The latest statistics from the Ministry of Justice show that, for the first time, more personal independence payment (PIP) appeals are being lodged than employment and support allowance (ESA)appeals. The success rates for claimants appealing a PIP decision have also increased dramatically.
Appeal numbers begin to climb
In the first quarter of 2015/16 the number of ESA appeals lodged was 13,502. But in the same quarter 14,751 PIP appeals were lodged, making PIP the most appealed benefit for the first time.
ESA appeals have fallen from a high of 111,795 in the first quarter of 2013/14 to a low of 8,703 in the first quarter of 2014/15 and have since begun rising slowly again to their current level.
The massive drop is primarily due to the introduction of the mandatory revision before appeal system, which makes it much harder to get to the stage of lodging an appeal.
Overall, tribunal numbers are on the rise again, however, after a massive slump following the introduction of mandatory reconsideration before appeal.
They fell from a high of 160,077 lodged in the first quarter of 2013/14, down to 22,687 in the first quarter of 2014/15. In the first quarter of 2015/16 they had risen to 38,828.
This is still less than a quarter of the previous level and what is still not clear is how many mandatory reconsiderations are taking place and what proportion of those are successful.
More claimants win their appeals
Disability living allowance (DLA) appeal success rates for claimants have risen over time, although the number of appeals decided has fallen dramatically.
In the first quarter of 2013/14, the success rate for DLA claimants was 40% of 16,229 appeals. This has risen to 56% of claimants winning 2,435 appeals in the first quarter of 2015/16.
The picture for ESA is very similar.
ESA success rates have risen from 42% of 77,289 appeals in the first quarter of 2013/14up to 58% of 12,101 appeals in the first quarter of 2015/16.
PIP success rates for claimants have risen from 26% of 81 appeals in quarter 4 of 2013/14 – the first time there were any PIP appeals - to 57% of 7,931 appeals in the first quarter of 2015/16.
The proportion of claimants who have won their PIP appeal has risen every quarter until they are now on a par with DLA and ESA appeals.
This is puzzling.
Mandatory reconsideration mystery
Mandatory reconsideration before appeal was introduced for PIP in April 2013 and for DLA and ESA in October 2013.
This should mean that all the most obvious wrong decisions by the DWP are overturned before they ever get to appeal. This should mainly leave the less likely to succeed and hardest to judge appeals going forward to tribunal.
In those circumstances you would expect the DWP’s success rate to increase. It is undoubtedly what the DWP expected to happen. Instead it has fallen considerably.
It is clear we need to know a lot more about what is happening at the mandatory reconsideration and appeal stage. But, as ever, the DWP are trying to keep those figures as vague and inaccessible as possible.
Benefits and Work is now attempting to obtain more information about mandatory reconsiderations. Meanwhile, the message is clear: appealing is very definitely not a waste of time.