Friday, 13 June 2014

DWP still...

First it was Universal Credit [UC], then it was the Disability Living Allowance [DLA], then it was Employment and Support Allowance [ESA] and now it is the Personal Independence Payment [PIP], to say that the Department of Work & Pensions is in chaos is an understatement!

New evidence has emerged of serious delays with the roll-out of the government's new PIP, after the parents of a disabled teenager told how he had been left for months without his disability benefits. They have been waiting nearly three months without any communication from Atos Healthcare, the company carrying out the PIP assessments in London and the south of England.

This is hardly surprising as Atos quits contract!

Attempts to tighten up scrutiny of disability claimants have also been thrown into chaos after the government's key provider of work capability assessments pulled out of the contract a year earlier than expected.

This week's concerns have alarmed disabled campaigners, who fear they are further signs that the entire reform process ' in which working-age disability living allowance is slowly being replaced by the new PIP ' is in trouble.

A DWP spokesman said: 'We will not comment on individual cases."

Atos has refused to comment, but its problems with both its PIP and DLA assessment work appear to be mounting.

DWP had to delay the start of the PIP reassessment process from 7 - 28 October, after the then minister for disabled people, Esther McVey, was forced by a judicial review taken by disabled people to order a new consultation on proposals to tighten the walking distance criteria for the PIP enhanced mobility rate from 50 to 20 metres. DWP was then forced to order further delays to the reassessment of many existing DLA claimants, with nearly all of the reassessments due to take place in Atos areas delayed. DWP decision-makers have also been left without expert medical advice for their more difficult DLA and attendance allowance claims, after Atos withdrew from much of the contract.

The DWP is overturning more than half of its own decisions in relation to some benefits. 

This has been revealed by Judge Robert Martin the outgoing president of the social entitlement chamber which deals with benefits tribunals. The DWP itself has yet to publish any statistics about the 'mandatory reconsideration before appeal' system introduced last year.

'Mandatory reconsideration before appeal' was introduced for personal independence payment (PIP) and universal credit (UC) from April 2013 and, for other benefits, for decisions made on or after 28 October 2013. It means that before a claimant can appeal a decision they have to ask for it to be looked at again by the DWP. Only once they receive written notification of the result of the reconsideration can they lodge an appeal, if they are unhappy with the revised decision.

The figures for reconsideration success were given by Judge Martin in the April edition of the Judicial Information Bulletin, which goes out to all tribunal members.

According to the judge, by 21st February 2014 the DWP had received 82,798 mandatory reconsideration requests and made a decision in 70% of cases, with decisions taking on average 13 days from the date they were received.

DLA decisions overturned 55.9%
ESA decisions overturned 23.0%
JSA decisions overturned 30.1%
PIP decisions overturned 13.9%
UC decisions overturned 71.1%

It is extraordinary that the DWP is overturning a massive 71% of its own decisions in relation to UC, but at least they have the excuse that it's a new benefit. But to be getting it wrong in more than half of all DLA decisions is even more astonishing.

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