Now, given that the DWP's own figures say that it takes on average 28 weeks for an appeal to progress from arriving at the DWP to the first appeal tribunal hearing, this means that sick and disabled people could routinely face a 7 month period where they don't receive the support they need. This wouldn't be a problem were it not for the fact that 40% of appeals that make it to tribunal are successful (when claimants have access to advice from the CAB that rises to a 70% success rate). So, if the DWP goes ahead with this then this would mean that hundreds of thousands of sick and disabled people be forced to go without the support they are entitled to and need for seven months! On average!
Of course, you might say that this is "speculation" or "baseless gossip". Well, that would be a fair enough comment were it not for the fact that DWP minister Chris Grayling was recently questioned about this precise matter:
Gemma Doyle: I thank the Minister for his detailed answer. Will he take this opportunity to refute press reports that he will cut the ESA of people who appeal against assessment decisions, especially in the light of the information that 40% of cases are being won on appeal?
Chris Grayling: What I expect to see as a result of the changes following Professor Harrington’s review in the summer is a significant reduction in the number of cases that go to appeal when the Department’s initial review and the reconsideration are upheld. In order to ease pressure on individuals, we have tried to ensure that there is a proper reconsideration service in Jobcentre Plus, so that they can produce new evidence at that stage and need not use the Courts Service at all.
- HansardSo, basically, he's refused to say that there aren't any plans to cut ESA payments to people appealing. Which is politician code for "these plans are being considered but I don't want to talk about it". And the truly outrageous thing about these plans are that, if implemented, they would be punishing a lot of disabled people simply because the DWP's contractror mucked up the assessment!
In short, this is yet another bit if idiocy from the DWP which could prove deeply destructive to the well being of the sick and disabled. If there's anyone in the DWP with any intelligence or sense of decency at all then they will put an end to this immediately.
And, if you're as outraged by this as I am, then you can put pressure on the DWP about another proposal which will hit disabled people by helping with the LY ESA campaign.