Reply to written question :

Jonathan Djanogly (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (HM Courts Service and Legal Aid), Justice;​ Huntingdon, Conservative)

Her Majesty'​s Courts and Tribunals Service has continued to respond strongly to the significant increase in appeal cases received by the First-tier Tribunal-Social Security and Child Support. It is working hard to increase the capacity of the SSCS tribunal and reduce waiting times. It has implemented a range of measures which include

recruiting more judges and medical panel members;​
increasing administrative resources and streamlining processes;​
securing additional hearing venues across the country;​
increasing the number of cases listed in each tribunal session;​
running double shifts in its largest processing centre;​
running Saturday sittings in some of the busiest venues;​
reviewing all information for appellants to ensure that it is as clear and comprehensive as possible, and setting up a customer contact centre to deal with telephone enquiries.

All of this is having a positive effect. The total number of disposals has increased significantly from 279,000 in 2009-10 to 380,000 in 2010-11 and the tribunal expects to have disposed of around 435,000 appeals in 2011-12, with the capacity for half a million disposals in 2012-13. Disposals outstripped receipts for the 12 months between January 2011 and December 2011, and the number of cases waiting to be heard reduced by over 44,000 between April and December 2011. The average waiting time has stabilised nationally, and is beginning to fall across many venues.

Work is ongoing to increase the tribunal'​s capacity further, including the recruitment of additional judges and medical members;​ review and continuous improvement of administrative processes both internally and between HMCTS and the Department for Work and Pensions;​ including implementation of Section 102 of the Welfare Reform Act 2012 which creates the opportunity for additional improvements to business processes.

Source: Hansard 19 June 2012


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