We are changing the appeals process so that more DWP decisions that claimants disagree with can be resolved without being sent to HM Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS).
We want to prevent disputes. But if disputes occur, we want to resolve them as simply as possible and learn from them. From April 2013, we began to introduce changes which were part of the Welfare Reform Act 2012.
What are the changes?
There are 3 changes:
- DWP will reconsider all decisions before an appeal
- appeals must be sent directly to HMCTS
- time limits for DWP to return responses to HMCTS
DWP will reconsider all decisions before an appeal
DWP will reconsider all decisions before an appeal. This means that if someone disputes a decision, they will need to ask DWP to reconsider the decision before they can appeal to HMCTS. This is known as ‘mandatory reconsideration’. The change aims to make sure that people understand the decision and encourage them to provide additional evidence earlier in the process. Resolving disputes without the need for an appeal should also help make sure that people receive the right decision earlier in the process.
Mandatory reconsideration will also include a new telephone call from DWPfor most benefits. For Personal Independence Payment and Employment and Support Allowance, a decision maker already phones the claimant to explain certain decisions. If the decision maker’s attempt to contact the claimant by phone is unsuccessful, and the claimant disagrees with the decision, they will now phone them again to talk it through.
For other benefits, if someone disagrees with a decision, the decision maker will phone them. The new call will be an opportunity for them to talk it through. During the call, they will receive a full explanation of the decision and be asked to provide any additional evidence that may help their case.
Appeals must be sent directly to HMCTS
After DWP has reconsidered a decision, if someone still disputes the decision and wishes to appeal, they must send their appeal directly to HMCTS. This is known as ‘direct lodgement’. It brings the process for social security and child maintenance appeals into line with other major subjects handled byHMCTS.
Time limits for DWP to return responses to HMCTS
DWP has agreed to the request of the Tribunal Procedure Committee to introduce time limits for DWP to return appeal responses to HMCTS. DWPhas agreed to provide an appeal response within 28 calendar days in benefits cases and within 42 calendar days in child maintenance cases.
When will these changes be introduced?
We introduced all 3 changes for Personal Independence Payment and Universal Credit in April 2013. Towards the end of October 2013 we will introduce mandatory reconsideration, direct lodgement and time limits for all other DWP benefits and child maintenance cases. We will begin to report performance against the time limits from October 2014.