The DWP’s attempts to make it as difficult as possible to appeal a benefits decision appear to be succeeding, according to the latest tribunal statistics released today. There has been a drop of 92% in employment and support allowance (ESA) appeals and 93% in Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) appeals in April to June 2014 compared to the same period last year.
A new system of mandatory reconsiderations before appeals was introduced by the DWP for ESA and JSA on 28 October 2013.
Claimants who wish to challenge a decision must first ask to have it looked at again before they can then appeal direct to a tribunal. In practice, the DWP are allowing local decision makers to look at the decision again and then the decision is sent on to a different team for a further reconsideration before the claimant can appeal, if they are still unhappy with the decision. Whilst claimants are still bound by strict time limits, the DWP can take as long as they please to carry out reconsiderations.
Some of the reduction in appeal numbers is likely to be due to decisions being changed in favour of the claimant at the reconsideration stage.
However, figures have yet to be published by the DWP to show how many reconsiderations result in a change of decision.
The strong possibility remains, therefore, that many thousands of claimants are being left waiting for months for their reconsideration to take place whilst others fail to successfully lodge an appeal because the system is now so complex.