Mandatory reconsiderations and the rule of law

Note: This should now be read alongside my next blog on Muddled language, as it appears that the DWP did not mean what it said in answer to the FOI request.

From time to time I have been invited to help seriously disabled people attain their rights after their applications for appropriate benefits have been turned down by agents appointed by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP). In the old days they would have been able to challenge the lawfulness of the rejection by an immediate appeal to a tribunal. Now, however, they are compelled to submit their application to “mandatory reconsideration” within the Department. This takes up a lot of time, and I have seen many cases in which their application was again inexplicably turned down before they were allowed to appeal, successfully, to a First Tier Tribunal. This earlier blog of mine illustrates some of the problems.  And here is another, although that one ultimately ended up happily, after three years of agonising delays.

New statistics have shown that in 87% of these mandatory reconsiderations the original decision is upheld. Now we have learned, through the response to a Freedom of Information request, that one of the DWP’s Key Performance Indicators – a management device through which the relevant civil servants’ achievements and promotion prospects are measured – is that the decisions in at least 80% of these cases should be upheld in the department’s favour following mandatory reconsideration.

This appears to be an absolutely outrageous interference by the executive with the rule of law.

It is bad enough that applicants are compelled to go through this process, instead of merely having the opportunity to opt for it as a way of trying to avoid the cost and hassle of tribunal proceedings. But it is altogether unspeakable that DWP managers seek to incentivise those who turn these applications down – and what is more, they do not make this policy public.

It would be good if this extraordinary disclosure were to provoke uproar in the highest places.

10 thoughts on “Mandatory reconsiderations and the rule of law

  1. Pingback: Mandatory reconsiderations: (2) Muddled language – Henry Brooke

  2. Pingback: Mandatory reconsiderations and the rule of law | Worldtruth

  3. Pingback: 19 Comments on my blogs on Mandatory Reconsiderations – Henry Brooke

  4. Emma

    Sir Henry Brooke,
    I am certain that the time has come for a petition to draw attention to challenge the rules of law and be certain that the law is upheld. I worked with people with difficulties for many years, and now find myself with what I have finally accepted, can only be a disability. I have found the obstacles former clients of mine faced bring them to their knees with limited resources available to them in the first place. I now find myself in the same situation and place. This brutal, deliberately misleading, labyrinthine system that routinely displays malevolence, distrust and relies heavily upon misdirection and apparently breaks the law needs to be challenged. In your blog, I notice your informed and educated insight, and wonder if you have any suggestions that could enlighten me as to who might be able and interested in assisting me with embarking on such a quest?
    I am struggling, as many others do. I feel the injustice acutely, but have neither knowledge, nor energy. I do wish to be involved in some small way, should that be possible to enable others to live a life. Existence is all I have at present, and despite the extensive posting I have done recently, like so many others, that will end once my internet connection is ceased, which has to happen in order to save money for urgent plumbing work.
    I am in the position of having to choose between communication with the outside, or basic household essential items. Apparently, for those with disabilities, this is it!
    I wish to challenge in the strongest possible way, the policies and practices of the government regarding the human rights of the lesser abled.
    I feel there are so very many important causes in the world, but I have to choose from all there is. I would be grateful to hear from you, and wish you a pleasant evening.
    Emma (not my correct name)

    Like

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