Claimants are waiting a year just to have their case allocated to an investigator as the DWP’s Independent Case Examiner (ICE) is overwhelmed by a tidal wave of legitimate complaints, an answer to an MP’s written question has revealed this month.
ICE takes on complaints when a claimant has exhausted the DWP’s internal complaints procedure and is still unhappy with the response.
Complaints can be about issues such as:
- failure to follow proper procedures
- excessive delays
- poor customer service
Ice can tell the DWP to, for example, to pay benefits that have been unfairly refused and also to make ‘consolatory payments’ of hundreds of pounds where a claimant has been treated especially unfairly.
However, according to a response to a recent MP’s question, there has been a 17% increase in the number of complaints made to ICE in the year to March 2022.
In itself that is not a huge increase. The massive increase is in the proportion of cases that ICE has agreed to look into. This has increased by an extraordinary 68% in the last year
What this means is that ICE is receiving a great deal more complaints where it where it believes that there is a case to answer than it was previously.
As a result there are now 1,249 cases waiting for an ICE investigator to be allocated. The average time this currently takes is 53 weeks. That’s over a year before an investigation even begins,
And in all probability the claimant will already have spent many months working their way through the DWP’s own complaints procedure.
ICE are taking on more staff to try to reduce the backlog.
If you wish to contact ICE yourself, you can find out more here.