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DWP spent £120 million pounds defending challenges to ESA and PIP decisions in just two years

01 September 2020

The DWP has spent more than £120 million fighting challenges to ESA and PIP decisions in the last two years – despite losing three-quarters of appeal tribunals, says independent.co.uk.

A Freedom of Information Act response reveals that the DWP spent  £61 million on staff costs for the appeal process for the two benefits in 2018/2019, up from £44 million two years before.

Yet over the same period, the number of claims for both benefits –increased by 13% - showing that rise in costs is far greater than the increase in claims.

In addition, the DWP spent £121 million between 2017/2018 and 2018/2019, with £58 million spent on mandatory reconsiderations and £63 million spent on tribunal appeals.

When broken down annually over three years, it shows that the amount spent on mandatory reconsiderations increased by 19% between 2016/2017 and 2018/2019, and the cost of tribunals rose by 64%.

Also highlighted by independent.co.uk is the that while the success rate of ESA and PIP challenges is high, hundreds of thousands of benefit claimants facing delays as DWP staff diverted due to the Coronavirus pandemic.

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

“A decade of austerity driven welfare reform has led to the obscene situation where the DWP is seemingly spending more money defending wrongful disability benefit claim decisions than it is on disabled people’s benefits.

Both ESA and PIP assessments have been strongly criticised by disabled people ever since their introduction – often on the grounds that the health care professionals used no nothing about their disability and that their resulting reports are also inaccurate.

Recent DWP figures show that the success rate for PIP mandatory reconsiderations is 57% and for ESA mandatory reconsiderations more than 80%.

While its welcome that mandatory reconsideration decision making is at last improving, it highlights that the root of the problem remains the poor assessment examinations and reports of the private sector health care providers.

Yet in July, Atos, Capita, and Maximus PIP and WCA assessment contracts were actually increased by up to two years.

Medical assessments for benefits need to be removed from private contractors as soon as possible and brought in house.

But more fundamentally, we need widespread reform of the benefits system so that it is no longer based on conditionality and sanctions but on dignity, inclusion and the social model of disability and that ensures a quality of life that is more than the bare minimum.”

For more information see -

- available from independent.co.uk