Page 11 - Reforming Benefits Decision-Making -(updated - August 2021)
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includes getting decisions right the first time and assisting claimants to challenge
          decisions that they do not think are correctly made:

          Administrative decision making

          Claiming benefits is often a highly stressful situation; the procedures and systems in
          place should seek to alleviate, not aggravate this. Claimants should be listened to
          and understood throughout the process, including through giving proper weight to
          claimants’ own accounts of their health conditions and disabilities and assessment
          by health care professionals with relevant specialist knowledge of claimants’
          conditions.  Assessment reports and decision letters must fully explain what weight
          is being given to each piece of evidence and why it is, or is not, being relied upon.
          We also recommend providing  claimants with additional  opportunities  to explain
          their reasons for noncompliance with their claimant commitment (the conditions to
          receiving Universal Credit and some other benefits). Post-Covid-19 pandemic, we
          also recommend that a  choice of video, telephone  or  face-to-face assessment is

          Clearer structures and rules are required for decision-making to ensure fairness and
          consistency, while  also tailoring decisions  to  individuals’ circumstances. For
          instance, requesting medical information where this is reasonably required to make
          an assessment from healthcare professionals directly rather than expecting claimants
          to source this (with the appropriate claimant consent and data protection in place).
          Protected characteristics must be more carefully considered when setting claimant
          commitments  and applying easements,  for example in the  length  of  interviews,
          through standardised topics and use of specialist advice. We also consider that fewer
          sanctions  should be  imposed  where claimants fail to comply with  commitments
          through the trialling of an early warning system.

          There must be improved and increased training as well as clear policy and guidance
          for decision makers, to ensure that  they understand  their  obligations  and the
          administrative  processes. This includes training  on the  duty  to make reasonable

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