Tag Archives: reconsideration

Tories are attacking disabled people again while we’re looking the other way

The Conservative government has changed its assessment process for disability benefits to make it harder for people to get a correct decision on their claim – it seems.

The Tory miniser for disabled people, Justin Tomlinson, revealed details of the secret change in a letter to the Commons Work and Pensions committee, after its chair, Stephen Timms, raised the issue on behalf of claimants.

It has been usual practice for claimants to request and receive a copy of their assessment report within days of the report being submitted to the DWP.

They have been able to request a copy of their report, check it thoroughly, raise any issues with the assessment providers and receive responses before they have received the decision.

In a fair, sane system, this is appropriate. So of course the Tories have changed it.

In a letter dated September 16, Tomlinson MP wrote:

“The department does not share assessment provider reports with claimants before they have been considered by a DWP Case Manager.”

This is because:

“Providing the report to claimants immediately after the assessment and before the Case Manager has made their decision could therefore give a false impression on the outcome of their claim.”

This will make it much harder for claimants to demand the mandatory review that the Tories insist they have to endure before appealing against a wrong decision.

It can take up to 15 weeks for claimants to receive the decision. Once they do, and if they disagree with it, they will have about three weeks – or less – to make a request for a mandatory review. 

The 30+ page assessment report is a key part of the process and it will take about 10 days from requesting a copy to receiving it.

This leaves very little time for them to see the recommendations made, to analyse the report, to check it for accuracy, to see if there are any errors, and to prepare and send a request for MR if necessary.

Many people with disabilities are very weak, due to their condition, and do not have the strength of will needed to push through a dispute with the government that has a short time limit.

You can be sure the Tories had this in mind when they secretly made this cruel change.

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Tories have wasted £120m in two years trying to tell people they’re not disabled

Habitual cruelty: if you thought the Tories stopped persecuting people with long-term illnesses and disabilities during the Covid-19 crisis, think again.

What a waste of time and money.

Over the last two years, Conservative governments have spent more than £120 million in taxpayers’ money fighting disability benefit claims – despite losing three-quarters of tribunal appeals.

That means automatic wastage of £90 million – but it is likely that the quarter of claimants who lost their appeals also had valid grounds to claim Personal Independence Payment and/or Employment and Support Allowance but were outflanked by a prejudiced system.

The increase in expenditure is far greater than the 13 per cent increase in applications would suggest. And it is happening at a time when the country can ill-afford to waste any cash at all. There can only be one reason for it: sick cruelty – the Tories are enjoying torturing sick and disabled people to death.

And why are there so many applications for disability and sickness benefits in the UK? Do conditions here – especially working conditions – cause illness and disability?

The new figures are further proof that the Tories’ convoluted appeal process has nothing to do with saving money from fraudsters and everything to do with starving people with disabilities – to death, if possible.

It is now well-documented that claimants initially have to go through an internal appeal process within the Department for Work and Pensions called mandatory reconsideration.

The courts only recently ruled that a Tory regulation forcing claimants to go without any benefit payments, and therefore without any income, for the period of a mandatory reconsideration – no matter how long that may be – was illegal.

Only after the DWP rules that a claim should be rejected can the sick or disabled person take their case to a tribunal.

And it is at tribunals that 76 per cent of PIP claims, and 75 per cent of ESA claims, are upheld.

This means the Tories have needlessly and cruelly deprived these people of their means of survival for the number of months – years in some cases – that these claims have been disputed.

We all know that there is hardly any fraud in disability benefit claims – the last recorded number This Writer saw was somewhere in the region of one or two per cent of claims.

So the huge proportion that the Tories refuse – and the amount of time and money wasted in the appeal process – can only mean one thing:

The Tories hate disabled people and want them to die.

Why isn’t this a national – if not international – scandal?

Source: Government spends £120m in taxpayer money fighting disability benefit claims in two years, figures show | The Independent | Independent

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Tory rag revives ‘benefit scrounger’ lie to smooth over DWP’s bad publicity

The state of this:

This Writer suspects that the editors of The Sun have run this story because the Department for Work and Pensions has been shown up for denying benefits to people who deserve them, in order to meet a quota.

The policy has caused a huge amount of suffering – both due to deprivation and damage to mental health. So The Sun runs a piece attempting to remind the easily-led that benefit claimants are an underclass in Tory Britain, worthy only to be ‘nudged’ off-benefit and toward death.

“And,” as @TyronWilson puts it, “when you actually read the story it says that she saves her benefits all year and doesn’t spend money on herself so she can do this for her kids.”

And there is always the backstop reason for stories like this:

It’s miserable and mean-spirited – as is anybody who believes and/or supports it.


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A job only half-done: Tories SAY they are dropping ESA and PIP Mandatory Reconsideration targets

[Image: Black Triangle Campaign]

The claim that there has never been a Mandatory Reconsideration target for upholding original decisions is, of course, not true.

The Mandatory Reconsideration system was introduced on October 28, 2013, and This Site reported in 2015 that the proportion of ESA decisions overturned by MR had fallen from 35 per cent to 20 per cent – in line with the DWP’s then-secret target.

By the 2016-17 financial year, 87 per cent of MR requests were resulting in the original decisions being upheld.

The fact that the DWP had a target to reject 80 per cent of ESA – and later PIP – appeals at Mandatory Reconsideration was not made public until mid-May this year (2017), when the admission was made in response to a Freedom of Information request.

The revelation prompted an immediate chorus of outrage from organisations that work to protect people with long-term illnesses and disabilities, who rightly pointed out that having a target means the Department for Work and Pensions cannot be trusted to carry out MRs in a trustworthy manner – people who deserved their benefit would be denied it in order to allow the DWP to meet its quota.

Their concerns have been upheld by the Commons Work and Pensions Committee, as you can see in the extract from the UK Parliament website below.

The DWP’s response was to categorically deny the existence of the target and to claim it was simply an “internal measurement”. But the Department has still agreed to drop it.

But will this happen?

It has taken four years to establish that the DWP has this target and force the Department to scrap it. During that time, hundreds of thousands of claimants have had decisions to reject their claim for ESA or PIP upheld. The fact that these decisions were target-based and not evidence-based casts doubt on the entire process.

And what has happened to the people whose claims have been rejected?

It seems clear to This Writer that every claim rejected under the former system should be re-examined – independently. We need to know how many erroneous decisions were not identified and corrected.

Dropping the target alone will leave the job half-done. We need to know how many people were falsely denied their benefits and we need justice for those people.

When may we expect it?

In response to pressure from the Work and Pensions Select Committee the Department for Work and Pensions has announced that its target for upholding original PIP and ESA decisions at the first stage of appeal, known as Mandatory Reconsideration (MR), will be dropped.

On 28 November the Committee wrote to DWP with concerns about MRs, which had come up in the Committee’s current inquiry into the medical assessments carried out by ATOS, Maximus and Capita to inform DWP’s decisions on awards of disability benefits PIP and ESA.

The Committee had heard of “pressure to turn out numbers” in relation to both the original decision and at MR stage, and that MRs simply “rubber stamp” the original decision. The DWP revealed in an FOI request in May 2017 that one of the performance indicators for MRCs was that 80% of the original decisions are to be upheld. The Committee queried how a target for upholding original decisions could be compatible with ensuring that questionable reports are thoroughly investigated, and erroneous decisions identified and corrected. MR should be an important extra safeguard, but instead appears to be creating another “hurdle” in a process that is already arduous and stressful for many claimants, as the Committee has heard directly in nearly 4,000 individual accounts submitted to it.

The Department’s response “categorically state(s) that there has never been a Mandatory Reconsideration target for upholding original decisions”, and that the 80% target, “an internal measurement only used to indicate areas” where there were problems with the original decisions being made, will be dropped.

Commenting on the response, Rt Hon Frank Field MP Chair of the Committee, said

“It is great news that the target has been dropped and we congratulate the Department on this response. This is a great victory for the thousands of PIP and ESA claimants who have responded to our inquiry, and for anyone going through this process, who can now go to the first stage of appealing a benefits decision with more confidence that the reconsideration will be fair and impartial.”

Source: Victory for claimants as Government agrees to drop MR measure – News from Parliament – UK Parliament


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DWP adds a new power to its anti-disability arsenal: Prophecy

The Department for Work and Pensions office in London.

That’s right – the Department for Work and Pensions can now foretell the future, and is using this power to dismiss appeals before sickness or disability benefit claimants can even make them.

Alternatively, the DWP is corruptly deciding appeals for mandatory reconsideration of claims before they are made, in order to achieve the targets for removing claims that they always say don’t exist.

The Department’s press office has claimed this was a clerical error, of course. They can always claim it was a mistake when they are discovered.

What do YOU believe?

Fresh concerns have been raised about the integrity of the disability benefits system, after a disabled woman’s appeal against having her benefits removed was rejected before she was even told her claim had been turned down.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) sent Mandy Moseley a mandatory reconsideration notice, confirming that her appeal against the decision to reject her claim for the new personal independence payment (PIP) had been unsuccessful.

But she was astonished to receive the letter because she had not yet been told the result of her claim.

Until a claimant receives a decision notice that informs them of the result of their claim, they cannot ask for a mandatory reconsideration (MR) of that decision, and she had not done so.

Disabled activists have been questioning for months why success rates for MRs are so low, when so many appeals that are taken to tribunal – the next stage of the appeal process after the MR – are successful.

Source: DWP rejects PIP claimant’s appeal… before she receives decision notice


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‘Reconsideration’ fiddle for ‘fitness-for-work’ test

Sheila Gilmore MP.

Sheila Gilmore MP.

The number of sick and disabled people wrongly declared “fit for work” after taking the Atos-run work capability assessment for Employment and Support Allowance could be far higher than previously thought, it has been revealed.

It seems the Coalition government has been artificially inflating its figure for the number of people initially awarded the benefit by including the results of informal appeals, known as ‘reconsideration’.

The dodge was uncovered by Labour MP Sheila Gilmore, who sits on the Commons Work and Pensions select committee. She raised concerns about the figures in September.

A reply by Tory Employment Minister Esther McVey has admitted that figures covering the number of people initially awarded the benefit have been artificially boosted by the reconsideration process, in which people who have been found “fit for work” ask DWP civil servants to re-examine their cases.

If the decision remains the same, claimants can lodge a formal appeal with HM Courts and Tribunal Service. Separate statistics have been published on the number of people reaching this stage – but not on the number seeking reconsideration.

In her letter, Ms McVey admitted figures are “not clear” and promised to “ensure greater clarity in future”.

ESA replaced Incapacity Benefit in 2008. The assessment process often involves a face-to-face assessment, and data on the number of people awarded and refused the benefit is published every three months.

“I regularly meet sick and disabled people who are unable to work but who have been declared able to do so following a flawed ESA assessment,” said Sheila Gilmore

“Up to now we thought that the assessment was getting about one in ten fit for work decisions wrong – far too many in most people’s eyes – but now we know the Government have been fiddling the figures, the reality could be much much worse.

“Up until today Ministers led us to believe they were publishing figures that showed the number of people awarded benefit immediately after assessment and before any appeals. It now turns out that informal appeals to officials – as opposed to formal ones to judges – were being taken into account.”

She said: “This has clearly masked the true extent of the failings in the ESA assessment process.”

The latest revelation follows the omission of the number of successful appeals from October’s round of figures.

“Taken together, these events suggests that rather than trying to fix the test to reduce the number of incorrect decisions, Ministers’ priority is to fix the figures to downplay the extent of the problem,” said Sheila Gilmore.

Her letter to the Department for Work and Pensions, dated September 27, 2013 can be found here.

Esther McVey, Minister of State at the Department for Work and Pensions, replied on November 2, and her letter can be found here.

Statistics on the number of people successfully appealing Fit for Work decisions were absent from the release in October 2013. The relevant tables were blank but for this statement: “An update of these statistics is currently unavailable. Please see the July 2013 release for the latest statistics on outcomes of appeals.”