£208 million of tax payers money wasted defending the incompetence, inconsistency and ineptitude of the DWP disability benefit, decision making process.
The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has spent more than £108m in just over two years on administering reviews and appeals against disability benefits and the Ministry of Justice has spent £196m running the subsequent appeals process, figures show.
Now we know that around 66% of appeals rest in a decision to reverse the original DWP decision, therefore that is £36 million pounds of the tax payers money that has been wasted due to incompetent decision making, inconsistent assessment of claimants and inept application of the regulations.
Imagine a world where the DWP, Atos and Capita got there act together and made the correct decisions the first time around? There would be a potential additional £36 million a year to spend on supporting people with disabilities.
Tens of millions of pounds a year are also spent by the Ministry of Justice on the appeals, about two-thirds of which were won by claimants in the past 12 months. The Ministry of Justice spent £103.1m on social security and child support tribunals in 2016-17, up from £92.6m the year before.
So thats another £68 million of tax payers money being spent due to avoidable mistakes made by the DWP and its contractors.
Its a crazy world where its ok to spend more than £104 million in a year trying to defend errors made by the DWP and its contractors.
That DWP has stated in response to this latest criticism “we continue to spend more than £50bn a year on supporting people with disabilities and health conditions.”
We say, get it right first time and add the money that is being wasted on defending poor decision making to the money that is already spent on supporting people with disabilities and health conditions.
Add up that wasted tax payers money, £104 million pounds isn't an insubstantial amount of money and we are sure some of the members of BASE would love to have a share of that money to make living with their health conditions just a little bit easier.
Its a crazy world where its ok to spend more in a year trying to defend errors made by the DWP and its contractors than is spent on supporting the people who are supposed to benefit from DWP administered disability benefits. That
The DWP has trotted out its usual statement in relation to the PIP/ESA and the UC WCA assessment process and said "a small proportion of decisions were overturned and most employment and support allowance and personal independence payment claimants were happy with their assessments."
We aren't so sure that the above statement is entirely reflective of the experience that the members of BASE report; statements of satisfaction with the process are most definitely in the minority.
The DWP is facing questions from the work and pensions select committee over the figures, following claims that it was not given similar information for MPs’ inquiry into PIP and ESA.
Figures obtained through a freedom of information request show the DWP has spent £108.1m on direct staffing costs for ESA and PIP appeals since October 2015.
The amount covers mandatory reconsiderations, an internal DWP review and appeals to tribunals run by HM Courts and the Tribunals Service.
Since October 2015, 87,500 PIP claimants had their decision changed at mandatory reconsideration, while 91,587 others won their appeals at tribunal.
In the first half of 2017-18, 66% of 42,741 PIP appeals went in the claimant’s favour.
The figures for ESA since October 2015 show 47,000 people had decisions revised at mandatory reconsideration and 82,219 appeals went in the claimant’s favour.
So far in 2017-18, 68% of 35,452 ESA appeals have gone in favour of the claimant.
Esther McVey - Secretary for State
Figures released to the select committee inquiry show further costs to taxpayers.
In a letter to the committee, the then justice minister Dominic Raab said the average cost of an appeal had more than doubled to £579 in 2014-15 because PIP cases “now comprise a much larger proportion of the caseload” and require more members on the tribunal.
MP's published the results of their enquiry last Wednesday and you can find our summary of their findings here
Frank Field, the committee chairman, has written to Esther McVey, the work and pensions secretary, to ask why MPs were not given the information.
The DWP gave the committee the average cost of a mandatory reconsideration and appeal for PIP and ESA, but Field said it was unable to work out the full cost because information on whether PIP appeals were from new claimants or those being reassessed, which have different costs, was not available. The data that the DWP said was not available, was subsequently released to the press.
Who in the DWP thought that is was going to be ok to hide information from a Parliamentary Select Committee?
“That this data was provided in response to an FoI request, but not for our report, is doubly regrettable, since the key theme of our report is the need to introduce much greater trust and transparency into the PIP and ESA systems,” Field wrote.
A DWP spokeswoman said it was working to improve the process, including recruiting about 190 officers who will attend PIP and ESA appeals to provide feedback on decisions.
There is a an old saying that springs to mind in response to this statement that goes like this "shutting the stable door after the horse has bolted"
“We’ve already commissioned five independent reviews of the work capability assessment, implementing more than 100 of their recommendations, and two independent reviews of PIP assessments,” she said.
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