Ipswich Unemployed Action.

Campaigning for Unemployed Rights.

Posts Tagged ‘Appeals

More Spiteful Rules for Claimants Trying to Get Help with Benefit Problems from MPs.

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Image result for dwp

Always makes “decisions in the best interests of the claimant.”

New rules restricting MPs from intervening with officials directly to resolve benefit payment problems on behalf of constituents are a major barrier to justice, ministers have been warned. ( Guardian).

(Without detracting from the details what this means is that you will have to mount a quasi-legal case to involve a MP *and* let the DWP, who always have our best interests at heart, know what you are doing…”The DWP has told MPs it will not discuss individual cases with them unless they have the explicit online consent of claimants..”)

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has told MPs it will not discuss individual universal credit cases with them unless the claimant has given formal “explicit consent” by issuing detailed instructions via their online DWP account.

MPs said the restrictions will create a fresh layer of bureaucracy and pile extra pressure on vulnerable people who have approached their MP as a last resort to resolve problems such as non-payment of benefits.

Up to now, MPs have been able to contact the Department for Work and Pensions directly to deal with benefit problems on the basis that they had the “implicit consent” of the claimant who raised the issue with them.

“It [the restriction] makes the job more tiresome, slows it down, and creates more work for constituents. It’s barmy and unnecessary, and it’s a major barrier to justice,” said Frank Field, the chairman of the work and pensions select committee.

Welfare rights advisers have also raised the issue, warning the DWP last year that restrictions around “explicit consent” made it near-impossible for them to resolve benefit issues on behalf of some vulnerable clients, including for example those with learning disabilities, or those gravely ill in hospital beds who are unable to access their online DWP accounts.

Field said he had raised the issue in person recently with the work and pensions secretary, Damian Green, who Field said was sympathetic. However, this week, a caseworker in Field’s constituency office trying to resolve a benefits issue on behalf of a constituent was refused by the DWP.

The DWP’s alternative News Factory replied,

A DWP spokesman said: “This issue has been raised with the department and we are actively looking into it. The DWP always takes steps to protect personal data and make decisions in the best interests of the claimant.”

But….

Karen Buck MP said: “People come to me because we [MPs] are the only named people in the system they can find. If we have to turn people away, asking them to jump through hoops before we can help them, it is only going to make people feel disempowered.”

She added: “The more complex the demands we put on vulnerable people, the easier it should be for representatives to intervene on their behalf.”

The note to MPs, sent in February, says that before MPs become involved in a case constituents must provide the DWP “with the specific details of the issues they would like us to discuss with you” via their online journal, through which all their universal credit business is transacted.

The DWP’s director general of universal credit, Neil Couling wrote to welfare advisers in January arguing that explicit consent was necessary because of the risk of that disclosure of material to third parities would breach data protection rules.

He wrote: “I realise that as bona fide advisers this may seem unduly cautious, but we face regular attempts by unscrupulous organisations and individuals to access information from us and we need to take all reasonable steps to protect the position of claimants and their data which we hold.”

The explicit consent rule applies to claimants on the full service universal credit, of which there are around 450,000 in the UK. It does not apply to people claiming legacy benefits such as housing benefit.

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Written by Andrew Coates

March 6, 2017 at 1:17 pm

Cash Charges for Appeals Against Sanctions.

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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.

Written by Andrew Coates

February 26, 2014 at 10:40 am