Nov 182012

ESA appeals are up by 40% and 425,000 are awaiting ‘assessments’. This coupled with the news that 76% of people going through this horrendus ‘assessment’ are entitled to ESA after appeal figures are computed shows yet again , that the system must be scrapped-its a black hole for tax payers money and something much, much worse for disabled people going through this system. see also the DPAC, Black Triangle, SWU report on survey responses on the WCA.

The appeals figures were provided by Nick at Mylegal who has been doing some fantastic work on the DWP figures to develop the numbers that they dont feed to the newspapers. Once again DPAC is grateful to Nick for letting us repost.


           Are we about to burst the DWP’s

hidden bubble?
424,170 claimants in the
‘assessment phase’
Don’t take my word for it, check it with the DWP using the following link:
DWP statistics February 2012The DWP & Ministry of Justice throughout the pre-enactment stages of both the welfare reform and legal aid, sentencing & punishment of offender’s bill (LASBO) consistently reported that the number of appeals for Employment & Support Allowance was falling; I have to confess I never believed a word of it. Yes it’s true that the numbers of appeals received at the HMCTS Tribunals had fallen from a record high of 197,400 in 2010/2011 to 181,100 but these are only receipts of those which the DWP has dispatched to the Tribunal.They’re not so keen to tell you that now the dust has settled on the welfare and legal aid reforms, the floodgates are once again open with appeals on the rise; this time by a massive 40% according to HMCTS for the first quarters of 2012/2013.

You can refer to an article on Mylegal where I reported on the appeal statistical ‘spin’ by the MOJ at the time. From which you may note no less than 194,200 cases were ‘outstanding’ in 2010/2011 which had reduced to 145,200 by 2011/2012. HMCTS has increased the number of judicial sitting days from 47,900 in 2008/2009 to 88,700 in 2011/2012 to cope with the escalating number of appeals. The accent at HMCTS was on disposing of the cases which had built up rather than dealing with even more new ‘receipts’.

Employment & Support Allowance is the first benefit of its kind to have an ‘assessment phase’. The numbers ‘awaiting assessment’ have been consistently under – quoted by ministers who continually refer to limited data sets relating to far from the overall number of claimants who have been subject to DWP and Atos assessment. On Mylegal a full report into incapacity benefits & Employment & Support Allowance has been prepared which deals with all the complexities of the DWP assessing 1.5 million claimants a year with 740,000 Atos assessments per year. You can refer to the evidence given to Parliament by Permanent Secretary Robert Devereux which backs up these figures.

With thousands upon thousands of assessments being conducted by both the DWP and Atos it’s plainly obvious that there is a danger of the numbers of claimants awaiting assessments getting out of control and that is what I contend has clearly happened here. What’s more we could be looking at more than the 424,170 assessment phase claimants recorded in February 2012. A Parliamentary note which you can access using the link here shows the figure was 401,100 in November 2011 so we know it’s not falling.

The figure could be over half a million; here’s how..

In the course of preparing a batch of appeal cases which I’m working on I picked out six of the six Employment & Support Allowance cases which are coming up for hearing in the near future. Take a look at the time they’ve taken to come up for appeal but also note the important differences between the IB to ESA conversion cases and the new ESA claim cases, note in particular how the commencement of the ‘assessment phase’ is very different in the 4 conversion cases than it is to the 2 new claim cases:

6 real life appeal cases

4 IB to ESA Conversion cases

(1) Mrs O

Sent conversion notice -19/10/2011
Examined by ATOS – 06/03/2012
DWP make conversion decision – 15/03/2012 – placed in to ‘Assessment phase’
HMCTS Tribunal hearing listed for hearing – 21/11/2012
Total waiting time – 13 months +

(2) Mr J

Sent conversion notice – 22/11/2011
Examined by ATOS – 28/03/2012
DWP make conversion decision – 17/04/2012 – placed in to ‘Assessment phase’
HMCTS Tribunal hearing listed for hearing – 26/11/2012
Total waiting time – 12 months +

(3) Mr H

Sent conversion notice – 22/11/2011
Examined by ATOS – 23/03/2012
DWP make conversion decision – 23/04/2012 – placed in to ‘Assessment phase’
HMCTS Tribunal hearing listed for hearing – 28/11/2012
Total waiting time – 12 months +

(4) Mr D

Sent conversion notice – 10/11/2011
Examined by ATOS – 23/02/2012
DWP make conversion decision – 08/03/2012 – placed in to ‘Assessment phase’
HMCTS Tribunal hearing listed for hearing – 26/11/2012
Total waiting time – 12 months +

2 ESA New claim cases

(5) Mrs N

First applied – 11/01/2012 – placed in to ‘Assessment phase’
Examined by ATOS – 11/05/2012
DWP make decision – 26/05/2012
HMCTS Tribunal hearing listed for hearing – 07/12/2012
Total waiting time – 11 months +

(6) Mr W

First applied – 01/09/2011 – placed in to ‘Assessment phase’
Examined by ATOS – 27/04/2012
DWP make decision – 10/05/2012
HMCTS Tribunal hearing listed for hearing – 07/12/2011
Total waiting time – 15 months +

From the above six cases you will see how five cases have been waiting for a whole year before coming up for an appeal hearing – one case taking longer than 15 months! In the conversion cases you will see how in say Mr O’s case he first entered the conversion phase on the 19/10/2011, was then examined by Atos on the 06/03/2012 before a ‘conversion decision’ was eventually made on the 15/03/2012. Thus in his case he has spent almost five months in the conversion phase and only enters his ‘assessment phase’ on the 15th March 2012 with a further wait of over 8 months before his appeal comes up – it’s an absolute outrage that people are being kept waiting so long.

Let’s take a look at how these conversion cases go missing from the mainstream publication of reassessment statistics:

Missing data

Which you won’t find using this
DWP link
Which is surprising because this is the statistical data set which relates to claimants undergoing reassessment from their incapacity benefits over to Employment and Support Allowance. By clicking the link you will see the figure of 424,170 relating to the overall number of assessments live as of February 2012; you will also see how it is broken down:

  • 370,470 claimants who are ‘non incapacity benefit reassessment’And
  • 53,700 ‘incapacity benefit reassessment’ cases.

This completely backs up my point over how thousands of incapacity benefit reassessments are not being tracked in the figures available on the DWP data sets. The 53,700 figure for ‘incapacity benefit reassessments’ only refers to those who have appealed. It will not for instance include any of the 4 conversion cases which I have cited from when the four claimants were sent their conversion notice.

The four claimants which I have cited will not appear as an ‘assessment phase’ statistic until such times as they they get their conversion decision and appeal against it. Thus in Mr O’s case all the time he spends in the conversion phase from the 19/10/2011 to the 15/03/2012 is not counted as assessment despite him being assessed by Atos during what is quite obviously part of the overall assessment process.

The statistical guidance confirms this:

“IB reassessed claims shown on ESA in the Assessment phase are those found fit for work and are under appeal.”

With the DWP proudly proclaiming how it’s assessing incapacity benefit claimants at an incredible rate of 11,000 per week (about 47,000 per calendar month) since March 2011; a figure of 53,700 in the assessment phase just doesn’t stack up especially when you compare it against the 370,470 in the ‘non – incapacity’ groups. There must be literally thousands who are in the conversion phase who are not appearing in the Employment & Support Allowance reassessment statistics. They are not identifiable within the following claimant count but they form part of the incapacity benefits & Severe Disablement Allowance (February 2012) statistics (just click to view):

Thousands of IB to ESA conversions
won’t be found here.
Which is shocking because they should be readily identifiable; they are within the statistics but none of the thousands of incapacity benefits claimants going through the DWP’s conversion phase will be recognisable within the above statistics despite them being subject to the rigours of form ESA filling and thousands of Atos assessments which fill them with absolute fear. They appear merely because the DWP has to track the claimants they pay; they seemingly don’t keep tabs on the true status of their claim within the reassessment programme.

But it gets worse, much worse.

Read more:


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  21 Responses to “ESA Appeals increase by 40% What the newspapers wont print”

  1. Good to find an expert who knows what he’s talknig about!

  2. I am waiting for and apeal date but for the life of me i cant find anyone that can represent me,can someone please help with a suggestion ie an organization or something……..Thanks in advance.

    • Where are you based?

    • I have been given my third date for my appeal.I am 60yrs with a lot of health problems and sometimes find it impossible to get out.I can’t find anyone to represent me.The CAB don’t anymore.I live in Hampton near Twickenham Richmond. HELP!!!

  3. I just received notice today i had not qualified for my benefits, yet the form with each individual points tally makes no sense , as half the statments on the form , i was never asked anything about at the face to face interview . As i suffer from A Typical Narcolepy i have recieved no points for blackouts , which happen up to six times a day ! I show no signs of arthritis , yet i am on on the list for two shoulder replacements , and maybe a knee joint .I can walk more than 200 yards according to the their assessment ….i can walk the dog around the garden without being worn out .I can stand for an hour ???? Yep i could the would narc out for 5… I have had a medical degree 28 years . who the hell is doing these medical’s ??

  4. Hi all,
    I have had fights with the DWP for years, this is now different. There is a new stance from ATOS to refuse all but the most obvious of cases, I won a DLA appeal on a Thursday, went to ATOS the following day with all the relevant paperwork and some that should have given me 42 points and I was deemed fit for work, these decisions are politically influenced.
    All the best.

  5. I went to a atos interview in december and I was asked the usual questions and when it was finished the lady asked me if I had anything to ask them and I said there is no point your going to fail me anyway, Two months went by and I had no reply from them then one day the dreaded letter arrived “you do not have enough points and you are not entitled to ESA” the answer was no surprise it was the 10 weeks it took to inform me. By the way I received 6 points this time not 0 like last time.

  6. I would like to see DWP decision makers punished for getting decisions wrong, these decisions are causing untold heartache and even death, I personally blame the dwp as much as ATOS . I am being taken to tribunal with the DWP saying there is no evidence I have limited capability for work when infact there is no evidence of me not having limited capability for work. These ATOS health professionals are regarded more highly than consultants, I wonder if they get paid more ( we all know the answer to that).

    • People died at the Hillsborough Football stadium disaster – there was an inquiry, Patients died at Stafford Hospital – there was an inquiry, People have died at the decisions of the DWP – No inquiry! Like the NHS the DWP is another highly paid Manager run business where the sick and disabled are no different from those lying in a filthy Stafford Hospital bed. Bring on the DWP inquiry I say.

  7. Although payments are back-dated how much does the government make by delaying hundreds of thousands of payments by up to a year or more? Another hidden subsidy from the poor to the rich.

  8. I am not surprised by the figures given of outstanding appeals. I made one in February 2012 and have never received any mail regarding it. Now I have received this year´s notification of being called in by ATOS and will no doubt be turned down again, and have a second appeal in before the first one is ever dealt with. Atrocious, bumbling, incompetent system.

  9. Could someone confirm this ?.

    I remember reading some years ago that Atos were first started up by the wife of a high ranking Australian Libor politician. I only bring this up as it is strange that it was New Labour that first brought Atos into all this, some connection we don’t know about ?, does that Australian Libor politician and his wife still have somekind of stake in Atos ?, being both sister parties what kind of connection do some in New Labour have with that Australian Libor politician. Of course that high ranking Australian Libor politician may not be in a position of power now ?.


    • how right you are alan….all there dirty secrets and cover-ups…..IN THE END WE WILL WIN…AND AS YOU PUT IT THE PEN IS INDEED MIGHTIER THAN THE SWORD…regards….sandra.

  11. Well done to DPAC for all the great work you are doing exposing this total debacle

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