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21 March 2011

An influential statutory body has called for the DWP to be forced to respond to appeals within 42 days.  They have also called for the system to be changed so that appeals are lodged directly with the tribunals service rather than with the DWP as soon as possible and no later than 2014.

The Administrative Justice and Tribunals Council (AJTC), which replaced the Council on Tribunals, has produced a report entitled ‘Time for action.  A report on the absence of a time limit for decision makers to respond to social security appeal tribunals.’

It is damning of the time taken by the DWP to respond for appeals and suggests that reconsiderations may be being used to try to cover up the lengthy delays in cases going to tribunal.  This is something that is likely to be exacerbated by the provision in the current welfare reform bill for mandatory reconsideration of decisions before a claimant will even be permitted to lodge an appeal.

The AJTC points out that a very high proportion of ESA cases in particular are won by the claimant and that:

“The issues highlighted in these case studies serve as a useful reminder of the legal maxim “justice delayed is justice denied”.  It should be remembered that the individuals in these cases are likely to be less able than many others to cope with the increasing waiting times to get their appeals to a hearing.”

You can download the full report from this link