December 18, 2017
Sarah Newton MP, Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work, has announced that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has dropped its target for 80% of benefit decisions to be upheld at the Mandatory Reconsideration stages.
The target applied to Personal Independence Payments (PIP) and Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and had been scrutinised since a Freedom of Information request earlier this year revealed the internal target.
What does this mean for people with M.E.?
If you have been assessed and want to challenge the DWP’s initial decision, you can request to have a Mandatory Reconsideration where the case is reviewed. The DWP’s internal target has meant that assessment providers have up to now been evaluated based on how many of these reviewed cases are upheld, and how many are overturned.
This raised concerns that those conducting the Mandatory Reconsideration would aim to ensure that this target was met. Many benefit applicants who ask for a Mandatory Reconsideration find that the DWP’s decision is upheld, and that the concerns they raised with the initial decision are not taken into account.
In Action for M.E.’s recent survey, which informed our response to an inquiry on PIP and ESA assessments, 73% of respondents said that they were very displeased with the process, telling us:
While Mandatory Reconsideration decisions have been achieving the 80% target, the experiences such as those above suggested there were wider problems in the assessment process that were not being addressed.
In her letter to the Work and Pensions Committee announcing the change, the Minister for Disabled People, Health and Work stated:
“The 80 per cent figure was an internal measurement used only to indicate areas where the quality of initial decisions may not be meeting our expected high standards, therefore enabling us to investigate and address if required.
“Given the anxiety and confusion the 80 per cent figure has caused we will no longer use it as an internal measure. We will instead assure quality going forwards by focussing more on the individual claimant journey, looking at what we could have done better.”