ESA & DLA Appeals can now be cancelled without evidence

January 12, 2012 by: Gordon McFadden

Claimants employment and support allowance (ESA) and disability living allowance (DLA) appeals can now be withdrawn simply by a decision maker telling a tribunal clerk, without providing any evidence whatsoever, that the claimant told them on the telephone they no longer wished to carry on. The shock change to the principle that appeals can only be withdrawn by the claimant themselves, and only in writing, was introduced last month in a bid to reduce the growing backlog of appeals. 

The new rules apply provided that the decision maker has not yet prepared the bundle of papers and sent them to the tribunals service. If the papers are already with the tribunals service then an appeal can only be withdrawn by the claimant in writing in the usual way.

According to guidance issued to decision makers, if the claimant indicates in a telephone conversation that they don’​t wish to continue the appeal they should be asked to confirm this in writing and all work on the case should stop. If no written response is received within 7 days a reminder should be sent telling the claimant the appeal will be withdrawn in a further 7 days.

However, the decision maker doesn’​t need to wait 7 days or send any reminder at all if, in their opinion, it was clear from the original telephone conversation that the claimant did not intend to send written confirmation. Instead they can simply send a copy of the claimants original appeal form to a tribunal clerk along with a standard letter saying that:

“​In telephoning the claimant to discuss the matter of their appeal the claimant stated that they no longer wished to continue with their appeal and asked for it to be withdrawn.”​

At the same time the decision maker should also write to the claimant telling them what they have done. But the claimant will not be given any contact details for the tribunals service, so will still have to talk or write to the decision maker if they want to try to stop their appeal being withdrawn.

Once the tribunals service have received the request from the DWP, the decision to end the appeal will be rubber stamped by a tribunal clerk without the need for further evidence.

The claimant will then receive a letter from the tribunals service stating that the appeal has been withdrawn. If they wish to have it reinstated they must make a request to the tribunal service within one month of the date that the tribunal service received the letter from the DWP asking for the appeal to be withdrawn. This date will be in the letter to the claimant.

The new system is wide open to abuse. It leaves the way clear for DWP staff to try to ‘​persuade​’​ claimants that their appeal has no hope of success and that it would be a waste of everyone’​s time to carry on. The incentive for decision makers is that if they can successfully do this they can save themselves the trouble of preparing the appeal papers. It also allows for genuine or deliberate misunderstandings on the part of decision makers as to whether claimants wish to continue their appeal.

Whilst it is true that claimants will have the opportunity to ask to have their appeal reinstated, for some people the shock and confusion caused by receiving a letter telling them their appeal has been withdrawn will be sufficient to make them give up entirely.

 

Filed under: Policy Latest

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