Posted by: John Brace | 13 October 2019

With 75% of PIP Tribunal appeals resulting in an overturned decision, isn’t it time the Government accepted recommendations from the Second Independent Review to improve trust and transparency?

With 75% of PIP Tribunal appeals resulting in an overturned decision, isn’t it time the Government accepted recommendations from the Second Independent Review to improve trust and transparency?


Earlier this month (October 2019) I made a FOI request to the Department for Work and Pensions for the two independent reports into the operation of PIP assessments.

Here are links to both independent reviews:-

First Independent Review into PIP assessments (83 pages) or Easy Read version (20 pages) or Large Print version (182 pages)

Second Independent Review into PIP assessments (98 pages) or Easy Read version (28 pages)

I’m just going to concentrate on two recommendations to improve trust and transparency made to the Government in the Second Independent Review that were both rejected (which I will quote below):

Recommendation 4a
That the transparency of decision making is improved with claimants being provided with the assessment report with their decision letter.”

Recommendation 4b
In the longer term, offer audio recording of the assessment as the default with the option for the claimant to opt out.”

In the Government’s response to the recommendations from the Second Independent Review it rules out both recommendations for the following reasons:-

Recommendation 4a
i) the cost of doing so and
ii) if it goes beyond mandatory reconsideration to an appeal to the First-tier Tribunal then the PIP assessor’s report is included in the bundle for the appeal sent to the Claimant.

Recommendation 4b
i) that some Claimants didn’t want the PIP assessment recorded,
ii) that the DWP wanted to do a further feasibility study (after having done a pilot recording of 400 assessments) and
iii) that claimants who wished to record their assessments can do so within existing guidelines.

This is what the Second Independent Review stated as the reasons behind making recommendations 4a and 4b above:-

“Claimant issues persist at the disputes stage. Claimants expressed concern about the Mandatory Reconsideration process, in particular when relating this to the provision of Further Evidence, with many feeling that their decision was not looked at again in a sufficiently thorough way. Tribunal Judges were often sceptical about the thoroughness of the Mandatory Reconsideration process. Furthermore, currently 65% of appeal hearings overturn the initial decision and this is clearly eroding the trust of claimants and stakeholders in the system. There are differing perceptions as to why so many appeals overturn initial decisions which highlights the case for further research.”


“In the longer term, transparency could be further increased by making audio recording the norm for face-to-face assessments.” & “The Review considers it important that audio recording is offered on a default basis but with an opt-out available to Claimants.”

The current overturn rate of PIP decisions at Tribunal is higher than it was at the time of the Second Independent Review and for the most recent published quarter (April to June 2019) 75% of PIP appeals result in the decision being overturned at the First-tier Tribunal stage. Each PIP Tribunal case took an average of 30 weeks from start to finish, on top of the average 10 weeks at the mandatory reconsideration stage.

There must be something very flawed in the way the DWP are making decisions on PIP for 75% of appeals on decisions to the First-tier Tribunal to be successful.

On Claimants recording their own PIP assessments the Second Independent Review had this to state on the topic, “Claimants are currently able to audio-record their face-to-face assessment, but the process is cumbersome and bureaucratic with many restrictions in place. The claimant needs to know how to make a specific request in advance and source their own equipment. This sets an unreasonable obstacle in their way.”

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  1. I am very interested in the comments about the DWP as I am V annoyed with the DWO. They notified me that I have been overpaid by £6250 since June 1st 2013 to now. Very strange allegation because I wasn’t eligible for my OAPension unti 28th Aug 2015, I think I have their attention because I have now claimed fraud and theft of public fund and maladministration. You couldn’t make it up could you.

    • Thanks for your comment Alan, surely it should be easy enough to prove your date of birth to DWP with a copy of your birth certificate?

      Or has someone else pretended to be you?

  2. Hi John, I agree with you and it would have been so easy for them to ask for a copy of my BC but they do have my NI #which carries my DOB. Even if they were correct which they are not, they did not prewarn me of any pending problem. To add insult to injury they have advised me they will start repayment at £ 120 per week. Let see how they treat my allegations of maladministration and fraud by DWP officials.
    It is a very simple equation, they claim I have been overpaid £6500 from June 2013 and my pension didn’t start until the end of Aug 2015.

    • Thanks for your comment Alan.

      Does the letter about it give you a process to challenge the decision (for example for many other DWP decisions there’s a process of mandatory reconsideration that you can request)?

  3. Just another update on my FOIA issue which we have discussed before. The ICO have confirmed to me that ALL my FOIA request and SAR will be automatically dismissed under vexatious or frivolous which is a serious breach of the FOIA and Data. The ICO now apply section 50(2)(c) to all my FOIA requests which in essence is a blankets ban on my requests.

    • Thanks for your comment Alan, I wasn’t aware that subject access requests could be turned down on such grounds. Have they referred to a specific section of the Data Protection Act 2018 in their response?