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Social Security Tribunal Decisions

Volume 565: debated on Monday 1 July 2013

15. What progress his Department has made on improving feedback from social security tribunal decisions. (162104)

From 10 June, judges in four social security and child support tribunals are providing the Department for Work and Pensions with more in-depth information on why they overturn employment and support allowance decisions. That builds on the drop-down list of primary reasons for overturning decisions that was introduced last July.

I congratulate the Minister on the work that she has done with Her Majesty’s Courts and Tribunals Service to secure this new approach. Does she agree that the information from the tribunals will allow the Department greatly to improve its decision-making process?

My hon. Friend is correct, and that information is key, because decisions are overturned for many reasons. Most of the time, it is because new information comes into play at the appeal. We need to find out why decisions are overturned, not just for the claimant but for the DWP and everybody involved.

Is not the truth of the matter that in the vast majority of cases where a decision was overturned, it was because the wrong decision was made in the first place? Would it not make far more sense to make the right decision in the first place, so we did not have to waste time, money and energy on pursuing the matter all over again?

I do not believe that the hon. Gentleman was listening to what I said. Actually, the majority of overturns are the result of new information being supplied on appeal. To ensure that we get this right first time, there will be mandatory reconsiderations, just like under universal credit and the personal independence payment. That will also be the case for employment and support allowance from the end of October. That will provide a proper administrative route, rather than a judicial one involving extra costs, extra pain and extra stress. We are getting this right, which is something the previous Government never did.