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Video hearings to be made available for Social Security and Child Support Tribunals

29 June 2020

 

Justice Minister Chris Philip MP has announced that the arrangements are being made  to make video hearings available across all Social Security and Child Support Tribunal regions.

In answer to a  written parliamentary question on 25 June, the Minister said:

“In line with government guidance, face to face hearings in the First-tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child Support) (SSCS) have been replaced with telephone hearings and the use of other remote hearing technology to facilitate as many hearings as possible being held remotely. All parties to the hearings are being contacted directly to confirm new hearing arrangements.

After a number of successful tests, arrangements are currently being made to introduce and make available Cloud Video Platform (CVP) hearings in all SSCS Tribunal regions.

The decision as to how a hearing is conducted is a matter for the judge who will determine how best to uphold the interests of justice. In considering the suitability of video/audio, judges will consider issues such as the benefit type under appeal, the nature of the matters at stake during the hearing and any issues the use of video/audio technology may present for participants in the hearing.”

DR UK’s welfare Rights and Policy Adviser Ken Butler said:

“It’s understandable that face-to-face appeal hearings are not currently possible due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The news that video hearings are now to be possible for those appealing against social security decisions is very welcome.

But the informed choice as to whether an appeal is heard on paper, by telephone or by video must be that of the disabled person and not overridden by the tribunals service.

Some people who experience severe social anxiety may prefer a telephone hearing.

But for many others, who say have a learning disability or a mental health issue or need the advice and support of a representative, telephone hearings can never be just or fair.

It is wrong for the tribunals service to dictate that in practice PIP video hearings are unavailable.

Most PIP appeals are upheld due to the claimant’s own verbal evidence. It is discriminatory to deny someone the ability to effectively answer questions and present their case.”

The Minister's written answer is available from parliament.uk

For more information see Coronavirus: Government’s failure to offer video PIP appeals ‘is discrimination’ available from disabilitynewsservice.com