ESA appeals figures “absolutely appalling” – Stephen Lloyd

New stats from the Department for Work and Pensions show that not far off two thirds of decisions that people are fit for work are overturned on appeal.  Now, think about it. You have to go through a stressful assessment process. You get your decision. You then have to ask for a mandatory reconsideration which will almost always have the same outcome. You then have the stress of waiting for months for an appeal. Then you have the stress of actually going to the Tribunal and facing questions from a panel. By this time a year or more could have gone by.

In any other organisation, such figures would lead to sackings and questions and enquiries  and sorting stuff out. Not in the Department of Work and Pensions under Tory misrule.

Our Work and Pensions spokesperson Stephen Lloyd called the figures “absolutely appalling.”

These figures are absolutely appalling, but of little surprise to me. With the many constituents who come through my office and those of other MPs’ across the country, we see with our own eyes some shocking decisions by Work Capability tribunals.

It is time that we stop faceless corporations making money off the backs of disabled people, while providing poor quality service.

The Liberal Democrats are campaigning to bring welfare assessments in-house as a public service to our disabled neighbours. This would be fairer, improve quality and remove the profit motive from what has become a broken and soul-destroying process.

 

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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18 Comments

  • Lorenzo Cherin 9th Mar '18 - 4:45pm

    Yes to Caron, to Stephen ,to humanity!

    We must not be afraid, as Liberals, to see this is an indictment of professionals not on;ly politicians, sorry folks, well paid both directly employed staff in the public sector and indirectly in the private sector, are appalling herein often, making decisions with little care other than they are paid!

    Time to liberalise and democratise.

    Abolish the lot, every bit, basic income, now or something similar and a voluntary advice, service at a fraction of the expense !

  • The Blair Government (Minister, James Purnell) introduced ESA (for new claims only in 2008). The Coalition expanded its scope making it more stringent in 2011 (enforced 28 March 2011 – Lib Dem Minister, Steve Webb). Stephen Lloyd was on the Works and Pensions Select Committee throughout that period up to 2015.

    The problems described are not new. Atos walked out on the contract in January, 2015 and the Coalition appointed the French company Maximus instead.

    Stephen’s new stance to bring it in house is more than welcome – just a pity it couldn’t have come a bit sooner (say 2011). Surely it would be even better to abolish the whole system and go back to GP assessment days instead of a tick box system and on line computer appeals.

    At the Food Bank we see this every day.

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  • Thanks for this Caron.

    We really Liberal Democrat MP’s in Government to keep on top of this and continue to hold the Government to account.
    These are truly shocking statistics.

    Another shocking statistic to add is that to date 43% of people who have been transferred from DLA to PIP Motability, have lost their car.
    Considering the fact that we know that Personal Independence Payment assessment is also not fit for purpose and the Government has been recently been found by the courts to have been discriminatory and breached human rights laws towards people with mental health. This is disgraceful.
    The Government is still yet to repeal the unlawful legislation it introduced.

    What is even more absurd is that Motability customers who are forced to leave the scheme because their benefits have been removed are being given a cash payment of £2,000 to replace their vehicles over £100 million has been paid out in grants, further grants are made to some claimants who lose their car but who need a drive-in wheelchair vehicle, or wheelchair access and the controls built around the wheelchair in the driver’s position. In total additional grants totalling £20 million have been given to 8,500 former Motability users who need these adaptations.
    If people are disabled that they need these adaptions to a vehicle and are entitled to these grants, then surly they should have retained their disability benefit in the first place.

    We need urgent questions to the Secretary of state on why this legislation has not yet been reversed, why people are still being assessed by the criteria that has been ruled unlawful and by the governments own admission, will have to review these cases and add them to the 1.6 million cases they have already admitted to that they will need to review.

  • sorry i should say for clarity to the above post.
    That the cash payments and grants that are given to disabled people when they removed from the motability scheme does not come from the DWP as such.
    It comes from the £2.4 Billion surplus that the “charity” is sitting on.
    Of course, that surplus is money that came from the tax payer in the first place to support disabled people though benefits, it is those disability benefits that are now acting as a massive surplus for this “charity”

    The Government is leaning on Motability to use some of it’s surplus for these grants.

    The whole situation stinks and disabled people up and down the country and being denied the vital support that they need and should be entitled too in order to lead a more inclusive life.

  • OnceALibDem 9th Mar '18 - 9:27pm

    “Another shocking statistic to add is that to date 43% of people who have been transferred from DLA to PIP Motability, have lost their car.”

    The government’s own impact assessment for PIP had 1,040,000 people on the top band for mobility (ie those eligible for Motability). The impact assessment estimated that 760,000 people woud get the to rate of PIP mobility (again those eligible for Motability).

    That that actual ‘drop off’ rate of 43% is higher than the predicted drop off rate of 27% so there are grounds to ask why. But, the policy AS APPROVED BY THE LIB DEMS IN COALITION was for 1 in 4 people who had a motability car to lose it. As I’ve said before it was also planned to see more than 1 in 5 people who recieved DLA to lose that benefit.

    Source: https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/220176/dla-reform-wr2011-ia.pdf

  • nigel hunter 9th Mar '18 - 9:36pm

    What happens when the Motability runs out?

  • nigel hunter 9th Mar '18 - 9:37pm

    Oops when the billions that the Motability scheme has runs out?

  • @nigel hunter

    “when the billions that the Motability scheme has runs out?”

    Not very likely, this “charity” has a monopoly on the market.
    Their surplus has been rising year on year, Motability is now the largest hire and leasing business in Europe and the sixth largest insurer of motor vehicles.

    The Government is due to review 1.6 Million pip claims due to their unlawful changes to the benefit with an anticipated 220,000 people to receive an increase award.
    If only a 1/3 of those take up the motability scheme that’s 73,000 + extra motability “customers”
    They have tax advantages that gives them exemptions on VAT and also on Insurance Premium Tax. This all goes towards paying the excessive salaries within the “charity”

    The Motability Operations arm is owned by four major clearing banks – Barclays, Lloyds TSB, HSBC and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

    But that is an argument for another day 🙂

  • Sean Hyland 9th Mar '18 - 10:21pm

    There is a lack of consistency in the assessment process. I have recently undergone the transition to PIP. I lost out by one point because I still had some use of the right side of my body. They did up my care component because I need more help to actually use that part of my body. I was told to try again in 6 to 12 months as my right side would likely to have worsened enough.

    I am pretty resilient in myself and am not dependent on the money but can imagine the heartbreak and stress for others. I have the support of my family but dread to think how would I cope if I was on my own.

    I am an ex senior nurse/ manager in disability and mental health but was not allowed to ask or question the qualification of those who assessed me. Just given a vague they have the appropriate background.

    As with ESA they are not fit for purpose. I argued the same when they were introduced and would continue to argue the same now. After my NHS career ended I spent some time working for the DWP so have seen both sides and that’s a whole other story.

    I would like to see a commitment to fully overhaul the benefits system to put a true desire to help those in need. Any party who came up with that would get my vote.

  • @ Matt Technically, Motability is a charity, a\lthough it is a partnership between the charitable sector, the UK government, leading banks, and the motor and insurance industries.

    It has been criticised for ‘hoarding’ £ 2.4 billion in its reserves by John Mann MP – and been criticised for the whopping £ 1 million pay packet (plus £ 1.7 million ‘compensation’ of its Chief Executive, Mike Betts. It’;s likely to face major reorganisation should there be a Labour Government.

    The controversial changes stem from PIP in 2013 – again a product of the Coalition on the Lib Dem’s watch.

  • @David Raw
    Thanks for that.

    From what I understand there are 2 arms of the motability. There is the “Charity” arm of the organisation Motability, then there is the motability operations ltd which is owned by the four banks.
    Motability is a registered non-profit charity which contracts the work to the company Motability Operations, it is the Motability operations side of the company where the large salaries seem to be leaking too

    The Government confessed it had known for at least five years that Motability has been receiving too much public money.

    It is the same old same old, Public money that is meant for the services of society and in this case, money to support disabled people to lead a more inclusive life, being wrung out and rinsed by private sector owners.

    Whatever way you look at it, disabled people are losing from all directions as usual.

    We need a massive overhaul of the benefit system.

    I am starting to think like others, that things need simplifying.
    We need to do away with all this bureaucracy and public sector involvement, introduce a Citizen income for everyone of £80 a week for adults and £40 for children, or whatever it was the round tree foundation said was needed.
    There then needs to be an extra premium for disabled people, as disabled people tend to have a higher cost of living. These assessments need to be carried out in house though and through patients GP records and not contracted out to private providers.

    It is time that Billions of pounds stopped being creamed off to private providers to the detriment of disabled people because the more it costs to administer, the more the Government wants to cut the number of claimants to make up for the costs.

  • Motability isn’t the only organisation that needs to go back in house. The same applies to Capita. Here’s their latest —- up.

    BBC News today :

    “About 17,000 ex-mineworkers were wrongly told they owed thousands of pounds in tax due to an error. One of them was 79-year-old Michael Hinchley, from Nottinghamshire, who said he was shocked after being told in a letter he owed £26,000. Capita, the administrator for the Mineworkers’ Pension Scheme, said the tax code letters were sent by mistake”.

    So much for outsourcing – as established by Tony Blair and the Con-Lib Coalition.

  • I think “two thirds of decisions are overturned at appeal” statement is a little vague. Can you help me understand if it’s two third of the decisions which go to appeal or two thirds of all decisions that go to at least mandatory reconsideration stage? It will be very interesting to see if the figures improve following the removal of targets to uphold the decisions at MR stage.

  • @DJ

    Out of all the people that ask for a Mandatory reconsideration, only 15% have there awards adjusted.
    Those that then go on to appeal at tribunal 69% of those go on to win their appeal.

    Those are shocking statistics,

    Especially when you consider there would be a significant number of people who also do not ask for a mandatory reconsideration because they find the process to stressful
    Then there are those that who do not go through with an appeal and just accept the out come of the mandatory reconsideration, because again, they have found the whole process to difficult to navigate.

    These are truly disgraceful and shocking statistics that have huge consequences for the most vulnerable people in society.

  • OnceALibDem 10th Mar '18 - 3:36pm

    “Motability isn’t the only organisation that needs to go back in house.”

    It’s never been in house. If it didn’t exist then people would be buying/leasing cars direct from dealers so just as much going into the (seemingly dreaded) private sector.

  • David Raw,

    “Surely it would be even better to abolish the whole system and go back to GP assessment days instead of a tick box system and on line computer appeals.”

    I have come to this conclusion also. The outsourcing of this process to ATOS and the Maximus has been a failed experiment that has brought about intolerable distress to too many subjected to this process.

    The LibdemVoice fringe at Conference on Universal Credit and Welfare reform was addressed by Stephen Lloyd, Caron Lindsay (as social security spokesperson for Scotland) and Jane Dodds (leader of the Welsh Libdems).

    All three drew attention to the failures of the implementation of Universal Credit and this scandal of the ESA appeals that Caron refers to in her article.

  • @ Joe Glad you agree. Just a pity the Lib Dem M.P.’s who nodded the present system through didn’t see it that way…… indeed, I remember some were positively enthusiastic about Pip when I raised the matter at the time. The reputational damage done to the party amongst people I know and work with in the caring professions and charities dealing with the outcome has not gone away.

    I didn’t see any of this mentioned in the Leader’s speech.

  • @ Joe The latest crisis in the system is the plan to use the UC as a passport for benefits such as free school meals. That would mean some claimants losing £11 a week, which would take at least £30 of earnings to recover because of the way the tapering system works.

    Labour is forcing a vote on the change after the spring statement debate today . I’ll be watching to see which way the Lib Dem dozen vote to see whether they “get it” or not.

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