There is a proposal in the Draft Deregulation Bill, which was presented to Parliament in July, to repeal the Senior President of Tribunals’ duty to prepare & publish;
‘an annual report on standards of decision-making in the making of certain decisions by the Secretary of State against which an appeal lies to the First-tier Tribunal.’
http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm86/8642/8642.pdf Section 35 (Page 32).
Draft Deregulation Bill Published July 2013
Administration of justice
35 Repeal of Senior President of Tribunals’ duty to report on standards In section 15A of the Social Security Act 1998 (functions of Senior President of Tribunals), omit subsections (2) and (3) (which require the preparation and publication of an annual report on standards of decision-making in the making of certain decisions of the Secretary of State against which an appeal lies to the First-tier Tribunal).
In the past the Senior President’s report has been highly critical of the DWP and Atos:
‘This deeply flawed medical assessment process was identified for a long time by His Honour Judge Robert Martin as President of the Appeal Tribunals. For over a decade Judge Martin’s consecutive annual reports constantly identified serious problems with the AH medical assessments (8).
Indeed, Judge Martin was insistent that:
“..the same problems and errors are repeated year after year, with no sign that anyone takes any notice of feedbacks from Tribunals”
as confirmed in evidence to the Work and Pensions Select Committee.(9)
The evidence confirmed that almost half of the Appeal Tribunals find in favour of the applicant (9) with 70% of claims being upheld for claimants who have representation at the Appeal Tribunal.(10) However, the stress and distress of the need to wait for several months to attend an appeal, in order to retain financial support to which these claimants are morally entitled, is totally ignored.
If these were civil cases, generous compensation would be offered as an acknowledgement of the unnecessary distress and suffering caused to the many victims.
However, all successful applicants can expect is a reluctant reinstatement of their disability payments, and a back dated award to when they were forced to accept Jobseekers Allowance instead of Incapacity Benefit or, more recently, the new Employment Support Allowance.(ESA) DWP letters to their many victims remain unnecessarily hostile and the enforced disability debt is an ever growing problem.
These victims of this AH assessment system loose their disability funding instantly, when they fail to obtain the necessary points at assessment. Yet their DLA payments are already committed to fund their Motability car or to identify the need for essential home care as provided by local authorities.
This is brutal, and these consequences appear to be dismissed by the government.
(8) HH Judge Robert Martin: President of Appeal Tribunals, Report 2007-08
Memorandum submitted by HH Judge Robert Martin
Senior President of Tribunals’ Annual Report 2012:
Senior President of Tribunals’ Annual Report 2013:
(9) Decision making and appeals in the benefit system. Second Report of Session 2009-1 – the House of Commons Work and Pensions Select committee:
Amid the avalanche of welfare reforms being implemented by a government intent on reducing the benefits bill by £18bn, one controversial measure that seems to have fallen below the radar is a change to the appeals process for welfare benefit claimants.
There are fears that the change, which will deny people the right to appeal decisions about sickness and disability benefits until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has first reconsidered their case, could leave claimants penniless.
Moreover, its introduction, just as legal aid is abolished for many welfare benefit cases, could leave thousands of vulnerable people unable to access the law to secure the income they are entitled to. The double whammy has been attacked as “a disgrace and a scandal”.
The revised appeals process, called “mandatory reconsideration”, will be applied to anyone who, from October, fails the controversial work capability assessment (WCA) and wants to challenge the decision to deny them sickness benefits.
The government has refused to set a time limit for how long the DWP could take to reconsider a judgment by the mainly computer-led fit-to-work test, but while cases are being reconsidered, claimants who were on employment and support allowance (ESA) will no longer be allowed to claim this sickness benefit and will be automatically transferred to jobseeker’s allowance (JSA)…
Change to disability benefits appeals process could leave people penniless A double whammy of a revised appeals process and the abolition of legal aid threatens to deny benefits to vulnerable claimants The Guardian,