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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Decision making and appeals  →  Thread

DWP ‘offers to settle’ 

Z2KCaseworkvolunteer
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Zacchaeus 2000 Trust (Z2K)

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Kate Osamor MP recently tabled some Parliamentary Questions about people being contacted by the DWP after lodging a Social Security appeal with an ‘offer to settle’, which if accepted, would result in their appeal being lapsed:

https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-03-18/171672
https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-03-18/171673
https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-03-18/171674
https://questions-statements.parliament.uk/written-questions/detail/2021-03-18/171675

Following these questions, guidance of these offers has been placed in the House of Commons library:

https://depositedpapers.parliament.uk/depositedpaper/2283137/files

At Z2K, we know people are rarely informed of their appeal rights when provided with one of these offers (contrary to P.5 of the first document), and peoples’ formal representatives are rarely the people contacted first about these offers (contrary to P.1 of the second document).

Any other feedback on where this guidance isn’t being implemented would be greatly appreciated, as we are keen to push on this further.

Thank you

Mike Hughes
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Senior welfare rights officer - Salford City Council Welfare Rights Service

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All of it really. Appeal rights rarely mentioned and when they are it is incomplete i.e. doesn’t mention no need for a further MR; doesn’t mention you can accept the offer and then appeal further. Also no explanation ever given about the difference between what happens at the end of the award when awarded on offer and when awarded by a tribunal. Creates massive issues further down the line.

I find that they either offer the correct award or the correct award length or neither… but never the correct award and length. Have never yet had that happen. Will be amused if others have. Equally I have never had an offer accepted; gone to further appeal and failed to gain exactly what I thought was missing. I am either a genius or we are in the realms of the obvious and DWP keep missing it. Particular grievance of mine around award lengths where, funnily enough, guidance is also consistently disregarded aside from the line about making the shortest award possible. Exactly how many people who have been blind from birth or who have lifelong or degenerative conditions should get a time limited award? The correct answer would be none. And yet…

Easy to forget also that this really ought to be something addressed at the review point immediately following appeal. Doing it in the week leading up to the tribunal is administratively incompetent; wholly unhelpful and coercive.

From the other side
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Any other feedback on where this guidance isn’t being implemented would be greatly appreciated, as we are keen to push on this further.

Since Christmas I have had 6 cases where I have entered the appeal with myself as representative and the appeal has been lapsed by the DWP. Today was the first time I received contact from the DWP and that was because they could not get hold of the client (he had turned his phone off as they had messaged to say they would be phoning him!) Pleased for this client as after an initial 0 points for DL and mob, SR DL (11 points) after MR he now rightfully has ER DL and SR Mob.

I certainly think that as we are noted as representative then the initial contact should be with ourselves rather than the client. I actually pre-warn clients now regarding the potential for a call from DWP due to the number of cases that we are seeing now being changed upon submission of the appeal.

Mike Hughes
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Senior welfare rights officer - Salford City Council Welfare Rights Service

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Good point. It has become part of the WR armoury to pre-arm appellants with the fact that an offer may happen and what they should do when it does. It’s so routine that I didn’t even think about the fact I do it all the time until then.

From the other side
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Well I’ve just had contact from 2 more clients today, to advise that the DWP have contacted them direct and changed/made PIP award and lapsed the appeal without any contact with me so it certainly shows that DWP are disregarding the best practice memorandum for lapsing appeals!

BC Welfare Rights
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I was going to say that it seems to be working roughly as it should do here, PIP usually contacting me, if not before the claimant at least within a few minutes of ringing them and generally being open to negotiation. However, one yesterday where they rang a woman with suspected autism and learning difficulties who can’t read and write. She asked them to ring me, they didn’t. They have lapsed the appeal this morning and the claimant has no idea what she has been offered.
Edit
An annoying thing with these cases is that when you try to resubmit the appeal online it gets to the end and then says that you can’t submit it as an appeal has already been made against a MR on that date, so you have to fillout the paper appeal (which is a particular pain when you can’t see claimants face to face).

[ Edited: 23 Apr 2021 at 09:27 am by BC Welfare Rights ]
Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Same down here on the Jurassic coast, just had yet another.

As for adherence to the ‘Best practice Memorandum issued to all decision-making staff involved in appeals
lapsing’. As per usual the ‘Don’ts’ were adhered too!!!!!!! Attached the Memo for convenience.

Don’ts
 Don’t allow the customer to believe they are obligated to accept the lapse if it is
not entirely resolving their dispute, they should not feel pressured to accept
under any circumstances.
 Don’t lapse an appeal where there is a formal representative and you haven’t
discussed the lapse decision with them. Even if the customer is happy, their
representative must agree.

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shawn mach
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rightsnet.org.uk

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Request from Advicenow and Public Law Project:

Advicenow and Public Law Project would urgently like to hear from you if any of your clients have been offered an improved PIP award over the telephone (after they have lodged an appeal) since September 2020.

We are particularly keen to know if it was explained to your client that they could still appeal the new award. Please email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) if you have information to share.

We are working to challenge this DWP practice via judicial review.

Elliot Kent
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I do think we ought to be careful about this. Whilst there are obviously examples of very poor practice which is already in breach of the guidance, discussions on this issue never seem to reflect the fact that, in law, a decision cannot be favourably revised without lapsing the appeal. This means that the only options for the DWP are to revise the decision irrespective of the claimant’s wishes or to seek the claimant’s agreement before doing so. Neither is really an entirely satisfactory answer, but asking a claimant before doing something which affects their interests does not seem to be an inherently objectionable way of going about it.

Perhaps a High Court Judge might be persuaded to say that, as a matter of law, if DWP think a decision is wrong they must revise it irrespective of anything else. All this will mean is instead of getting a phonecall asking you whether it is going to be acceptable to revise the decision and lapse the appeal to award you SRM for three years, you will just get a letter in the post telling you that this is what has happened and that if you aren’t happy about it, it’s on you to put in a new appeal and go to the back of the queue. I am not sure that this is really a desirable goal.

I think that what we ought to be pressing for is for legislative change so that under certain circumstances a favourable revision would not lapse the related appeal. That way it would open the door to DWP making partial concessions and putting them into payment without the consequence of ending the appeal and requiring the claimant to start over. It is hard to see what principled objection could be made to that.