Post by nickd (Mylegal) on May 19, 2013 22:38:36 GMT
Here's something else the DWP didn't tell you.....
The hidden cost of their new appeals procedure....
Is the DWP's new appeal system going to end up costing a fortune?
The DWP's new appeal system or 'mandatory reconsideration before appeal' scheme will mean claimants have to wait for the DWP to look at their case before they are able to appeal to a Tribunal. What the DWP aren't so keen to tell you is that it will mean claimants in ESA cases have to go on to JSA whilst they wait for the DWP.
It was great to get some exposure in the Daily Express over the real cost of benefit appeals. Of course, they'll probably deny the cost and play it down somehow, quite how I'm not sure given that the pricing information came from the DWP themselves and was based on 2008/2009 Ministry of Justice figures which put the average cost of a benefit appeal at £279. On top of which no one had ever thought to include the cost of the DWP preparing the appeal papers, on the premise that you can't have an appeal without the papers it seems wholly reasonable to factor them in. Perhaps they're just too busy with thousands of appeals to stop and think about such things?
It's unsurprising that the DWP seeks to gloss over the cracks in the creaking appeal system by resorting to a plan B. The plan being that from October this year, thousands of claimants will no longer be able to go straight for an appeal. As justification for the DWP's new 'Mandatory Reconsideration Before Appeal' process, they have come up with this little gem:
"From October we will require all claimants to ask the Department to examine their case again before they can appeal. In this way only appropriate appeals would reach the tribunal"
Note how the DWP include the 'appropriate appeal' jibe? - it helps infer it's all the fault of the claimant for appealing which is a bit rich really.
Especially when the latest Tribunal figures show a substantial percentage of the thousands of cases which go to appeal succeed as thousands of claimants win their cases. The DWP appears to be forgetting they, under the guise of the 'the Secretary of State' are known as the 'serial litigants' rather than the poor old claimant who at one time stood an 80% chance of succeeding in the good old days of legal aid with a little bit of help from a professional. Overall the success rate of say a claimant appealing the Employment & Support Allowance is around 42% - it's a very high success rate by any measure.
The DWP should know they've been reconsidering cases before appeals take place for ages. It's nothing new and in most cases is already a standard part of the existing appeal procedure. Upon receipt of the appeal the DWP takes a look at the evidence to see if the decision can be changed without it going to a Tribunal, the problem is it's become very much a rubber stamping exercise with the DWP confirming the initial decision. Having been over the DWP's latest Work Capability Assessment figures I'm not filled with confidence that the reconsideration process is currently being carried out with any degree of due diligence. In fact the figures alarm me with a degree of absolute horror....
The DWP figures show, that by August 2012 they had completed no less than 1.60 million Work Capability Assessments (this relating only to new ESA claims), shockingly their records for the number of recorded reconsiderations extends to just 73,300 cases where they'd placed a claimant in the Work Related Activity Group following 890,300 'fit for work' decisions - around 8% - it's not a good indicator that the new process will lead to more cases being reviewed favourably by the DWP without having to go to a Tribunal.
However, I digress....
More £££££'s on another hair brained scheme!
Oh dear, it seems the DWP has forgotten to include another 'hidden cost'.
The DWP omits to mention the 'administrative' cost of negotiating this new scheme. Using figures taken from the DWP's annual report for 2010/2011 we can see how the greatly protracted 'customer journey will drain the tax payer's pocket even further. Let's apply the costs to someone 'negotiating' an ESA appeal under the new scheme. It's not a straightforward journey as claimants in the new process may have to go from ESA to JSA and then back on to ESA in the run up to an appeal.
Here's the potential costs....
The claimant starts his or her journey on ESA.
The DWP's admin bill goes 'kerching', 'kerching', 'kerching' with each single step on the claimant's costly 'customer journey'. Here's how the much the DWP costs each step under the current regime:
(1) Employment and Support Allowance and Incapacity Benefit Interview - between £109 - £107
(2) Cost of processing each new claim for Employment and Support Allowance - £311 - £233
(3) Then of course we have the unquantified cost of making the 'computer says no' generated decision following the wretched Atos assessment - £60?
(4) Unsurprisingly in many cases Atos will says 'No'. As part of the new mandatory revision process the claimant will have to come off their Employment & Support Allowance and sign on at the Jobcentre for Jobseeker's Allowance pending the DWP's reconsideration.....
(5) Processing cost per new claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance - £114 to £92
(6) Cost of maintaining each existing claim for Jobseeker’s Allowance per annum - £307 to £306 Let's say it takes six months for the DWP to sort out the reconsideration, that's around six months, so half the yearly cost doesn't seem unreasonable - £150?
(7) The reconsideration decision - maker may well end up still saying 'No' . Under the new rules the claimant can move back off Jobseeker's Allowance and reclaim the Employment & Support Allowance up until their appeal is heard. A repeat of the following costs is therefore not out of the question....
(8) Yet another Employment and Support Allowance and Incapacity Benefit Interview - £109 - £107 - with another set of costs I dare say?
(9) Given that it will mean more processing of a claim for Employment and Support Allowance - how much of of the £311 - £233 will it cost second time around?
(10) Then of course we're back to square one with the cost of the appeal all over again = £377
This elongated journey could well end racking up a bill of up to £1,500 per case depending on how the DWP distributes its cost. Let's not forget we've already seen well over a million benefit appeals since April 2010, you hardly need a calculator to work out 'mandatory revision before appeal' is going to be a costly exercise. I'm sure the DWP will say 'Universal Credit' will provide all the answers to this conundrum; it seems to be their stock answer to all problems.
In reality, we have no way of knowing whether Universal Credit will be able to handle problems like this in time for the start of this scheme in October of this year, nor do we know how Universal Credit will cope with cases like this for those on contribution based ESA and JSA; both of which fall outside of its remit.
Anyway the costs are all on page 10 of the Department for Work and Pensions Annual Report and Accounts 2010-11. Someone in Parliament needs to work this little lot out, but I know one things for certain, this isn't going to be cheap.
An increase in the volume of appeals has led to a substantial increase in the Tribunals Service's caseload and longer waiting times for appeals to be heard. Future welfare reforms that have already been announced, such as reforms of Disability Living Allowance, are likely to further impact upon the volume of appeals. Reform is necessary to deliver timely, proportionate and efficient justice for claimants and to reduce unnecessary demands on the Tribunals Service.
The evidence basis upon which the impact assessment was made
In 2009/10 there were 339,200 SSCS appeals received by the Tribunals Service, an increase of 40 per cent on 2008/09. This has led to a large increase in the SSCS live caseload; at the end of 2008/09 there were 66,400 appeals waiting to be heard but that had more than doubled to 138,800 by the end of 2009/10.
3. The number of SSCS appeals submitted to the First-tier Tribunal in 2009/10 is given in the following table, together with the appeals heard and the proportion found in favour of the appellants, for each of the SSCS benefits/schemes. The figures show that three-quarters of the SSCS appeals submitted were for one of Incapacity Benefit (IB), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Attendance Allowance (AA) or Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Jun 28, 2013 10:02:43 GMT
Appeals rise even further
Employment & Support Appeals double and account for 70% of all benefit appeals!
More shock & horror as the latest Ministry of Justice figures reveal a startling increase in the number of benefit appeals.
We'll of course go on and look at them in more detail in the fullness of time. However the latest figures complete the statistics for the year 2012/2013 and the last quarter shows the increase I predicted earlier on ilegal when reporting on the preposterous cost of claimants having to hold the state to account over the number of decisions which the DWP are getting badly wrong.
The number of receipts has risen like this:
Benefit appeal receipts 2012/2013
Quarter 1 = 102,282
Quarter 2 = 119,017
Quarter 3 = 130,607
Total so far = 351,906 up to December 2012.
So what of the figures up to March 2013?
The official release in documentary form reverts to a series of charts and graphs which effectively help hide the enormity of the problem. It quotes you rather meaningless percentages when what we really need to see is the actual number of appeal receipts for the Employment & Support Allowance in the last quarter of 2012/2013.
However I've tracked down the actual data tables - here's how ESA continues to emerge as the most hotly disputed benefit ever known.....
Here's the figures for Employment & Support Allowance
Q1 - 60,171
Q2 - 73,648
Q3 - 85,109
Q4 - 109,033
Total = 327,961
The total compares with 181,137 2011/2012, 197,363 in 2010/2011 and 126,838 in 2009/2010 - A massive increase!
Generally across other Tribunal cases
There were 255,000 receipts (or claims) in the fourth quarter of 2012/13. This is a 15 per cent increase over the previous quarter.
There were 874,000 receipts (or claims) accepted by Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service (HMCTS) in the financial year 2012/13.
This represents a 17 per cent increase over the previous year. The main reason for the increase was the large increase in appeals to the Social Security and Child Support (SSCS).
For all tribunals combined, the caseload outstanding at 31 March 2013 was 898,000 – 19 per cent higher than the previous year.
In the last year the caseload outstanding has increased for all of the largest Tribunals: by 39 per cent for Immigration and Asylum (IA); by 41 per cent for SSCS and by 13 per cent for Employment Tribunals (ET).
Adjournments and Postponements
For SSCS cases in 2012/13, 15 per cent of listed cases were adjourned, and eight per cent were postponed, both a slight increase since 2011/12.
Receipts by Jurisdiction for main Tribunals
The increase in the overall number of receipts was mainly due to the 37 per cent increase in the number of appeals received in SSCS 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. There was also an increase of 3 per cent in Employment receipts, and a 15 per cent decrease in the number of receipts for Immigration and Asylum in 2012/13.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Jun 28, 2013 16:19:37 GMT
How can the DWP be coping with this
1.3 million appeals in last 3 years
The latest figures from Her Majesty's Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) confirm that from April 2010 a staggering 1,296,404 benefit appeals have been received by the Tribunals up to March 2013. This is made up of 418,476 appeal receipts in 2010/2011, 370,797 in 2011/2012 and 507,131 in 2012/2013.
It is exceptionally alarming that since April 2009 833,297 (this does not include figures for 2008/2009) of the appeals received by Tribunals are in dispute of the highly controversial Employment & Support Allowance which centres around the much condemned 'Work Capability Assessments' conducted by Atos healthcare who have been heavily criticised for unfairly declaring thousands of claimants either fit for all work or fit to do some work with appropriate levels of support.
In the same period 308,058 appeals have been received by HMCTS relating to Disability Living Allowance, a disability based benefit now replaced by the Personal Independence Payment; more of these appeals look increasingly likely as campaigners have already declared new criteria for testing disabled claimants unfair - particularly with regard to how the new payment recognises a claimant's mobility problems. Assessments for the new 'PIP' benefit will be conducted by private healthcare contractors Atos Healthcare and Capita amidst further controversy.
Employment & Support Allowance appeals have spiralled out of control with 126,836 being received at the Tribunal in 2009/10, 197,363 in 2010/2011, 181,137 in 2011/12 and 327,961 in 2012/13. Claimant success rates have gradually risen as more and more ESA decisions end up being overturned by Tribunals. Success rates were 37% in 2009/10 and 2010/11, 39% in 2011/12 and 43% in 2012/13.
Adjournments & postponements have more than doubled across all benefit appeals since 2007/2008 with 30,100 adjournments increasing to 67,813 in 2012/13 and postponements rising from 13,200 to 37,682 in 2012/13.
The numbers of 'cases outstanding' has also substantially risen. In 2007/08 there being 44,516 cases whereas by March 2013 Tribunals were facing a backlog of 204,304 cases to wade through - an increase of 359% since 2007 - these are figures which must be viewed as deeply concerning.
The number of Employment & Support Allowance appeals by Tribunals has also increased over the last three years with 176,567 disposed of in 2010/11, 204,321 in 2011/12 and 268,137 in 2012/13. In 2012/13 84% cases were dealt with at an appeal hearing whereas only 16% were disposed of in the absence of the claimant.
We previously reported on the cost of benefit appeals with an article in the Sunday Express. In the article using freedom of information requests from the DWP and the Ministry of Justice we established a cost of at least £377.64 per appeal. If we now apply the same costing to the number of benefit appeals received for the Employment & Support Allowance in the year 2012/2013 we arrive at the following annual cost:
327,961 x £377.64 = £123,851,192.041 (£123.8 million)
It's considerably above the £50 and £70 million commonly quoted by parliamentarians because it includes some (not all) elements of the DWP's costs in preparing the case. It is my contention that this is entirely logical as no case can proceed to the Tribunal without the DWP preparing a set of appeal papers. Re - quoting the figure bandied around by the Ministry of Justice is not helping the argument that these welfare reforms are not only perilous but it is also not helping us to show how they are exorbitantly expensive.
Now lets apply the same costing to the total number of appeals received by Tribunals since April 2010.
1,296,404 x £377.64 = £489,574,006.56
Nearly half a billion pounds
But what about the DWP?
We have to stop only thinking in terms of the cost of appeals which have been acknowledged as received by the Tribunal. What these escalating figures show is that more and more claimants are appealing especially against the Employment & Support Allowance.
What this clearly shows is that of those taking up ESA claims around 34.7% are lodging appeals which end up at Tribunals. The fact is many more will have lodged an appeal or asked for a reconsideration (all of which are classified as disputing the decision) with the DWP which will either have been resolved by them or not yet reached the Tribunal.
Do we want to see doctors seeing ill patients or do we want to see doctors seeing patients who are not ill but simply want to undertake some form of appeal letter?”
Dr Charles AllanbyBro Taf LMC
The issue has come to light following changes to the way benefits are paid and how people are assessed as being able to work.
The Bro Taf LMC says GP practices across Rhondda Cynon Taf, Merthyr Tydfil, and Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan have been flooded with patients asking for letters to help them appeal 'fit-for-work' decisions.
It has now written to surgeries telling them not to assist.
LMC chair Dr Charles Allanby told BBC Radio Wales that it was adding to GP workloads.
"We are seeing at least one or two patients per surgery per doctor, asking for assistance," he told the Good Morning Wales programme.
"If you add that up throughout the whole of Wales, that is an enormous number of appointments being taken up by people who are not actually ill.
"Do we want to see doctors seeing ill patients, or do we want to see doctors seeing patients who are not ill but simply want to undertake some form of appeal letter?"
In the letter from the LMC to GPs, it says moves to a new system of benefits for the disabled, rule changes to housing benefit, and the work capability assessments can all impact on surgery workloads.
It also provides a strongly-worded draft letter for patients spelling out its case.
"GPs have a contract with the NHS to provide general medical services to their patients and are not in a position to administer or police the benefits system," states the letter.
"GPs are not contracted or resourced to provide this kind of service and making such requests to GPs represents an abuse of NHS resources.
"We cannot therefore respond to your request for a letter."
But one patient who spoke to BBC Wales said the situation had a huge impact on her.
Fiona Howells, who lives in Ferndale in the Rhondda, said her doctor had initially agreed to write a supporting letter for a £20 fee, but then withdrew that offer.
"For your doctor to be put in a position where they are unable to support you is bad enough, but for that recommendation to be made by other doctors is just absolutely shocking," she said.
"It makes you ill, to be honest. It just leaves you in despair."
There are still some circumstances where GPs are required to take part in the appeals process for benefits claimants as part of their contracts.
But only if they are written to by medical professionals from Atos, the private company assessing benefits.
Rhondda AM Leighton Andrews raised the issue with Health Minister Mark Drakeford at the assembly's health and social care committee.
He asked if Mr Drakeford agreed that it "represents an abuse of NHS resources".
The minister replied: "What the letter points to is part of the ongoing consequences of the welfare reform agenda being pursued by the UK government with no thought at all for the way that agenda spills out into all other aspects of public services.
"So it is undoubtedly true, and I don't think that we can just dismiss the concerns that GPs have, particularly in areas where the welfare benefit cuts have bitten most sharply."
But he added he was "very disappointed" the branch acted in this way.
"I would have thought that it is part of the ordinary duty of care which a GP owes to an individual that finds themselves in this very, very difficult situation and whose health will be affected by it," he said.
A spokesperson for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) said: "A decision on whether someone is well enough to work is taken following a thorough assessment and after careful consideration of all the available evidence.
"That can include supporting medical evidence from the claimant's GP or other healthcare professional," said the spokesperson.
"GPs have been clear that they do not want to be responsible for making decisions on people's benefit entitlement, which is why we have processes in place to request the appropriate information from GPs to enable us to make those decisions."
The Local Medical Committee Conference has passed a number of motions about the situation and informing GPs elsewhere that they do not have to write the letters.
But the LMC in North Wales, for example, does not instruct GPs against writing letters in support of patient appeals.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Jul 18, 2013 18:47:00 GMT
GPs struggle to cope with 21% rise in requests to verify work capability since January
17 July 2013 | By Madlen Davies
Exclusive GPs are having to cope with rising levels of paperwork under the Government’s drive to reduce the benefits bill, with figures obtained by Pulse showing the number of requests to verify claimants’ ability to work have increased by over a fifth since the beginning of this year.
The figures show that the national crackdown on benefits has resulted in practices having to cope with increasing numbers of forms to support Employment Support Allowance (ESA) claims, which GPs say can take up to an hour of their time to fill out.
The figures obtained under the Freedom of Information Act show 136,000 ESA requests to medical professionals on behalf of the Government in the first three months of the year, the majority of which will be made to the patient’s GP.
This extrapolated across the whole year would total over 544,250 requests for the year - representing a 21% increase in ESA compared with the 448,800 requests made in 2012.
Requests for information from GPs have rocketed since ESA replaced incapacity benefit in 2008, when only 6,640 requests were made.
The GPC said it is meeting with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to ensure that information requested by Atos Healthcare - which runs the DWP scheme - is more relevant.
The GPC also said that the ten calendar days GPs are given to supply further medical evidence for the claims is ‘not realistic’.
The Workplace Capability Assessments, which the Government uses to decides on whether people are eligible for the ESA, have also been criticised by the BMA, MPs and charities, as 38% of decisions are overturned at the appeal stage. Last year a committee of MPs said the assessments have a ‘disproportionate effect’ on the vulnerable.
Dr Nigel Watson, chief executive of Wessex LMCs said GP feedback into the process was important, but that the forms could take from 15 minutes to an hour and this was having a disproportionate impact on the time GPs could spend with patients.
He said: ‘We are spending more time on admin and paperwork and this is going to increase. With the increasing complexity of long term conditions, and patients working longer, not retiring at 60. Now the forms are more complex. It’s not only that you have more forms to fill in - its more complicated to fill in these forms.’
He added: ‘It adds to the other pressure that GPs are facing. If you spend more times filling in forms then you spend less time looking after patients - the time has to come from somewhere.’
Dr John Canning, chair of the GPC’s professional fees and regulation committee and a GP in Middlesbrough, said the GPC was currently holding talks with the DWP to ensure that GPs are only asked for information which was relevant.
He said: ‘We have been talking to DWP about making sure that when we get asked for information - is it relevant, and is it being asked at the right time?
‘It needs to be an appropriate request; we need to ensure that it achieves what it needs to for the department, as opposed to being a bureaucratic exercise. That balance is not right at the moment.’
He added: ‘The request to respond within a week is not realistic with the work we have to do. Many people work part time.’
A spokesperson for Atos Healthcare said: ‘These figures should be viewed in the context of increasing numbers of assessments during changes to the welfare system. As agreed with the Department for Work and Pensions, we only proactively write out to GPs for further medical evidence where we believe that receiving it may mean we can avoid a face-to-face assessment for the most disabled and unwell. This leads to around 17% of claimants not needing to attend an assessment.’
A DWP spokesperson said they need the information to make decisions about an individual’s eligibility for the ESA: ‘It is important that we are able to make decisions on an individual’s benefit entitlements with accurate and up to date information, and sometimes this will require medical evidence from a claimant’s GP or other healthcare professional.
‘GPs have been clear that they do not want to be responsible for making decisions on peoples’ benefit entitlement, which is why we have processes in place to request the appropriate information from GPs to enable us to make those decisions.’
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Jul 21, 2013 21:26:28 GMT
DWP incompetence or just utter chaos?
Lack of up to date information on appeals is astounding
What on earth is going on at the DWP?
Whilst IDS fantasizes over being able to change the lives of million households with his almost dead in the water Universal Credit, government ministers have taken their eye completely off the ball and failed to spot how chronically behind the DWP is when it comes to updating their public records on thousands of claimants who have, in many cases. successfully appealed against the infamous Work Capability Assessments related to their Employment & Support Allowance claims. The lack of data is distorting the true results as government continues to argue its case for reform on the basis of yet more inaccurate figures.
'Over half a million appeal outcomes not yet
recorded by DWP'
At least 521,199 appeals not
yet appearing in vital
The extent of the DWP's inability to update their public records is exposed upon examination of Work Capability Assessment results made available by the DWP in January of this year. Separate information from the Her Majesties Courts & Tribunals Service reveal that from April 2009 to March 2013 no less than 833,299 Employment & Support Allowance appeals have been received by the overstretched Tribunals Service. Whilst the numbers have reached record levels with claimants achieving success rates of up to 43% over the last year, the DWP is spectacularly failing to update their own records where Tribunals have independently looked at claimant's decisions.
What is absolutely appalling is that to date the DWP's Employment & Support Allowance assessment records only show the outcome of 312,100 appeals despite well over 800,000 being received by the Tribunals with many more being internally dealt with by the DWP who have the power to overturn decisions of their own accord without the need for a Tribunal hearing.
Intentional & deliberate?
DWP appeal outcomes now lagging by over 18 months & far from complete
The DWP's track record on statistics has been heavily criticised to an extent that it is leaving it wide open to accusations that its failure to produce proper figures is being done deliberately and with the intention of denying people the true facts.
The DWP has been heavily rebuked over its deplorable failure to produce representative and accurate statistics upon which the public can rely. Led by Iain Duncan Smith, the Department has been consistently hauled over the coals by Parliamentary committees & statisticians who have condemned it for making wildly inaccurate claims which disability groups say stigmatises them and provides the public with a very distorted view of their needs. Duncan - Smith is due to appear before a DWP committee again in September over his misleading use of statistics.
Winning the war on welfare by cheating the public
out of the real facts
DWP - Deliberately Wilful Propaganda?
It's beginning to look that way.
IDS consistently claims to have the public on his side when it come to implementing his hard hitting welfare reforms. However any claim to be winning popularity with the public must be deeply questionable if all he is doing is feeding the public with information with grossly misleading sets of figures.
Duncan - Smith is doing little, if anything, to ensure that disability groups and activists, labelled by his party backbenchers as 'extremists', are provided with up to date and accurate statistics. The figures relating to Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) are no such exception. Ministers are reminding disability groups that the DWP is providing more and more severely incapacitated claimants with 'unconditional support'. The DWP points to a rise in the numbers being placed in the ESA 'Support Group' as an indication that their highly controversial assessment is becoming fairer to claimants when in reality the figures show that only 11% out of 3 ESA million claims end up with the claimant remaining in receipt of this unconditional support when looking at the overall claimant count figures for August 2012. To date the DWP's figures on these assessments are only valid to 11 months ago, although further figures are due out soon.
481,700 'unknown' outcomes - February 2012
How much worse can it get?
The DWP capability assessment figures released in January of this year show that only 312,100 appeal outcomes have been recorded up to February 2012, at which stage there were still 481,700 'unknown outcomes' from 'fit for work' decisions - a large number of which will almost certainly have led to appeals as evidenced by the extraordinary high number of cases received by the Tribunals.
The DWP is displaying all the signs of increasing chaos which is perhaps unsurprising when you learn that from October 2008 to November 2012 a staggering 3,239,330 (3.2 million) claimants have either claimed or been transferred from the older incapacity benefit on to the more recent allowance. With such huge numbers one has to wonder if the overworked department is either unable to ensure its records are properly up to date or whether it has been briefed to introduce deliberate delays in order to deny disability groups evidence which may help their case.
'Just 73,000 'reconsiderations' recorded in house'
The assessment figures show that up to August 2012 the DWP has managed only to record 73,300 'reconsiderations' for new ESA claimants, an exceptionally telling sign that the Department stands absolutely no chance of getting to grips with dealing with all appeal cases 'in house' as part of its newly legislated Universal Credit changes - also alarmingly behind time. Government voted through a process of denying claimants the right to appeal to an independent Tribunal until the DWP has made an attempt to resolve the claimant's dispute internally. With 8 million households due to be affected by Universal Credit and only 73,000 internal reviews having been recorded out of over 3 million ESA claims the chances of this working successfully are looking distinctly minimal.
Evidence from the NHS (see above) shows that hard pushed doctors are struggling to keep pace with patients who are pleading for support. Surgeries are reporting 136,000 evidence requests in the first quarter of this year (January to March 2013) a figure which closely matches the 109,033 appeals received by Tribunals at the same time when considering that extra requests will relate to disputes which the DWP are trying to resolve of their own accord.
What is especially alarming is that the 136,000 evidence requests made to doctors over the course of three months represents around 43% of the rising number of ESA claims made. 316,950 claims for or transfers on to ESA were made between September - November 2012. It's another sign that more and more claimants are disputing decisions which they clearly feel are unfair, it's also a clear indication that the removal of legal aid for help in benefit appeals is driving claimants to their surgeries in a desperate bid for help.
It's high time the DWP admitted to the chaos within its department and conceded to the public that it has wilfully been plying them with sets of highly misleading figures for which everyone is owed an unmitigated apology as well as a more determined pledge by government to get this right.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Jul 26, 2013 20:36:44 GMT
DWP deliberately making no effort to update appeal records?
Latest figures now show over half a million 'incomplete' records
The latest DWP Work Capability Assessment highlight a worsening problem within the department.
It's their complete failure to produce up to date records of the results of appeals made by Employment & Support Allowance claimants against decisions to refuse them their benefits.
It's hardly surprising that Iain Duncan Smith is stalling his appearance before a select committee which was due to take place in September. His excuse being that his Department's annual records won't be ready in time - a somewhat bizarre state of affairs coming from the man who continually tries to reassure Parliament that his plans to implement Universal Credit are well 'on track' to transform the lives of 8 million households when in reality his 'national' roll out has after 3 years in government so far only hit two jocentres dealing with the simplest of Jobseeker Allowance claims.
The most controversial appeals concern the Employment & Support Allowance. Their is clear evidence from the HMCTS Tribunal records that up to December 2012 no less than 833,299 appeals have been received at Tribunals with many more additionally being made directly made to the DWP - a figure which will now almost certainly considerably exceed 1 million by the time additional 'requests for reconsiderations' have been taken in to account.
No excuse for delays
The DWP is rapidly being exposed as a department which simply can't keep up with the pace of the welfare reforms set by Government ministers. The latest DWP assessment statistics produced this week show that up to November 2012, 3,441,200 Work Capability Assessment outcomes have been recorded but when it comes to appeals the department's figures aren't even up to date as far back as May 2012 - 15 months behind time.
It is beyond inexcusable that as the date of the publication of these latest statistics on the 25th July 2013 the DWP has only managed to collate a total of 332,400 'outcomes' arising out of its own reconsiderations and the 833,299 cases which have been dispatched to the Tribunals.
There is little sign that the DWP is doing anything to keep on top of things. The equally under pressure Tribunals have managed to produce up to date records going back to last Christmas and yet 7 months on the DWP has done nothing to input the results - you have to wonder why?
Perhaps the clue is in the results?
The DWP has earned a reputation for being all too eager to let us all know how many thousands have been found fit for work. Indeed, a glance at the latest data for new ESA claimants tells us that up to November 2012, 946,100 claimants have been supposedly found 'fit for work'.
But a glance at the same data when 'adjusted for appeals' tells us that the 946,100 'fit for work' figure falls to 820,400 after inputting the results for 332,400 appeals & reconsiderations. A reduction of 125,700 in the numbers found fit for work appears to be a figure which the DWP wants to suppress rather than promote - you have to wonder why?
The latest figures reveal that the numbers of 'unknown outcomes' has now risen to 514,100 as of May 2012 - in the last statistical release the figure was 481,700. It's a figure which 15 months on is likely to be much higher. Again you have to wonder why the DWP is doing so little to get up to date and make the results of appeals more widely known.
When you break the figures down after appeals & reconsiderations you see that 428,200 new ESA claimants in the 'Work Related Activity Group' increases to 542,600 and the 310,000 placed in the Support Group rises to 321,300 - figures which would be even higher if the DWP sorted out the 514,100 unknown results.
What we can also see from these latest figures is that of the 542,600 claimants placed in the Work Related Activity Group (from a fit for work decision adjusted after appeal for a new ESA claim) 116,600 are being placed in the group after an appeal and 82,600 after claimants have asked for a reconsideration - again bear in mind the 514,100 unknown outcomes.
What these figures are showing is that in addition to the huge number of 833,299 cases going to appeal tribunals a fair percentage are also saying to the DWP 'I'm not happy with your original decision, I want you to look at it again' (a reconsideration is in effect still an appeal because unless the DWP changes the decision the claimant can and often will go on to dispute their case before a Tribunal.
My guess is that up and down this country the DWP is sitting on top of well over half a million appeals as evidenced by the high numbers still languishing in the assessment phase.
The question is are they doing so deliberately to play down results that show more and more claimants are having decisions found in their favour? - something which this government would find deeply damaging to its never ending scrounger rhetoric.
This is both chaos and an act of deliberately withholding appeal results - it's nothing short of a scandal that IDS can't own up to the increasingly obvious evidence that his handling of welfare reforms has become nothing short of inept.
Post by nickd (Mylegal) on Sept 7, 2013 21:39:05 GMT
Why are people under-quoting ESA appeal success rates ?
Why throw away vital evidence which
shows real failure?
In an ideal world there wouldn't be a need for thousands of Employment & Support Appeals.
But we're not living in an ideal world and people are appealing in their droves.
However figures bandied around wouldn't suggest this is the case. I'm genuinely disappointed to see in this week's Work Capability Assessment debate and in an article in the Guardian that the figure for the number of successful ESA appeals has been cited as no more than 150,000.
150,000? - you have got to be having a laugh.
Mr Hoban and his merry men at the DWP are being handed the perfect defence on a plate. He can infer it is the claimant who is being overly litigious and make out that 85% of all decisions are correct.
It really is time to get properly factual.....
The perfect WCA defence
"15% of decisions that found the claimant fit for work were overturned on appeal"
No wonder Mr Hoban's smiling
The DWP are getting away with blue murder over the Work Capability Assessment.
It's as clear as crystal it isn't working.
The internet is awash with people saying they've been waiting month upon month for their cases to be decided, people are being relentlessly spun around a system until they finally get a decision which backs up their contention (backed up by their GP) that they are far from fit for work, how many more stories must we hear about seriously ill people being declared fit for work despite them dropping dead soon after an Atos assessment? It's obvious that the media is blanking out stories over claimants being driven to suicide over their benefits being cut and all too often it's an ESA decision which is at the route of the problem.
This isn't just about physically unwell claimants arguing their cases to get in to the Support Group, the greater problem is the thousands of mentally ill claimants who cannot get recognition of their problems in a tick box system which is aimed at finding people fit for work. The number of ESA claimants with mental health problems is colossal, CAB's are reporting a tsunami of ESA enquiries, doctors are telling us that in the first quarter of 2013 over 130,000 patients came to see them over the wretched allowance yet people seriously still believe that in 85% of cases the DWP are getting it right?
What planet are people on? - it's certainly not one which reflects reality:
'1.4 million fit for work decisions'
'833,000 appeals lodged'
60% and more have appealed
Yet the Daily Mail is too busy slating the NHS
To give DWP/Atos related deaths a mention
Too many people are duped into thinking the DWP are 'getting it right'
Know what you quote
Get your facts straight!
This is serious stuff...
The implications of wrongly classifying people as fit for work (when they are anything but) are downright dangerous, this is everywhere near serious as the allegations made against the NHS for causing unnecessary deaths and suffering.
People just don't get the complexity of the facts and figures. Government seizes upon the misunderstanding, politicians are restricted in what they can say in debates on the WCA and the media doesn't won't stop using selective sound bites which make for good newspaper headlines.
The public hasn't got the first clue over the difference between a 'new' ESA or an 'incapacity benefit' claimant, nor do they get 'data ranges', 'cohorts' or the finer details of the DWP's reassessment programme - they just don't care. All they care about is the bigger picture, to them they think only of around 2.5 million 'on the sick' of which they now mistakenly think only 150,000 have won their appeals.
150,000 is a figure which the public will see as totally insignificant, it's a Daily Mail charter to say very few have grounds for complaint.
The DWP loves to mix and match the stats, they must be laughing their heads up when the likes of Mark Hoban can get away unchallenged over sweeping statements about only a small number of people wining their appeals.
It weakens any argument against the WCA to leave facts like this unchallenged.