DWP’s £22m war chest to fight benefit appeals

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Some 180 more officers to be recruited to defend against appeals 

30th March 2016 by Robert Armour 4 Comments

Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) officials have been given a £22 million war chest to defend against benefit appeals as more changes to payments come into force.

In a clear sign that the government is preparing to fight more claims over reduced disability benefits in the coming years, civil servants will use the cash to recruit presenting officers and to support the department against personal independent payment (PIP) appeals.  

The cash was included in the chancellor’s last budget statement. Some 180 new presenting officers will be recruited.

Tories have long been dissatisfied at the high success rate of benefit appeals since the back-to-work regime came into place.

Currently 53% of everyone who appealed their Employment and Support Allowance “fit to work” decision had it reversed last year.

Now government minsters fear a similar success rate as PIP gradually replace disability living allowance and claimants appeal changes to their benefits.

Assessors don’t understand conditions which fluctuate, like MS, or its impact on their lives - Michelle Mitchell

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of the MS Society, described the reforms as potentially “devastating” for people with the condition and said they could “fail some of the most vulnerable people in society”.

“People with MS are struggling to get the vital support they need and in too many cases are having to go through a lengthy appeals process,” she said. “They continue to tell us that assessors don’t understand conditions which fluctuate, like MS, or its impact on their lives.”

Iain Duncan Smith resigned as work and pensions secretary over cuts to disability benefits, in the most dramatic cabinet departure of David Cameron’s leadership.

Subsequently the government backed down on the most draconian changes but it is feared it could make saving through the back door by defending itself against appeals more rigorously.

A DWP spokesperson said: “Presenting officers assist tribunals by giving both the legal case for the appeal, the department’s case for upholding the original decision but also by drawing attention to any new and relevant evidence. By increasing the number of Presenting officers, we will help ensure the right decision is achieved at each appeal.”

31st March 2016 by fed up

Got attacked when I was younger dragged down the road by a car then got 50 stitches in my head,got prescribed benzodiazepines' and df 118s,which got changed to methadone,asked for help when I started self harming,and started to see inclusion matters,now been on medication for 30 years for anxiety and depression can't go out the door,haven't been in trouble since 1992 new drug service are taking the diazepam of me because they say there not funded my mum is trying to recover from cancer and I'm struggling with my head and no like just a bedroom plz can someone please explain or help me anything will be appreciated xx

1st April 2016 by fred allen

please please graham am begging u guys to help me have a heart for gods sake ive been here waiting for the appeal since October 2014 with no money to get home please please I need to get home for medical attention dont let me die here am 58 yrs old please do something for me am a British citizen who needs desperate help am so low now I just want to get better please help me my family in uk have all turned their backs on me please get the British government to do something dont treat an old man like this who needs help who has hit hard times and is rock bottom please am begging you yours fred allen

1st April 2016 by fred allen

the story is ive been on incapacity benefit for 25 yrs due to my condition and other health issues and with age my condition is getting worse in April 21 2014 I went on a six month vacation to the Philippines due to return on 20th oct but on that day when I was due to return I was in severe pain and unable to take the flight....then the incapacity benefit stopped because the state law says they only pay benefit up to 26 weeks then it went to appeal high court then first tier then upper tier tribunal then it went back to 1st tier which only then they refused the oral appeal only to receive the letter last week so all that time ive not received any benefits for me to get back to England. ....the tribunal have all the doctor's notes of the reason why I couldn't take the flight back uk and my prescriptions for strong painkillers. ...now my condition is worst and now in need of operation on my hips back and now hernia as occured and in need of surgery but the tribunal still refused my appeal on health grounds

3rd April 2016 by fred allen

Please please there must be someone out there who can help me am so desperate now and in pain