The Department for Work and Pensions has blamed the high rate of successful appeals against decisions to deny disabled people employment and support allowance on failure to collect evidence.
In April the DWP revealed that 29% of decisions were contested and 39% of those appeals were successful.
“A large proportion is because additional evidence has been presented,” said Berni Mundy, policy officer at the Department for Work and Pensions’ working age benefits division, which oversees the implementation of ESA.
Ann Begg, chair of the House of Commons’ work and pensions select committee, said the assessors were failing to use all the information available to them in their original decisions. “It doesn’t seem to have any relevance to the decisions they make,” she said.
“If you have a high rate of appeals you have to look at what is wrong with the process.”
At a Disability Alliance conference in London on benefits and employment for disabled people, Mundy’s colleagues at Jobcentre Plus outlined plans for more customer contact throughout the assessment process.
They said those being assessed would be called by staff to inform them of the decision and perhaps ask for more information.
“We have learned that the more interaction you have with the customer the more you avoid [the need for more information],” said Mundy. “That is not meant to divert the customer from appealing, it’s meant to get that information.”
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