The UK Government spent over £120 million fighting appeals by claimants who were denied benefits last year – 70% of which were won by claimants who were actually entitled to the support they claimed.

Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information request reveal that the Ministry of Justice spent £121.5 million on social security and child support tribunals in 2017/18 – an increase of almost 15% on the previous year.

DWP HQ, Caxton House, London. Photo: Paul Billanie for Welfare Weekly.

An overwhelming majority of those denied benefits by the UK government were found to be entitled to that support – prompting calls by the SNP for an immediate change in approach.

There were 51,256 appeal disposals in the quarter up to December 2018 and 41,171 (80 per cent) were cleared at hearing. Of those cases cleared at hearing, 70% were found in favour of the claimant – an increase of 5% on 2016/17.

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Personal Independence Payments (PIP) have driven the overall increase in the overturn rate, rising five and four percentage points respectively on the rates for the October to December 2017 quarter.

Work and Pensions Secretary, Amber Rudd MP. Photo: Chris McAndrew [CC BY 3.0]

Commenting, SNP MSP Bob Doris said: “Something has gone seriously wrong here.

“Choosing to spend £120 million fighting to deny people the support they are entitled to, instead of fixing the problems embedded in the welfare system, really shows where the Tories’ priorities lie.

“These figures are deeply concerning, and expose a system which is systematically hostile towards people who need support the most.

“The grim reality is that the Tories are letting the most vulnerable people in our society down first. Mismanagement such as this is driving more and more people to foodbanks – something which DWP ministers have finally admitted to, but done nothing to fix.

“It’s becoming clearer every day that the Tory government’s current welfare system is simply not fit for purpose.”