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14 August 2007
The DWP has claimed that the success rate for DLA appeals has fallen from 50% to just 34% following changes to their working practices.

An article in the current edition of the Council on tribunals newsletter Adjust gives details of a pilot begun at Glasgow Disability Benefits Centre but now extended nationally.

Glasgow Disability Benefits Centre: improving the experience of customers

According to the authors, the DWP decided to address the overall 50% success rate for appeals. The high number of appeals won by DLA claimants has long been a source of embarrassment to the DWP. This is particularly the case as the 50% figure includes paper hearings, which have a low success rate, whilst at oral hearings the figure is nearer to 60% finding in favour of claimants.

The pilot involved improving the standard of submissions by'making much better use of the telephone and/or requesting the most appropriate form of medical evidence'.

In addition, DWP appeal writers have been holding feedback sessions with decision makers to explain why claimants appeals succeeded and a 'Quality and Advice Team' was set up to check decisions made by decision makers.

The DWP claim that as a direct result the proportion of appeals which the DWP lose has dropped to 34% in the Glasgow area and waiting times for appeals in the same area has fallen from 11 weeks to 8 weeks.

What the DWP have not made clear is whether the fall in the proportion of claimants winning appeals is due to more awards now being made prior to the appeal going forward or whether there has been a real fall in the overall success rate of DLA claims. In other words, are more claimants now getting an award without needing to appeal, leaving only those with the weakest cases to go to tribunals. Benefits and Work will be watching the figures for awards and appeals successes closely as they are published over the coming year.