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Minister denies DWP makes ‘take it or leave it’ decision offers while saying that it does

23 March 2020

The Minister for Disabled People Justin Tomlinson has said that the DWP “does not make offers” to some PIP and ESA claimants who are awaiting appeals.

However, in a contradictory remark he also said decisions are confirmed only “if the claimant agrees” on the telephone.

Responding to a Parliamentary question, the Minister said:

“The Department does not make ‘offers’ to claimants. If at the appeal stage of the decision making process it is decided that a decision can be changed in the claimant’s favour, then in law the Secretary of State has the option to revise the decision and thereby lapse the appeal against that decision. As we always aim to make the right decision as early as possible, then changing the decision to award a higher rate of benefit is the right thing to do. However, we will only do this if the claimant agrees.

The telephone call is made to explain the changed circumstance. But, critically, it also the case that, whilst the appeal against the original decision will stop, a new right of appeal is given against the revised decision. This is explained both by the new decision notice and by the letter sent by the Tribunals Service confirming the appeal has stopped. The process does not disadvantage claimants. And, of course, if the second appeal is successful the additional benefit will be backdated and full arrears paid.”

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

“If the DWP considers that an increased PIP or ESA award is warranted then it should make that decision and inform the claimant in writing while highlighting their right of appeal.

“What is confirming a decision on the telephone “only if the claimant agrees” if not a ‘take it or leave it offer’?

“Disabled people lack trust in the DWP. This pressuring of some disabled people on the telephone only reinforces and adds to that lack of trust.

The DWP needs to show it will quickly end this problem and make public how expects its Decision Makers to behave."

Note: DR UK has written to the DWP to recommend that:

  • Guidance is issued to decision makers on how telephone contact with claimants regarding a mandatory reconsideration request should be conducted.
  • Any new ‘positive’ decision should only be given in writing with the claimant’s right to appeal further to an independent tribunal being made clear.
  • Any new guidance be published and be made publicly available on the gov.uk website.

 

The Minister's answer is available at parliament.uk.

 

For more detailed information on this issue see the CPAG article An offer you can’t refuse?