13 February 2014

Good FOI Request - Mandatory Reconsiderations

This is a rather good Freedom of Information request. It's not by me but it asks a question that I'd been considering.

A "Mandatory Reconsideration" is something that has been happening since October 2013 to some Employment and Support Allowance claimants. Here's how it works:

What used to happen was if your ESA claim failed, you could appeal to a tribunal straight away. While you were waiting for your case to be heard, you'd still be paid your benefit. When you consider that around 40% of appeals were successful, this rightly stopped a lot of ill and disabled people being destitute,

The change in October 2013 was to force these people to ask the Department for Work and Pensions to look at their case again, a Mandatory Reconsideration and have that completed before they were allowed to appeal to the tribunal. You can see the attraction - there is potential to resolve issues quickly and at reduced cost. The problem is that during the Mandatory Reconsideration, ESA benefit is stopped. and as the DWP has no obligation to do the work with any speed, sick people could be left without any income for long time. Once the process is complete, the claimant can appeal and the benefit payments restart.

Notice that I said that things could go wrong in this way. That's why I think this FOI request is good. It asks a question that might show the process to be really speedy and not worth making a fuss about. Or it might reveal a scandalous delay leading to human suffering.

You might like to check here after 6 March 2014 to see how the DWP is performing in this respect.

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