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The vast majority of appeals were lost by the Government last year and early indications now show the problem is becoming even worse in 2017.

The figures quoted below – and in the source article for which there is a link at the bottom – represent only a part of what the Department for Work and Pensions is spending on pushing as many people as possible (not just the sick and disabled) off of social security benefits.

Yes, the costs quoted here are bad enough, but what about the amount spent hiring private companies to run sickness and disability benefit assessments? It has long been established that they are expected to refuse a high percentage of applications, whether the claimant deserves the payments or not.

And what about the latest version of Workfare? What is it called now?

Add it all up and you’ll find the total cost comes to far more than £40 million, I reckon.

Ministers have spent almost £40m in an “appalling” attempt to stop sick and disabled people receiving the financial help they are entitled to.

Freedom of Information requests have exposed how taxpayers’ money has been spent on futile legal battles to prevent vulnerable people receiving help.

The hit to the public purse could also be far higher than the new data suggests because it is still unclear how much more the state spends running courts where sanctions are challenged.

The vast majority of appeals were lost by the Government last year, making the expense appear unnecessary. Early indications now show the problem is becoming even worse in 2017, with a 77 per cent rise in money spent trying to stop people from getting Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) payments.

New figures show that in 2016 the Government spent £22m processing claimants’ initial appeals against sanctions – a stage most people must pass through before they reach a tribunal.

It emerged earlier this year that government officials are given targets to reject four out of five initial appeals – known as mandatory reconsiderations – for some disability benefits.

Further data obtained by The Independent under Freedom of Information law shows the Government then spent a further £17m fighting cases in the courts that were not settled at the initial appeal stage, bringing the total appeals process cost to £39m last year.

In the same period the Government lost 62 per cent of the tribunal cases in which it was attempting to sanction a claimant’s ESA – which supports people when impairments prevent them working.

They also lost 65 per cent of the cases in the latter half of 2016, the most recent period for which figures are available, relating to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP), a longer-term benefit.

But the defeats suffered by government lawyers are not persuading ministers of the need to change tack, with the figures actually pointing to a more costly appeals process in 2017.

Read more: DWP spends £39m defending decisions to strip benefits from sick and disabled people


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