ESA appeals more than double – and decisions in the claimant’s favour are increasing

Why this is important:  "Atos Still Kills". We don't even know the current death rate because the Department for Work and Pensions won't tell us; but the figures revealed here show that the assessment system for people on disability benefits is still fatally flawed.

Why this is important: “Atos Still Kills”. We don’t even know the current death rate because the Department for Work and Pensions won’t tell us; but the figures revealed here show that the assessment system for people on disability benefits is still fatally flawed.

The number of appeals against decisions made after Atos work capability assessments has rocketed, with an increase in tribunal decisions in favour of the claimant – according to official government figures.

The government’s Tribunals Statistics Quarterly for January 1 to March 31 this year records a 33 per cent increase in the number of appeals (“receipts” in the language of the document), compared with the same period in 2012 – that’s a rise of almost one-third to 255,084.

It states: “The increase in the overall number of receipts was mainly due to the 37 per cent increase in the number of appeals received in social security (note: not “welfare”) and child support in 2012/13, compared to the same period in 2011/12.

“This was driven by appeals in relation to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), which more than doubled over between Q4 2011/12 and Q4 2012/13 and accounted for 70 per cent of all SSCS receipts in Q4 2012/13.

The report states that “of the 130,517 social security and child support cases disposed of in January to March 2013; 63 per cent were for ESA; 16 per cent for Disability Living Allowance and 10 per cent for JSA”.

The tribunal service found in favour of the “customer” (the benefit claimant) in 43 per cent of ESA cases (up from 38 per cent previously – it comes out at around 35,357 of 82,226 cases) – and also, notably, in 41 per cent of Disability Living Allowance cases (8,562 of 20,882 cases).

Incapacity Benefit cases decreased by 92 per cent because the benefit has been replaced by ESA.

So nearly half of appeals against ESA and DLA decisions are successful – an increase on previous totals. This should serve as a slap in the face to ministers at the Department for Work and Pensions, especially Employment Minister Mark Hoban, who said in February that criticism of the Atos-run assessment system for ESA was “scaremongering”.

Speaking after the Commons Work and Pensions committee criticised the system, he said: “Rather than scaremongering and driving down the reputation of the WCA, critics might like to acknowledge the fact that independent reviews have found no fundamental reforms are needed to the current process because of changes we’re making.”

If that was true, then why – at the time he said those words – was the number of successful appeals against this process increasing?

The committee had stated that “the decision-making process for new Employment Support Allowance applications and Incapacity Benefit reassessments all too often leads to the wrong decisions and is failing far too many people”. This blog judged that claim to be accurate at the time and this is now borne out by the figures.

In January he said: “Some of the worry experienced by claimants is as a result of adverse media coverage, and it risks being fuelled by incorrect anecdotal information, and indeed total myth.”

Will he come back to the House of Commons now, and admit that this media coverage was accurate, that the anecdotal information is now supported by his own department’s statistics, and that the only total myth is the narrative he and his fellow ministers – including Iain (Something) Smith, the Secretary of State – have tried to create?

I doubt it.

But that is what the figures prove.

29 thoughts on “ESA appeals more than double – and decisions in the claimant’s favour are increasing

  1. Grayling

    the anecdotal myths tend to come from the shills at Tory Central Office , IDS’s own department and it’s foam flecked key staff , the Public Opinion forming PR firms and directly from ATOS / UNUM staff …” I’ve reported my neighbours six times and they haven’t done anything about it !!! ” …” My brother in law goes to Orlando , has a Bentley DLA car , my neighbour goes to the gym ” …the Telegraph admitted this was necessary to soften up people for cuts …whoops sorry ! …” reforms ”

  2. paurina

    Reblogged this on paurina and commented:
    These figures are just more confirmation that the government isn’t interested in ‘fairness’ or ‘helping people’, but in bringing the poor and disadvantaged to their knees.

  3. Budgeting Loans and Benefit Advance Help

    People that have been found ‘fit for work’ by the DWP/ATOS could be eligable for support whilst waiting for ESA to be paid at the appeal rate.

    The DWP won’t mention that they should apply for a Short term Benefit Advance when they have submitted an apeal.

    A STBA is a direct payment of up to 60% of benefit between claims/apeals.. and it devalues the inpact of the denial of ESA ( that I feel is an attampt to force people onto JSA) and gives people a little breathing space.

  4. Samwise Gamgee

    Here’s an interesting insight into the reality of the work undertaken by ATOS, and the impact the demands the DWP make on them. Courtesy of Disability News Service. From the article –

    “ATOS doctor ‘sickened’ by claimant requests’.

    A senior doctor working for Atos Healthcare told colleagues he was “sickened” that disabled benefit claimants can now demand to have their “fitness for work” assessments recorded, according to a leaked email seen by Disability News Service (DNS).”

    The decision to allow claimants undergoing a Work Capability Assessment the right to have their assessments recorded hasn’t gone down too well with one senior doctor, who complains: “If someone complains, I have to justify my very existence to people at Atos who neither know me, nor support me, nor care. Meanwhile my work load increases and my remuneration decreases as each year goes by.”

    More tellingly, he himself criticises ATOS as “without doubt the most incompetent, inefficient and uncaring organisation with which I have ever been involved”, and that the motivation for the whole process stems from the need to “…satisfy the demands of a government that wants and needs cuts to the welfare budget”.

    It is obvious that many in ATOS are deeply angry with the DWP for the burdens imposed upon them, and the obsession with targets that seems to be at the heart of the DWP. The medical needs of claimants are secondary to the demands the DWP are imposing upon ATOS to find people “fit for work”, even to the detriment of the people who work for ATOS.

  5. diana hodson

    we all know what harm such welfare cuts can cause to many, the majority of whom are totally innocently deserving of such aid—after all that’s why that Welsh whizzo, Bevin established it—God forbid it ever disappear (otherwise myself ,& probably others too will be surviving on their allotments/garden produce !! ) Much of this issue seems to be scapegoating immigrants coming into UK, with which personally i can see no problem with at all, many originate from nations, where once flourishing economies etc. were ruined by UK (& other European nations), so why cant they make amends, help those worse off, appreciate the delights of increasing multiculturalism here, take advantage of better equipped/trained/intelligent migrant workers (eg, recent influx of Asian health professionals ) etc ? After all , we’re all immigrants anyhow (myself ==Anglo – Saxon )–why such vast competitiveness ?? Should be just left to sports teams perhaps ?? In any case i dont feel any great lack of finances should be levied on the vulnerable in society– (apparently that includes myself, but shouldn’t at all let ATOS take my life !!!

    1. Mike Sivier

      Just to correct you on a few small details: Bevin (Ernest) was foreign secretary. You’re referring to Aneurin BevAn, who brought in the NHS. The benefits that we’re discussing here are, in fact, developments from that original model. I live in Wales; my head would be on a plate if I didn’t correct that reference.
      Agree with you entirely about the contrived divisiveness in UK society, dreamed up by right-wing politicians and disseminated by right-wing media – to distract us all from the fact that there is no shortage of money; it’s just being kept from us by people who have used unfair social and political advantages to take it and put it in (most commonly) offshore bank accounts where they believe it will remain theirs and theirs alone, despite the fact that they have, in effect, stolen it. Mostly it comes from their refusal to remunerate employees properly for work done; partially it comes from speculation using our money to make more for them; partially it comes from undeserved pay settlements (such as bankers’ bonuses).

      1. Samwise Gamgee

        One wonders how much money is squirrelled away in offshore accounts. The amount that is lost to the UK exchequer must run into the £billions per year.

  6. guy fawkes

    Samwise Gamgee

    If those working for atos are dissatisfied they can always leave. They knew what they were employed for i.e. to cut costs as it was certainly not to do with assessments. The sick have already been assessed by consultants in the majority of cases and therefore do not need the punitive services of atos.

    1. Samwise Gamgee

      Of course. I’m not trying to stick up for the people who work for ATOS, I was just highlighting the effect the DWP’s own policies are having on those they employ to carry them out.

      The real victims are those who are denied support and an income as a result of the government’s own policies. The sad fact is if it wasn’t ATOS it would be another company conducting the WCAs, no doubt with the same disastrous outcomes for the sick and disabled.

  7. Graeme hannigan

    Why won’t the DWP not tell us how many people have died as a result in the benefit cuts.

  8. skwalker1964

    Reblogged this on The SKWAWKBOX Blog and commented:
    Brilliant piece by Vox Political on ESA appeals – if you’ve received an adverse decision, appeal it. Almost half of appeals succeed – Atos and the government are relying on people feeling too powerless and hopeless to appeal in the first place.

    1. Mike Sivier

      Thank you very much!
      I do it, of course, because the current situation offends my sense of what’s right and wrong, but it’s still very pleasant to get a few kind words about my work every now and then.

  9. Mark Duggan

    I have been “assessed ” three times now, the first time the “assessor ” said that I was unfit for work due to a deteriorating spinal problem, the second time “assessor” says I’m fit for work, I went to tribunal and judge and doctor agree that I am unfit to work and should NEVER be put in this situation third time after being “assessed” at home as I was deemed unfit to go to the assessment centre, I had to go to a brand new “justice” centre and now I am FIT FOR WORK.

      1. kittysjones

        Thanks Mike. Despite campaigning to get this stopped, participating in the consultation (we were ignored), and then campaigning to raise awareness of this, many still don’t know it’s coming. It’s very important that they do.

      2. Mike Sivier

        Yes. I was very surprised, talking to an advisor at Citizens’ Advice (where I’m a trustee) that they didn’t know anything about it. That was a few months ago and I urged them to find out, but I’ll need to check.

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    1. James

      I cant even appeal a decision if it gets to that point as i struggle to walk and they have told me i have to turn up for my asessment, i have perifial nuroapthy however its spelt apraxia of the nerves and a palsy in both my legs so you can udnerstand my diffculties i hope. thank god i have my mum to help, i wont even begin to tell you half the things that are wrong with me as there would be a long list and my condition will only get worse as i get older. i bet i get found “fit for work” like everyone else who is genuinely trying to claim. don’t let these social vultures grind you down; we really need someone to kick David Cameron out of power – like Charlie Brooker said, “he is an evil lounge lizard” and i put that in quotation marks, not cause i disagree but the fit for work i disagree with entirely. the quoates at charlie brooker’s comment are a direct quote from himself, i hope that one day all us genuine disabled wake up and find it’s been a horrible and very disgusting nightmare. thats if i ever get to sleep with the pain i suffer from and the various other long list of cr*p i have to put up with.

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