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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Decision making and appeals  →  Thread

Mandatory reconsideration request refused or ignored

Poll: Have you used the template and sent it as a pre-action letter?
Total Votes: 3
Yes sent as a pre-action letter and resolved issue
2
Yes sent as a pre-action letter but did not resolve issue
0
Used the template to support other work, eg posting on journal or complaint
1
Jess Strode
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Judicial Review Project | Child Poverty Action Group

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CPAG have received reports of increasing numbers of MR requests being ignored or refused by UC case managers and/or work coaches, and of advisers anecdotally using CPAG’s template letter ‘UC failure to process phone/journal/face2face MR request’ (https://cpag.org.uk/welfare-rights/judicial-review/judicial-review-pre-action-letters/mandatory-reconsideration).

How often does this issues come up, and has anyone used the template? What problems has the template been used to address? CPAG want to know!  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Jess Strode - 13 October 2021 04:42 PM

CPAG have received reports of increasing numbers of MR requests being ignored or refused by UC case managers and/or work coaches, and of advisers anecdotally using CPAG’s template letter ‘UC failure to process phone/journal/face2face MR request’ (https://cpag.org.uk/welfare-rights/judicial-review/judicial-review-pre-action-letters/mandatory-reconsideration).

How often does this issues come up, and has anyone used the template? What problems has the template been used to address? CPAG want to know!  .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

The above has been an ever present with UC albeit with peaks and troughs as the years go by.

Must admit keep forgetting about that particular template. So can’t comment.

If there is evidence on the journal i.e. a terse note, we will appeal direct to HMCTS citing the attached case law. One of them was the carers run on and we used the CPAG letter and DWP legal dept response, which was invaluable for the hearing.

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Peter Turville
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Welfare rights worker - Oxford Community Work Agency

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Jess
We are aware of CPAG’s pre-action letters but have not had to used the UC MR template letter so far (have used others). This is because the local ‘escalation’ route via Jobcentre is fairly effective (in about 50% of requests - we either get a fairly prompt response from JCP although that doesn’t then guarantee a response from UC - or no response at all). We are also fortunate to have a very effective case worker at local MP’s office (previously worked here for many years!).

It also appears that even if the MR is ‘picked up’ by a case manager it does not guarantee it is then forwarded to a DM for action. As we understand it CMs and DMs are unlikely to be co-located. This means if the CM has sent the MR to a DM there is no effective way to ‘chase’ progress with the DM.

Which is to illustrate just how ‘hit & miss’ it can be attempting to get UC to deal with an MR. We would suggest that a key issue is that the only way to make an MR is by posting it via the claimant’s journal or by post (which is equally fraught with difficulty - delay, ‘lost’ etc). That means it does not get noted as a ‘priority’ issue by the IT system unlike, for example, notifying a change of circumstances. Pre-pandemic, where possible, we would assist the claimant to make the MR while in our office and then ‘phone UC immediately to ensure the CM passed it to a DM for action there and then.

A simple solution would be for UC to provide a ‘make an MR’ ‘button’ on the UC account to enable them to exercise their statutory right of challenge by bringing it to the immediate attention of the CM & DM.

One could be forgiven for concluding that DWP want to make the process for making an MR as difficult and time consuming as possible .

Daphne
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A simple solution would be for UC to provide a ‘make an MR’ ‘button’ on the UC account to enable them to exercise their statutory right of challenge by bringing it to the immediate attention of the CM & DM.

We have suggested this on numerous occasions! You would think it was relatively simple…

Peter Turville
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Daphne - 14 October 2021 02:45 PM

A simple solution would be for UC to provide a ‘make an MR’ ‘button’ on the UC account to enable them to exercise their statutory right of challenge by bringing it to the immediate attention of the CM & DM.

We have suggested this on numerous occasions! You would think it was relatively simple…

Well, UC is all about simplification ......... isn’t it [banging head against a brick wall emoji]?

Mairi
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I’m another who hasn’t used the template letters but as I’ve reported elsewhere on this site I’ve taken the opportunity of notes on a UC journal refusing an MR request to submit an appeal. 

In the case I’m working on at the moment where I did this the DWP challenged the appeal request on the basis that an MR hadn’t been completed but HMCTS accepted that it had been because of the UC note.  It certainly speeded up the appeal process - the MR was requested early in July and the appeal hearing is in 2 weeks time.  (And actually that’s made me realise that what I think is a ‘speeded up’ process has taken 3 1/2 months which isn’t really quick at all!)

Va1der
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This was discussed at a recent adviser forum here in Edinburgh. The DWP rep present was keen for us to use their escalation routes, which seems to work reasonably well.

I suggested Mairi’s route as an alternative approach - to which DWP responded they would much prefer we use the escalation routes, so they can “monitor the issue, etc”.
But, I wonder if going straight to HMCTS isn’t better - in most cases (assuming the MR would be negative) it resolves the issue faster to the clients’ benefit. Second, repeatedly being forced by the tribunals to effectively skip the MR process seems a better way to highlight to DWP that they need to take some action to improve (rather than continue shooting themselves in the foot).

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/cy/request/764281/response/1826223/attach/3/Response%2047076.pdf?cookie_passthrough=1

The following extract from the FOI may be a pointer as to why…..................................................................etc etc etc

‘However, we can inform you that as of May 2021 we had a total of 5,759 Case Managers
supporting Universal Credit customers nationally, along with 1,053 Decision Makers.
We also had 20,669 Universal Credit only Work Coaches supporting an Intensive Work
Search (IWS) caseload of 2,258,129. The total number of Work Coaches for the same period
(which includes non-UC activities) was 23,786.
For the same period (May 2021), we had a total Universal Credit Caseload 6,010,269
individuals’.