There has been a massive and unprecedented fall in the number of employment and support allowance (ESA) appeals according to official figures released today. ESA appeals lodged in the January to March 2014 quarter were down by 89% on the same period last year.{jcomments on}

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Overall, the number of benefits appeals is 59% lower this quarter than last quarter and 79% lower than the same quarter last year. It is the most dramatic drop in appeal numbers since records began to be kept.

The huge backlog of PIP and ESA assessments has undoubtedly played a apart in the fall in appeal numbers, as has the introduction of the mandatory revision before appeal system for ESA and other benefits on 28 October 2013.

The big question now is whether appeal numbers will begin to recover as mandatory reconsiderations by the DWP are completed and claimants who are not successful move on to lodging their appeal.

However, as yet the DWP have failed to undertake any sort of research into whether the new system effectively discourages claimants from going all the way to appeal. This is in spite of request from Judge Martin, the outgoing president of the tribunals service social welfare chamber, that they do so.

Discouraging claimants may work by, for example, telephoning them as part of the process and trying to persuade them that the DWP’s decision was correct and any challenge will fail. Other tactics, such as failing to register mandatory reconsideration requests, not making appeal forms available with the mandatory reconsideration decision letters and setting strict time limits both for asking for a reconsideration and then for lodging an appeal may also have helped to cut appeal numbers.

You can download the latest statistics here.


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