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U.K. DWP "No-Brainer" Benefits Cases

Discussion in 'Work, Finances and Disability Insurance' started by MsUnderstood, Nov 12, 2017.

  1. MsUnderstood

    MsUnderstood Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    This article published on November 9, 2017 might be of interest to those in the U.K. Here are a few excerpts:

    "A Senior Judge Has Suggested Charging The Government For Every "No-Brainer" Benefits Case It Loses In Court

    Britain’s most senior tribunal judge says most of the benefits cases that reach court are based on bad decisions where the Department for Work and Pensions has no case at all.

    Sir Ernest Ryder, senior president of tribunals, also said the quality of evidence provided by the DWP is so poor it would be “wholly inadmissible” in any other court.

    In an extraordinary outburst against what he said was the incompetence of the department, he said he and his fellow judges were so incensed by the volume of cases where there was “no justifiable defence to the appeal” that they were considering sending them back – or charging the DWP for the cases it loses.

    The percentage of cases lost by the DWP on appeal has been growing rapidly. In 2007, 44% of cases heard in the Social Security and Child Support tribunal went against the DWP. Ryder said the figures have now risen to a “staggering” 61%.

    He said this was because in most instances the DWP simply had no case at all.

    Benefits assessments have been mired in controversy since being outsourced to private companies who are encouraged to cut claimants."

    The article continues by discussing the lack of help for PIP appeals, now running at 100,000 per year, and that complaints against the PIP assessment process increased by almost 880 percent last year.

    One former benefits advisor at a Citizen Advice office stated that: ". . . the decision-making was so bad; medical evidence from the practitioners actually treating the client was usually ignored or marginalised, in favour of ‘assessments’ by a disability assessor, who was usually a nurse with no specialist knowledge of the client’s condition, but who had undertaken a short course on assessing disabilities and had examined the client for 30 minutes."

    Read the entire article here:
    https://www.buzzfeed.com/emilydugan...based-on-bad?utm_term=.lqb8Yl9X32#.ifvOZ48Dk5
     
  2. Sasha

    Sasha Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Great idea! The DWP currently has no disincentive to stop hurting sick and vulnerable people.
     
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  3. Trish

    Trish Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Apart from the huge stress on already suffering people that having to go to appeal involves, there is also probably a huge proportion of people denied the benefits who simply don't have the resources and support to cope with going to appeal.

    The whole process is ridiculously unwieldy. In many cases, a simple report from a GP should be sufficient to recognise the person's needs.

    Instead there is
    a lengthy form for the patient to fill in,
    a medical done by someone with no expertise in that person's particular condition,
    a 'decision maker' who only sees the paperwork,
    and then if denied, a mandatory reconsideration by another 'decision maker',
    then if denied, a tribunal involving judges and medical experts.

    It's ridiculous.
     
  4. Valentijn

    Valentijn Moderator Staff Member

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    I don't think it's an accident, and the judge probably doesn't either. The current system has been created specifically to deny benefits to people entitled to them, while denying that anyone is accountable for the improper denials.

    The government is passing the assessments to someone else, so it's not their fault. The assessment companies can't help it if some of their employees are dishonest, so it's not their fault. The assessors aren't qualified and lack the resources to do proper assessments, so we can't really blame them either.

    Except they're really all acting inappropriately, even if there's not much evidence of intent. The government is paying the assessment companies to cut people, almost certainly with some financial incentive paid for them to do so. The assessment companies are putting pressure on their employees to cut people. Employees are deliberately lying to keep their jobs or for additional financial incentives.

    The tribunals are paying the price, and taxpayers who are funding a grossly inefficient system. Even with people being cut from benefits or bullied into killing themselves, the increased need for judicial proceedings are a huge expense. Actual costs are just being moved around so that people can deny that they exist.

    People should be marching on Parliament with torches and pitchforks, and not just the ones directly harmed by this fiasco. True fiscal conservatives should be just as appalled at the level of waste resulting.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
  5. Trish

    Trish Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I seem to have mislaid my pitchfork. :sob:
     
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  6. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Possession of fire or a pitchfork with 2 miles of the houses of Parliament is probably punishable by indefinite imprisonment without charge and thrice hourly beatings by people in black uniforms with no numbers on - as is filming such people.
     
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  7. Andy

    Andy Administrator Staff Member

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    Here you go... ;)

    -------€
    or
    -------£
     
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  8. Sly Saint

    Sly Saint Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Whatever happened to Damian Greens promise of excluding people with chronic illnesses............that he then clarified would be done on an individual case by case basis.......ie what they were doing in the first place and continue to doo_O
     
  9. large donner

    large donner Established Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think charging the DWP for each no brainer case it loses is not such a good idea as it will cost money to the public purse.

    Perhaps the individuals involved should be identified and have their incomes sanctioned to below the minimum income required to live on and should also be requested to attend regular appointments with income coaches who tell them to work more hours to make up for the losses they have incurred.

    However one small difference is that any dependent children they have should not be punished by cutting the offenders income, even I am not mean enough to wish this punishment on someones children unlike the government of this country who happily push starving families to food banks and homelessness in the name of helping hard working families.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
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  10. Wonko

    Wonko Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    As all the "mistakes" seem to be made by people above 3 feet tall surely any rational person would agree that the DWP should immediately introduce a policy to ensure all of it's staff are no longer above 3 feet tall - I believe this single measure would drastically cut the "mistakes" down to a more manageable size.

    If it works in chocolate factories.......
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2017
  11. Joel

    Joel Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I won a PIP appeal myself this year. The DWP's case was complete rubbish and overturned almost every bit they looked at. Basically, as the citizens advice person says they completely disregard all evidence from other medical practitioners, even if they are much more senior than the assessor, and they give no reasons for doing so. It was a complete joke, but caused me financial difficulties and a load of stress that made me more ill. As bad as my case was I think it was typical of everyday cases the tribunal sees.
     
  12. Sly Saint

    Sly Saint Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    That is the logical conclusion, however the whole process was supposed to reduce costs and has ended up costing more than if they'd left it alone.

    All that would happen is they would somehow figure out other ways of making it harder to claim or
    other ways of reducing the benefits still further.

    (They've already introduced means testing by the back door on ESA (ie you only get 1 years worth if you are put into the Work Related Activity group) and then it is means tested.
    I think it is only a matter of time before all disability benefits are means tested.)
     
  13. Diluted-biscuit

    Diluted-biscuit Established Member

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    Sounds like a good idea, hit them where it hurts, the wallet!
     
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  14. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Quite so. The standard slippery bar-stewards' strategy of creating intermediaries so the buck can always be passed down the line.

    What these people never seem to realise about plausible deniability, is that the denials cease to be plausible once the behaviour becomes an established pattern.
     
  15. Barry

    Barry Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    In principle I agree, but the problem in this case is that it would ultimately be the taxpayers' wallet.
     
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  16. Diluted-biscuit

    Diluted-biscuit Established Member

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    I disagree. The point of fines like this is to make them think twice about making pointless stupid rejections in the first place. Its the fear of having to pay that encourage changes that cut down the number of appeals, which aren’t cheap in themselves and of course paid for by the taxpayer. It should have minimal effect on public finances but a huge effect on the people not having to appeal their case for no reason.
     
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  17. NelliePledge

    NelliePledge Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    The whole set up is flawed isn't it. It is never going to be an easy thing to get right and no doubt if left to GP advice there would still be a lot of issues especially for ME patients and a total lottery where you could get people treated properly, or GPs being too strict or too lax.
    I don't understand why DWP are taking so many to tribunal. They should be reviewing their decision making guidance based on the case law. Or if the rules aren't meeting the policy objectives they have to tighten them through changes to primary or secondary legislation. the fact is it was always going to be practically difficult to tighten access to disability benefits but this was,at the time, seen as a less scary challenge politically than subjecting retirement pensions to austerity limits. Which would have been a very simple way administratively of making savings on welfare.
     
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  18. Trish

    Trish Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I think the organisation that needs to be hit in the pocket is the private company that has been given the contract to do the medicals. In my area it is ATOS which is, I understand, one of the huge multinational companies that take on practically anything, then employ and train the people to do the task, cutting corners and bending rules whenever possible in order to make maximum profit.

    I gather that in many cases the problem is the people they employ to do the medicals - nurses or physios mainly I think, are not knowledgeable about most of the disabilities they are assessing. For example, a physio is unlikely to understand the level of disability caused by mental illness. The reports they produce are not a true reflection of the patient's situation and what they can and can't do.

    I think in any case that goes to appeal where the report is found to be wrong or inadequate, the company, ATOS, should have a heavy fine reflecting the full cost of the appeal and a compensation payment to the patient (I wish).

    I suspect as a result the company would pull out of the contract, as they do when the profits drop away, leaving the government forced to directly employ and train the medical assessors, or redesign the whole system.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
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  19. Valentijn

    Valentijn Moderator Staff Member

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    But the government won't do that, since ATOS is doing the job which the government paid them to do. If they are not violating their contract with the government, then they probably can't be punished for what's happening.

    Pulling out of a contract is almost always a violation of that contract, and likely to have some nasty expenses involved. And there will always be another profit-driven company ready to step in and squeeze the government for every penny that it's willing to pay.

    The government created this mess, and they're the only ones in a position to fix it. They don't want to, so the voters have to force them to do it or replace them with politicians who will.
     
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  20. Sly Saint

    Sly Saint Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    ATOS did pull out of ESA (because all the bad press was affecting their share price amongst other things).............then the DWP hired Maximus............but then they got ATOS back to do PIP assessments(?) they must have come up with some changes/financial incentives(?)

    Maximus tried where possible not to use their name (to try and protect the brand) but it hasn't worked and are going the same way:
    "
    Maximus miss fitness-to-work test targets despite spiralling costs
    Company took over contract from Atos in March to carry out medical assessments of claimants for ESA. The bill for ESA and PIP assessments has now reached £579m" (from2016)

    "
    Maximus ‘admits’ using brutal and dangerous suicide questions"

    https://www.disabledgo.com/blog/201...and-dangerous-suicide-questions/#.Wglcm7iLDCM

    But then there is the introduction of Universal Credit which (at the moment) is replacing 6 benefits and includes Income-related ESA.

    https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Benefit-.../Which-benefits-will-Universal-Credit-replace
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2017
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