Cash Charges for Appeals Against Sanctions.
The Huffington Post reports,
A secret internal document from the Department for Work and Pensions shows that the coalition is planning to charge claimants for appealing against benefit sanctions.
The document, leaked to The Guardian, shows the extent of the government’s assault on civil liberties.
It proposes the “introduction of a charge for people making appeals against [DWP] decisions to social security tribunals” to raise money for the justice department.
What is not said is that this is likely to save a huge amount of money for the DWP through allowing more unjust sanction decisions.
Currently 58% of all appeals to tribunals are successful, a shockingly large figure and evidence again of the fact that targets are driving the huge increase in sanctions rather than any rise in offences by unemployed people.
The existence of targets was confirmed last month by the work and pensions committee of MPs.
Ipswich based Neil Bateman was cited in the Guardian,
Neil Bateman, a long-serving welfare rights lawyer, also described the policy idea as a disgrace. He said: “Stopping people from challenging bad decisions actually strikes at the heart of our democratic arrangement.” He said many of the people he had successfully represented over the years at tribunals would not have got justice if they had been made to pay a fee and that even £5 would be too high a charge for them.
Bateman said that from his experience, a very high proportion of appeals were caused by mistakes and poor-quality decision-making by the DWP. He said this had risen in recent years because the department had got rid of experienced DWP decision-makers, social security law had become more complex and attitudes had changed.
“Under this government there is an attitudinal issue in terms of evidence of increased DWP staff antipathy towards clients and that all results in decisions which are wrong which eventually get turned over at appeal,” Bateman said.
Will this also affect those appealing against ATOS decisions?
The Independent comments,
Figures from the DWP show that one in five recommendations by the Atos firm that suggest benefit recipients are fit for work are overturned at appeal. DWP say the ‘one in five’ figure comes with a caveat: that often more information is being presented at appeal than they were originally party to.
Disability minister Mike Penning last week told MPs the scale of appeals – around 600,000 since its introduction – meant there was “real concern” about the work being carried out. The new proposals are particularly worrying given that anyone wanting to appeal a decision that they are fit to work first has to have all their paperwork looked at again, while receiving no sickness benefits. The Citizens Advice Bureau believes this will result in thousands of people being wrongly forced to survive on no income at all.
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