Mar 262013

Benefit appeals are on the rise….

Sickness benefit appeals up by 70%….

‘Chaos is looming’

Latest statistics from Her Majesty’s Courts & Tribunals Service (HMCTS) reveal that the DWP’s increasingly controversial Employment & Support Allowance is leading to a massive surge in the numbers of appeals lodged with independent Tribunals.  The Ministry of Justice figures can be read here and confirm that for the period July to September 2012 the number of appeals was up by 69% on the same quarter on the previous year.  Benefit appeals are now accounting for 58% of all cases received for appeals across all Tribunals – an alarming increase.

The Ministry of Justice figures exhibits all the signs of impending chaos with a staggering 813,500 tribunal cases in total; an increase on the previous year when the number had already exceeded three quarters of a million appeal cases.

The number of Employment & Support Allowance appeal receipts is of particular concern, in the year 2011/2012 a total of 181,000 appeals were received by the Tribunals. In the first six months of 2012/2013 the figure has shot up to 133,700 indicating that these appeals alone are well on track to exceed a quarter of a million by year end.

42% of DWP decisions in ESA cases are wrong!

By comparison with the second quarter of 2009/2010 when Employment & Support Allowance (ESA) appeal receipts stood at 29,000 – the same quarter in 2012/2013 has zoomed up to 73,700 – an increase of 44,700.  Of the 53,200 ESA cases cleared at an appeal hearing 22,500 (42%) were found in favour of the claimant.  These figures highlight ongoing problems with the standards of decision – making following Atos ‘Work Capability Assessments’ – the DWP is still making an unacceptably large number of incorrect decisions.  

Total number of benefit appeals now on track to exceed 600,000 by the end of the year!

The total number of benefit appeal cases for 2012/2013 has already reached a wholly unacceptable figure of 308,200 meaning that if the trend continues, and there is every sign it will, the total number of benefit appeals alone will have reached well over 600,000 by the end of the year.

Cases outstanding (all) – 813,800  – chaos!

The total number of benefit appeal case ‘outstanding’ in 2008/2009 was 53,200 in the second quarter and has now more than trebled to 158,700 in the second quarter of 2012/2013.  A comparison with the figures for 2007/2008 when the figure stood at 347,100 shows the numbers have increased to a colossal 813,800 in 2012/2013. the number of employment tribunal cases outstanding as of the second quarter stands at 570,200, benefit cases stand at 158,700 in 2012/2013 and immigration & asylum cases at 41,000 – this is absolute chaos!

Exceeding the warnings given by the judiciary….

In a report issued in February 2012 provided by the Tribunal president  the judiciary gave the following breakdown of benefit appeal cases in the first – tier Tribunal and made the following predictions for increases in the appeal load:

Annual Intake of SSCS Appeals

2008-09 – 242,800

2009-10 – 339,200

2010-11 – 418,500


2011-12 – 421,609

2012-13 – 483,400

2013-14 – 576,700

2014-15 – 644,000

These latest figures show we are well on track to break past the 483,400 forecast for 2012/2013 and exceed the figure given for 2013/2014.  

The full effect of welfare reform changes has yet to hit the fan, the bedroom tax, more ESA cases, JSA sanctions (standing at 700,000), Disability Living Allowance giving way to Personal Independence Payments are all in the line up and will undoubtedly lead to the Tribunal president’s forecast being considerably exceeded.

Government and the DWP has to stop pretending that there is not a perfect storm brewing here, mandatory revision before appeal is only keeping the dispute out of the public’s attention in a pretence that the people who create the problems will somehow fix it.  The DWP is assessing twice as many ESA claimants as it needs to just to claim double its dubious ‘results’.  In reality the vast majority of those who flow off ESA and incapacity benefits are flowing straight back on to them shortly afterwards – government has no other credible explanation as to why after assessing over 2.8 million claimants between 2008 and 2012 the claimant count has barely reduced by little more than 70,000 – it’s derisory and half that achieved by way of reductions under the older incapacity benefits regime.  

The fact is that we were seeing much better reductions under the older incapacity benefits.  Government is using severely disabled claimants to manipulate its figures by its recycling of what can only be the same claimants.  It stands to reason that if vast numbers were really being ‘found fit for work’ the Jobseeker’s Allowance claimant count would have rocketed up to an embarrassingly high level which this government simply cannot afford to show.  

After coming off ESA claimants are being re-directed back on to it by Jobcentres who can clearly see these claimants are no where near ready for the labour markets.

Government’s mismanagement of the ESA reassessment programme:

There’s any number of statistical charts on here which you can muse over all day long.  

In doing so just apply the logic:

(1) We start with 2.6 million on the sick in 2008

(2) Various claims are made by the DWP/media of 75%, 50% and more recently 33% being found ‘fit for work’ 

(3) In 2012 we have 488,000 claimants waiting to be assessed

(4) In 2012 we have a Jobseeker’s Allowance queue that’s hardly grown

(5) By 2012 – 2.7 million have been subjected to Work Capability Assessments

(6) By 2012 – 3.8 million is the total number ‘case loaded’ through ESA

(7) By 2012 we are on track to break all previous appeal records with more hidden from view at the DWP

(8) In 2012 there are twice as many claiming on the sick as there were in 2006 

(9) By 2012 the claimant count for those on the sick has trickled down by a mere 70K, still leaving us with…. 

                              Around 2.6 million ‘on the sick’? 

(10) This wretched scheme is rapidly emerging as an absolute farce which is being used as a vehicle to keep the long term sick numbers down; thus keeping them from the long term ‘economically inactive’ count used by the ONS to work out the numbers said to unemployed. 

They have engineered themselves a clever way of marshalling the unemployment figure to one which is more ‘commensurate’ with the chancellor’s increasingly doubtful claims that we are ‘on the way’ to economic growth.  

With everlasting thanks to the brilliant Nick-

Twitter: @Mylegalforum

See more from Nick at and below
See ESA Customer’s journey to nowhere

See the ‘journey in to work’

See a discrepancy uncovered

See unemployment is ‘falling’

See turning back the long term incapacity clock to zero


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  21 Responses to “More Chaos: ESA appeals up by 70%”

  1. i was first failed in 2011 ,i got zero point i was in wrag group ,i found a little job ,but a fall and breaking a wrist and a bone scan revealed osteoperosis in my hip and spine ,in constant pain cant bend or lift anything for long periods i have to sit stand all day ,i waited a year to be found unfit for work by the judge ,,for a year i was on maintainance rate then had to wait weeks for my back pay ,it was then 10 months later i was back at atos last april 13 ,i got zero points again ,they used the fact i had 4 cats as i was fit for work ,i appealled and now its nearly a year since i put in my appeal.during this time my wieght has plummited ,my bi polar has hgot worse i cannot eat properly as after bills and maintainance on my own property ,at no housing cost to the tax payer leaves me with less than 20 pounds for food ,i was refered to foodbank by my doctor as i in danger of bieng malnourished ,for somone with mental health nd bone issues a good diet is essential.i feel like they are tryyng to kill me off ,ive worked hard brought up my kids alone and bought my house oputright ,now im 54 with bone disease im nothing usless and hungry 24/7 .my boilers broken so im cold aswell and have no hot water ,i feel like ending it all some days as i cannot cope with the debts i have when my money was stopped last summer for 6 weeks ,i sold all my little gold bits to survive .i have nothig left to sell and im feeling weak ,the appeal was 40 miles away 2x buses at an hour each jourmney ,i told the court i can not do this or i will be ill ,they never offered me a cab ,asked for medical from doctor and 4 months latter im still waiting .i dont know how long i can do this ,maybe they want me to sell and then rent and when money runs out be at the mercy of hoiusing benefit ,feeling really low today x

  2. hi all ive been on esa now for 4 years first time I failrd a medical appealed and one with 21 points and put into work related groupsecond time was put into support group after medical third time was put back into work related group after medical was going to appeal again and asked disability advise project to represent me said yes but on advise from them was told to cancel appeal because they couldtake away some of my benefits and now I have been called in to attend work programme im so confused and unwell I have pysatic arthritis and liver problebs and spealist cant keep me on any one drug because its affecting my liver and they have to treat my liver first I have all medical evedance and aletter saying im un able to work because of illness I cant put my foot to the floor and cant move my hand and wrists because of swelling I also have injections every couple of months im also on high mobility indefinite and low care indefinite but unsre what to do now any help would apprehated. thank you Leanne.

  3. If I lose my tribunal When can I reclaim Am I right to say I can after 26 weeks Or is this changing

    • It’s 26 weeks from the date of the ESA decision. This should be printed on the cover of your tribunal bundle/papers. You can reapply if 26 weeks have elapsed since the ESA decision.

  4. forgot to say l have axiety and depression as well worked forall my life upon till l became ill

  5. on sick since 2004,ongoing conditions multipul osteoarthritis in both shoulders cronic hip and back pain diabetic 2 neuropathy
    and difficult control of blood sugars blood pressure thyroid meniers vertigo ,l walk like im drunk sensory probs with walking need care on washing dressing and going to the toilet plus axiety depression,o points on esa medical , supported letter reg 29 ,consistant with my account of difficulties,lost appeal thought judge had made her mind up before hand,she told me l could claim esa again after her judgement also commented dwp was not there but she could see where they where coming from,l told her after her 10 mins making up her mind that she was wrong and had she read gps letter she said oh well ive made my decision,l can re claim but im terrified of new med as hubby gets carers he could claim for us but as l have dla im worried they will pull it out now as indefinite award,how sick is this country,judges are all for dwp regardless of your disability

    • From my own experience Anne I found I had to have the exceptional circumstances regulations 29 and 35 in front of me when filling in ESA50. I made sure that I mentioned I could not do X activity repeatedly, reliably or safely. I also made it clear there was a significant risk to my health if I were found capable of work and gave examples. When you mention a health condition emphasise the negative effect it has on any and all the descriptors that apply. For example “I am not able to reach and lift down something repeatedly, reliably and safely due to the significant pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis in the shoulders and I cannot balance safely while doing this because of the effects of Meniere’s and diabetic neuropathy.” You could use the ‘other information’ pages to explain how osteoarthritis varies/flutuates, the effects of Meniere’s and diabetic neuropathy on your activities- particularly balance while walking and standing- and refer to any mention of these problems and issues of safety in your evidence such as the GP letter or a specialist’s letter. ESA50 is the key- give them as many examples as possible of activities you cannot do- and when explaining at your conditions emphasise the Meniere’s and diabetic neuropathy as these are incurable and harder to treat

      Kitty Jones’ blog is very useful and I got most of my information about exceptional circumstances regulations for my new (and successful) claim from her. I would go ahead with a new claim if I were you.

  6. I had a medical assessment which was sent by post, the only letter I recieved was an appeal for reason why H did not attend this assessment? Which was filled and posted back the same day I had recieved it.
    A month later I get a P45 in the post which immediately rung alarm bells, thinking they had cancelled my ESA claim.
    I rung up the jobcentre helpline to be told they had stopped my claim due to not receiving any correspondence regarding my failed assessment.
    They told me to write a letter with those reasons and have it faxed across in the jobcentre, which was done the same day.
    I rung up the following day to see if it had been acknowledged, they informed me 4-5 days before the letter would be acknowledged,
    I call back to find they had recieved my letter but the decision maker would take another 4-5 days to read it!

    Please out me through to your regarded decision maker, I will read my appeal letter to him and ask for an immediate decision there and then?

    I’m not psychic if I have an appointment I will attend it, but not having recieved a letter I do not know when the assessment is booked for

  7. I have been on JSA for 4 months having been on inapacity benefit for six years following a nervous breakdown. Since then I have began to feel very ill again and have remained having to take my medication and struggling to cope. The disability advisor cut my search to work down to looking for a 25 hrs a week job, and now I have been reffered to the intraining work programme. They gave me so much information and appts at my first interview and I accidentally missed an appt due to my confusion from all the pressure. I explained this in a letter to DHSS but they have stopped my JSA payments for a month.I’m booked in to see my doctor who will probably sign me back onto sick. I would appreciate anyones advice as too where I go from here. I have no money at all to live on and can hardly afford to eat as it is.Thank you

    • We are all in the same boat. I was withheld payments for over 2 months while they reconsidered. I sent a five page explaination of my illnesses and a letter from my doctor which was badly written and very brief unfortunately and not much help so they claimed there was insufficient evidence. I now have to try and get another doctors letter before the tribunal. It seems DWP decision makers will just assume you are lying, and ATOS people clearly don’t have a clue how to assess many chronic illnesses. They assume if you can make it to an 45 min long appointment once a year that means you can work.
      After being chronically ill for 20 years and put in the support group last time I was given 0 points this time and unbelieveably told I was fit for work. The HCPs report was laughable. The DWP staff seem largely incompetant also. I only hope the tribunal has some sense. Despite this I have no trouble getting sick notes for 3 months at a time and now have to live on £71 a week for who knows how long which is very difficult in my condition

  8. when i had my appeal when they were changing the benefits to esa instead of incapacity they had no reason to throw out my claim so they decided to use the fact i didn’t know why a fire didn’t react the way it should have?! i’m not a scientist and don’t know much about fire or how it acts but apparently we should know all of this to get benefits!

  9. If you appeal against being placed in the work activities group of ESA you will be told at the tribunal that if you
    do not withdraw your appeal you will lose ESA and be forced to become a jobseeker.This is what happened to
    me after travelling 42 miles in total by taxi to tribunal centre.The two tribunal judges had made up their minds
    before my appeal had started.You have no right of appeal if threats like this are happening.I’m sure I am not the only incapacity benefit claimant(changed to ESA) that this has happened to.Those with chronic illness that the NHS does not understand are being labelled as the not genuinely ill and are being forced off benefits The
    BMA should be ashamed of themselves for allowing this.

  10. Note that is 42% of decisions THAT ARE APPEALED that are wrong, not 42% of ALL decisions. Nevertheless this still distils down to over 1 in 10 which for any other comparable “test” would simply not be acceptable.

  11. Any savings made by this barbaric process will be far out weighed by the cost of tribunals!

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