17 October 2010

Queue of peopleThe number of benefits claimant waiting for an appeal hearing is rising remorselessly, mainly as a result of the introduction of employment and support allowance, figures released by the Tribunals Service have revealed.

In the first quarter of 2009 the number of outstanding social security and child support cases was 68,500. In the first quarter of 2010 this had risen to a stunning 158,000.

During the same period there has been a 128% increase in the number of ESA appeals lodged with the Tribunals Service, up from 21,800 to 45,400 – around 3,500 a week. This compares with around 1,300 appeals a week lodged for DLA/AA.

Even though tribunals are now clearing 60,000 cases in a quarter, this may still leave claimants with something like a six month wait for their hearing after the DWP refer it to the Tribunals Service.  In fact, recent posts in the Benefits and Work forum suggest that the time from lodging an appeal to having it decided for any benefit is edging closer and closer to a year.

Member justme, for example, lodged their ESA appeal in January and had to wait until this month to have their successful tribunal hearing whilst stephen27 had his incapacity benefit stopped in January and has only just had it reinstated by an appeal panel.

The DWP have also revealed that they currently have a backlog of 29,000 ESA appeals which have been lodged but not yet passed on by them to the Tribunals Service.

There is some good news for ESA claimants, however.  The proportion of successful ESA appeals has risen from 27% in the first three months of 2009 to 39% in the first three months of 2010.  This compares with a fall in success rates of DLA/AA appeals from 43% to 39% in the same period.


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