Govt proposing benefit appeal charges

Fri,21 February 2014

An internal DWP document, leaked to the Guardian, proposes charging claimants fees for appealing against social security decisions.

Fees were introduced last year for employment tribunals. This caused a drop in the number of claims and prompted the union Unison to ask for the fee policy to be reviewed. High court judges declaredit to be lawful this month.

The effect of charging fees for social security appeals could be catastrophic as it would affect some of the poorest members of society.

The DWP has often been criticised for its poor decision making, as evidenced by the high success rate of appeals (58%). To deny people the right to appeal because they have no money raises important human rights considerations about whether they have a right to a fair trial.

Apart from discouraging appeals, the proposed measure would generate no fee income for the DWP as these are paid to the justice department.

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