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Unable to participate in hearing

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lancashire county council

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We were contacted by a customer who is dealing with an IS overpayment on behalf of their father. The overpayment dates back a few years and an appeal hearing date was received.  At the hearing the customer explained that their father’s health had deteriorated and that he was unable to participate in the hearing due to severe mental health issues. The customer explained that they have been dealing with the appeal on their father’s behalf and would be able to answer any questions.  The customer had provided authority from their father to the TS. The Tribunal adjourned and directed the customer to apply to become an appointee so that they could speak on their father’s behalf. 

The issue under appeal is deprivation of capital and due to the complexity of the case a paper hearing would not be appropriate.

The customer states they have spoken to the DWP and were advised that they could not become an appointee for an historic claim and appointeeship was refused.

The customer states that their father’s MH issues are unlikely to improve in the near future but they do not wish to apply for a POA. 

I have advised to provide proof of their father’s health issues and submit another formal appointee request.  I have also contacted our escalation contact for further comments.

I was wondering if anyone has any other advice?

Elliot Kent
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I don’t see why a person can’t be made an appointee in these circumstances, but I am not convinced that appointeeship is the only way to deal with this..

I think it was probably unsurprising that the tribunal refused to deal with the appeal if it was on the basis that the son had just turned up and said he was able to act on his father’s behalf - however the father is entitled to appoint a rule 11 representative for the purposes of the appeal and if written notification is given of that person’s details in advance, that person is entitled to deal with the appeal insofar as making case management decisions etc. This ought to be sufficient to allow the Tribunal to proceed in an orderly way.

There is still fundamentally going to be the problem that the father is going to be unable to provide primary evidence of what went on, and the Tribunal is only going to be able to speak to the son second hand, but that is not a problem which is going to be overcome by having the son wear an ‘appointee’ hat.

Helen Rogers
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Welfare rights officer - Stockport MBC

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I also question whether the son needs to become an appointee for the purposes of the tribunal.
But more importantly, I don’t see why the DWP have refused.  An appointee is an appointee for all DWP benefits.  Surely the father is in receipt of something - State Pension?  AA?
Aside from the tribunal, it could be useful for him to have an appointee in place for his benefits anyway?
On a practical level, I’ve always found disability benefits to be more amenable to creating appointees.
Maybe try approaching them (if the father is on receipt of one) instead of the benefit that has been overpaid.