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Employment and Support Allowance Appeals

Volume 587: debated on Tuesday 11 November 2014

8. If he will conduct an evaluation of the effects of the judiciary providing the Department for Work and Pensions and appellants with reasons for their decisions in employment and support allowance appeals. (905992)

As part of the implementation, which commenced in March 2014, we will look carefully at the effects of the provision of summary reasons by judges in the social security and child support tribunal. The Department for Work and Pensions will provide feedback to the judiciary on the way in which summary reasons have been used. The Government have no plans to conduct a formal evaluation.

In the report by the Work and Pensions Committee on employment and support allowance in July last year, we pointed out that there was little point in having summary reasons if they were not used to drive better decisions and, ultimately, to reduce the number of appeals. Surely having a proper evaluation on a clear time scale would be the best way to ensure that that is happening.

As I have said to the hon. Lady on at least two occasions, the provision of summary reasons is having a positive impact. The Department for Work and Pensions is working with the judiciary and the quality of the decisions that it is producing is much better than before, which is leading to fewer cases going to appeal.

20. Will my hon. Friend take this opportunity to review—I understand that the Ministry of Justice was reviewing this matter—the length of time that tribunals are taking to reach decisions on personal independence payments? The amount of time that is being taken is causing great distress for each constituent concerned. I am sure that they would welcome news of a review and evaluation of the length of time that is being taken for appeals. (906004)

Certainly. One of the issues at hand is that we are dealing effectively with the backlog of cases that existed before. As a consequence, the average time that is taken is being reduced. We are dealing expeditiously with new cases and trying to deal with the backlog.