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?
First publication date: 13th October 2019, 17:02 (BST).
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:-
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):
That the transparency of decision making is improved with claimants being provided with the assessment report with their decision letter.”
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:-
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.
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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