Clause 99

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    This part of the bill contains proposals to change the appeals arrangements whereby a reconsideration stage would be put in place ahead of any escalation to formal appeal.Sounds good in principle, as does the whole concept of having a time limit for the whole end to end process.This letter from AJTC to IDS recommends a 5 day fixed target for the reconsideration stage which would include a face-to-face meeting with the claimant (or alternatively a telephone discussion).I wonder how many local authorities, and DWP and HMRC for that matter, could realistically meet such a ‘target’.Challenging or what?

    John Boxall

    the difficulty in these targets is that either side can often spend a long time getting information/representation/negotiating/whatever. while I am sure that many cases could be resolved quicker than they are – especially by the DWP, there are some cases that will take time of the correct decision is to be made.

    Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure nineteen nineteen and six, result happiness. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. The blossom is blighted, the leaf is withered, the god of day goes down upon the dreary scene, and—and in short you are for ever floored.

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    Kevin D

    Based on many experiences, I don’t agree that there is any necessity to reintroduce a mechanism that requires a formal reconsideration stage when an appeal would otherwise have been made.

    The reconsideration option already exists. If the LA revises an appealed decision in favour of the appellant, the appeal simply lapses, so there is no need to compile a submission. There are many other ways to massively reduce the number of appeals / disputes, not least of which is to simplify the legislation (I know, blah blah…) and to substantially improve the appalling quality of decision making. However, I have long since given up on anyone in any position of influence recognising the obvious.

    The reintroduction of formal reconsideration stage simply gives LAs (and the DWP) carte blanche to “reassure” a clmt the decision is correct and, effectively, put appellants off pursuing what would otherwise be perfectly legitimate appeals. I have lost count of the number of occasions on which LAs (and sometimes the DWP) deliberately obstruct appeals (in any number of ways) and, far from being penalised, it appears that approach is now effectively going to be adopted in law. Anecdotally, I am aware from third parties of at least 3 current cases (different LAs) where either appeal rights were simply not given and/or notifications of revisions / supersessions are being deliberately withheld (thereby preventing the clmt disputing the latest purported decision) and/or a flat refusal to forward an appeal to TTS. In the past, I have also been aware of cases where appellants have been telephoned and “persuaded” to withdraw appeals that would unquestionably have been successful. I also know first hand of two LAs that habitually sent a standard pro-forma “your appeal has no chance, sign the cut-off slip below to withdraw…” and, in the event there was no response, filed the appeal away with no further action. One of those LAs eventually changed its practice following a curt letter to the Chief Exec.

    In my view, this change will undoubtedly be brought in irrespective of any resistance and, equally undoubtedly, it will, on the whole, be to the substantial detriment of appellants.

    Kevin D

    Some time ago, I’m sure there was a suggestion that time limits might be introduced within which LAs would have to deal with appeals. If such limits were introduced (assuming it was done properly), the 5-day limit to contact claimants would be superfluous.

    Even though personal circumstances mean I can no longer keep up with the various proposals and papers being floated around, it does *appear* that some of the ideas are being put out there to test the water for reaction. I’m not sure if this is merely perception; time will doubtless tell.

    And Lee, you and I in agreement on something?? Blimey ;).

    Lee Fearon

    presumably the premise for the change us that LA/DWP notification letters do not effectively communicate the decsions and the reasons on which the decision is based.

    If this is the case, they may have a point as explaining the decsion “face to face” could arguably reduce the number of appeals which have no chance of success, getting through to the Tribunal stage and clogging up the appeals process.

    On a practical note, I agree with both John and Peem. The time and resources required to get the appellant to interview makes it unlikely that we’ll be able to hit the proposed 5 day target.

    In view of this, I also agree with Kevin, which is unusual,(only joking, Kev)in that it will create further delays for those with legitimate grounds for appeal, in what is, let’s face it, already a lengthy process.

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