Page 10 - Reforming Benefits Decision-Making -(updated - August 2021)
P. 10


          Being denied benefits can have  a devastating  impact on individuals’ and their
          families’ lives. It can plunge people into debt, result in eviction and exacerbate or
          create health issues. The economic fall-out from Covid-19 has only increased these
          risks. It is therefore vital that there is a fair benefits system that is accessible and
          makes  timely and  accurate  decisions,  and  for  there to  be an  effective  means  of
          reviewing decisions once made.

          This Report follows a number of previous reports raising concerns with the benefits
          system and putting forward proposals and recommendations for change. However,
          despite these prior efforts, it is clear that there remain ongoing issues with benefits
          decision making and barriers to effectively challenging those decisions when they
          have been wrongly made. This joint JUSTICE and Administrative Justice Council
          Working Party has focused on improving the administrative and procedural elements
          of  the benefits system,  from  initial  decision  making,  through  to  appeals,  with  a
          primary focus on the central government administered working age benefits.

          The findings of this Report demonstrate that the benefits system is not working as
          well as it should, in particular  for  those with health conditions  and disabilities,
          especially mental health conditions and fluctuating conditions. Many claimants are
          incorrectly denied the benefits that they are entitled to, demonstrated by the high
          success rates of appeals. This is due to a lack of knowledge regarding entitlements,
          decision making processes that are confusing, inaccessible and time-consuming, and
          barriers and inefficiencies caused by inflexible digital systems. DWP has recognised
          during  our  consultations for this report  that individual  errors  ought not to have
          happened. But systemic, repeated errors continue to cause unnecessary hardship to
          many people in need of support.

          The Report makes 44 recommendations that seek to ensure welfare support is made
          available to those that need it as quickly, accurately and effectively as possible. This

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