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DWP Decision Making Report

The House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee have published their report into the Decision making and appeals in the benefits system

The report is none to complimentary about the decision making and appeals (DMA) system or the DWP’s management of this. 

The report recognises that while the DWP has met its targets official errors have increased substantially since 2000-2001.  It highlights the lack of reporting, scrutiny of the DMA system, lack of publication of data as key issues which mean that it is impossible to measure the agency’s decision making performance.

It cites the DWP computer-generated letters as being ineffective at communicating the reasons for decisions being made.  Anyone who has received a computer generated letter from ANY government agency can probably appreciate this finding!

Atos Healthcare’s LiMA system also came in for criticism for both the use of “cut and paste” in assessments and the misrepresentation of claimant responses.  There are also worrying findings about the way terminally ill people are being treated.

The Committee are clearly getting quite peeved about these issues as they are calling on the Government AGAIN to establish a Welfare Commission to examine the benefits system and look at alternative simpler systems that can be understood and administered more accurately.

Recommendations include:
 

  • publication of data on payment accuracy and claim clearance rates for major benefits (including JSA).
  • production of reports for decision making standards.
  • improvement in data collection on DMA.
  • the reinstatement of Decision Making to the Standards Committee title to ensure its main purpose is clear.
  • more work to be undertaken in simplifying benefit claim forms.
  • the process of migrating existing claimants from Incapacity Benefit to ESA, subject to a Work Capability Assessment, does not commence before the review of the WCA has been completed and recommendations considered.
  • better consideration is given to the information from medical specialists in making decisions about benefit entitlement.
  • improvement in the content of notification letters to help claimants understand how a decision has been reached.
  • the DWP being subject to a one month time limit to submit its response to an appeal.

 

An interesting read in an otherwise barren period of news. 

 


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