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Employment and Support Allowance Appeals

Volume 553: debated on Tuesday 13 November 2012

10. What progress he has made in encouraging tribunal judges to supply feedback to Department for Work and Pensions decision-makers on the reasons for successful employment and support allowance appeals. (127920)

The provision of feedback on tribunals’ decisions is a matter for the judiciary, but new arrangements were introduced in July. They were agreed by the chamber president and the Department for Work and Pensions, and allow judges to select reasons for their decisions from an agreed list.

At the weekend, I spoke to a constituent who was making her second appeal in a year. She was told that there would not be a decision for four months, although the number of tribunal members appointed in Scotland has doubled in the last year. Does her experience not illustrate the huge importance of ensuring that proper reasons for decisions are given to DWP decision-makers, so that the decisions are right in the first place? That would be better than the provision of a drop-down menu or a very limited selection of reasons.

Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service is working closely with the DWP to improve the quality of the original decisions and also the reconsideration process, so that only appropriate appeals reach the tribunal. As for waiting times, dealing with matters in a timely fashion is of course very important. I am pleased to announce that the waiting time between the receipt of an appeal to disposal has fallen from 22 weeks to 19.3 weeks, and that in Scotland it is down to 12.6 weeks.