reality, they will be sent by the DWP to try to discredit claimants and argue as forcibly as possible for the DWP’s interpretation of the law to be accepted.

Attending an appeal tribunal is likely to be an even more gruelling process for claimants over the next few years.

Comments  

+1 #9 Jim Allison 2016-03-24 22:04
Quoting BryanP:
This definitely does not sound good. If the presenting officers act like a "friend of the court" it negates any neutrality the court holds in the tribunals which would then lead to there being no point in HMCTS having any tribunals at all and just leave it to health assessments to provide the decisions (which they do anyway - no matter what they state which is why the courts service is involved - for the neutrality(allegedly)).


See Judge Martins comments in his role as Head of Tribunals Service :

Sec: 4. Judge Martin noted that only 16% of hearings are attended by a PO. He commented that the failure of DWP to attend tribunals had been raised in each of the President's reports since 2000-01 (when the attendance rate was 40%). He explained that non-attendance by DWP meant that the tribunal judges were often left to explain the department's case, which meant that the tribunal's "integrity and neutrality is compromised."[1 29] He also suggested that by not attending, DWP misses the opportunity to receive valuable feedback on the quality of its decision making.

+1 #8 donnamarie 2016-03-24 13:27
I am a bit confused , when they say that they are not making any more cuts does the lowering of the points for aids and adaptions for PIP still stand or noI if I have posted this in the wrong forum I apologise
#7 Jim Allison 2016-03-23 23:57
MS Society Comments on PIP reform.

Having had MS since 1986, I have contributed regularly to their website

Much of the information at https://www.mssociety.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/campaigns-blog/2016/03/watershed-moment-government-welfare-policy?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=CC%20PIP%20changes%20outcome%20email&utm_content=CC%20PIP%20changes%20outcome%20email%20CID_6acac7a19c306dd1d2e2f75e66ca5537&utm_source=m_emails&utm_term=proposed%20changes%20to%20Personal%20Independence%20Payments%20PIP%20wont%20go%20ahead was wrote by me and members of the MS Branches throughout the UK.
+2 #6 Jim Allison 2016-03-23 23:52
As stated by Steve the role of a Presenting Officer(PO) is that of 'amicus curie" friend of the Court.In recent years PO's were rarely seen at DLA Tribunals even up to when I retired as A Tribunal Member.

As Tribunals are now part of HMCTS, the old Tribunal Chairman are now Tribunal Judges. The Tribunal Judge in conjunction with the Medical Member & the Disability Member decide how the Tribunal will proceed.

Since becoming part of HMCTS, Tribunal Judges are from what I've seen becoming more tolerant to eliciting evidence from claimants. A Tribunal is a Court of Law, albeit a more informal one and Tribunals in the Social Chamber which hears DLA/PIP and ESA appeals have an inquisitorial role not a 'adversarial' role as in Court of Law. Although I'm some Tribunals do (unlawfully) stray into in adversarial roles, but it's rare from the DLA Tribunals I sat on for over 10 years, when PIP didn't exist. Cameron has stated in an earlier News item that PIP in it's current form. See PIP cuts will not go ahead ‘in their current form’ PM says


Tribunals reach decisions on the 'balance of probabilities' whilst Courts reach decisions which to be made beyond ' reasonable doubt'.
+1 #5 Jim Allison 2016-03-23 23:44
The Appeals Process

Attendance of DWP Presenting Officers

163. A presenting officer (PO) is usually an experienced Decision Maker (DM)who acts as a representative for the Secretary of State by attending appeals on his behalf. DWP outlined its policy for the attendance of POs at tribunals:

a) "where the facts and law are considered to be complex, for example where complex legal arguments have been raised or where contentious case law has been referred to;

b) where the appeal involves new legislation which needs a 'bedding in period' (this period will be determined by the complexity of the legislation);

a) At a First-tier Tribunal it can be a paper hearing or an oral hearing.

b) See above

c) at an Upper Tribunal rehearing (where that is to be an oral hearing); and

d) where directed to do so by the Tribunal Judge."[128]

PO's do not a have a legal right to be heard unless the Tribunal Judge agrees that they can speak, or when any of the 3 Tribunal Member, not just the Tribunal Judge seeks clarification of the law used to reach a decision.

Taking on just 180 New PO's is akin to an ink spot on a map there are hundreds of thousands of appeals for all SS Benefits, but mainly PO's only rarely attend DLA/PIP or ESA Tribunals and sit there and say very little. On the other hand, in the NW Regional Office which was my base, although I worked from home, there were some excellent PO's usually from the Bootle & Liverpool areas, much like the old BAMS

Hope this is of help.
+6 #4 BryanP 2016-03-22 22:04
This definitely does not sound good. If the presenting officers act like a "friend of the court" it negates any neutrality the court holds in the tribunals which would then lead to there being no point in HMCTS having any tribunals at all and just leave it to health assessments to provide the decisions (which they do anyway - no matter what they state which is why the courts service is involved - for the neutrality(alle gedly)).
+5 #3 sully32 2016-03-22 21:36
More bullying :sad: the tribunal is hard enough now [I know from first hand experience] :sad:
+3 #2 Porthole Pete 2016-03-22 19:17
Jesus! If one proposed kicking fails try another. Proof that there really is scum masquerading as human beings out there.
+7 #1 Black Dahlia 2016-03-22 17:11
This is a terrible set back to an already terrifying experience. Is this going to go to 38 degrees for a petition too? It sounds like we are going to need one.

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