Employment and Support Allowance Appeals

Oral Answers to Questions — Justice – in the House of Commons at 11:30 am on 13th November 2012.

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Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore Labour, Edinburgh East 11:30 am, 13th November 2012

What progress he has made in encouraging tribunal judges to supply feedback to Department for Work and Pensions decision-makers on the reasons for successful employment and support allowance appeals.

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

The provision of feedback on tribunals’ decisions is a matter for the judiciary, but new arrangements were introduced in July. They were agreed by the chamber president and the Department for Work and Pensions, and allow judges to select reasons for their decisions from an agreed list.

Photo of Sheila Gilmore Sheila Gilmore Labour, Edinburgh East

At the weekend, I spoke to a constituent who was making her second appeal in a year. She was told that there would not be a decision for four months, although the number of tribunal members appointed in Scotland has doubled in the last year. Does her experience not illustrate the huge importance of ensuring that proper reasons for decisions are given to DWP decision-makers, so that the decisions are right in the first place? That would be better than the provision of a drop-down menu or a very limited selection of reasons.

Photo of Helen Grant Helen Grant The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Women and Equalities

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service is working closely with the DWP to improve the quality of the original decisions and also the reconsideration process, so that only appropriate appeals reach the tribunal. As for waiting times, dealing with matters in a timely fashion is of course very important. I am pleased to announce that the waiting time between the receipt of an appeal to disposal has fallen from 22 weeks to 19.3 weeks, and that in Scotland it is down to 12.6 weeks.