Katy Clark MP has slammed the UK Coalition Government for making changes to the benefits appeals process that have caused crucial decisions to be delayed, leading to a growing backlog of cases.
In October 2013
the Westminster Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) introduced a
requirement for ‘mandatory reconsideration’ of decisions to impose
sanctions on benefits’ claimants. The result has been that, before a
claimant can submit a formal appeal against a decision to stop their
sole source of income, the person must first request that
‘reconsideration’ is given to the decision. Previously, a claimant
could submit an appeal against a benefit sanction and could expect a
decision within a matter of days. However, since the UK Government
introduced ‘mandatory reconsideration’ before an appeal can be made, the
process has been lengthened, meaning some people are left without any
money for months.
Ms Clark said she is currently dealing with a
number of cases where constituents have been adversely affected by the
DWP’s changes to the system. The North Ayrshire Citizens Advice Service
(NACAS) has also contacted the local MP regarding the plight of clients
with similar experiences.
Katy Clark said, “I am appalled that
the DWP have made changes to the appeals process, which rather than
deliver quick decisions has created greater delays.
constituents have approached me, including some who have been left with
no money for months on end. This can’t be allowed to continue.”
Smith from NACAS added, “From the numbers of clients we are seeing in
our bureaux throughout North Ayrshire, the introduction and
implementation of ‘mandatory reconsideration’ is causing widespread
frustration and hardship.
“Since the introduction of ‘mandatory
reconsideration’, NACAS has helped with over 200 request applications,
of which less than 20-percent have received decisions from the
Department for Work and Pensions.”
Ms Smith highlighted a number
of clients with long-term health conditions had been forced to “engage
with the Jobcentre to ensure some payment until a decision on their
benefit position has been reached.”
Labour MP Katy Clark has
written to the DWP about the problems caused by the introduction of
‘mandatory reconsideration’ of benefits sanctions.