Tens of thousands of Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) decisions have been overturned in favour of claimants since October 2013, official Government statistics reveal.
Official statistics quietly snuck out by the Department of Work and Pensions amidst the EU referendum furore, and widely ignored by the mainstream media, reveal that 58,700 original ESA decisions have been revised following mandatory reconsideration.
Of these, 22,700 were because a sick or disabled person had disagreed with which ESA group they had been placed in, while 19,500 ‘Fit For Work’ decisions were also overturned in favour of claimants.
Claimants placed in the Work Related Activity Group of ESA are deemed to have limited ability to work, but may be required to attend work-focused interviews at Jobcentre’s and do other work-related activities. Meanwhile, those in the Support Group are unable to do any sort of work and are not legally required to look for work or prepare for a return to employment, but may do so on a voluntary basis.
Citizens Advice has more information about the two ESA groups on their website, and what to do if you disagree with a decision.
The DWP defines the term ‘Mandatory Reconsideration’ as when a claimant approaches the DWP to dispute a decision on their ESA claim.
In total, 308,400 mandatory reconsideration’s have been raised by ESA claimants since October 2013 and up to April 2016, with the number of disputes over decisions increasing steadily from 9,400 in May 2015 to 13,600 in April 2016.
However, the majority of original decisions by DWP decision makers were not revised, with only 20% being allowed since October 2013. The number of decisions revised in favour of claimants is also decreasing, falling from a high of 45% in November 2013 to just 11% in April 2016.
According to the statistics, the most common reason for raising a Mandatory Reconsideration is when claimants, who the DWP refer to as ‘customers’, dispute a Fit for Work decision, 11% of which are subsequently revised.
4,200 mandatory reconsideration’s were still in progress at the time this data was released, and the statistics in this article do not include decisions overturned at a social security tribunal. Claimants can can ask a tribunal to look at a decision if they’re not satisfied with a mandatory reconsideration decision.