Page 12 - Reforming Benefits Decision-Making -(updated - August 2021)
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adjustments under the Equality Act 2010, and on how and when additional evidence
          should be obtained.

          Greater transparency and accountability is also required as to how the DWP makes
          its decisions and measures its performance. To that end we recommend the end to
          outsourcing of health and disability assessments, that claimants are provided with
          copies of  their  assessment  reports as standard  and  the  audio  recording  of
          assessments unless the claimant declines this. We also recommend an independent
          evaluation of performance measures and the introduction of an independent reviewer
          or regulator,  as well as  the  publication of information on use of  automation.
          Improved data collection  and evaluation  is  also required,  including on claimants’
          protected characteristics, and on the reasons for successful tribunal appeals.

          Routes of Redress

          Challenging incorrectly made decisions is a lengthy, daunting, stressful process and
          difficult to navigate. Claimants face repeated practical barriers and many give up on
          the long fight for their entitlement.

          An accessible redress mechanism which enables claimants to challenge incorrectly
          made  decisions is essential. We  recommend that  the  DWP mandatory
          reconsideration stage is abolished so that claimants can appeal directly to the First-
          tier Tribunal (Social Security and Child  Support)  .  This  will trigger  a mandatory
          review by DWP without  the claimant taking  any further steps. Decision  letters
          should state that appeals can be lodged after the one-month deadline where there is
          good reason. DWP and HMCTS should utilise technology in the appeals process to
          reduce re-keying and delay. To help prevent adjournments we also recommend the
          piloting of  file review  by  tribunal caseworkers  and directing  of  parties to obtain
          missing information ahead of appeals.

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