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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Decision making and appeals  →  Thread

DWP make challenging a decision a three stage process!

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Peter Turville
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Just when you may have thought this issue had gone away .........

Just tel AA to confirm an MR had been received. Polly from the contact centre was insistent that claimant had to request an explanation before an MR could be considered. When I pointed out there was no such requirement under Reg. 3ZA she stated that that was the procedure and she knew because she had been a decsion maker!

I suspect this was all because she couldn’t be bothered to look on the system to see if the MR had been scanned onto the system by post handling.

benefitsadviser
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Sunderland West Advice Project

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I requested a MR in writing

AA responded by saying “Sunderland west advice have asked for a mandatory reconsideration, however we have been unable to talk to them on the telephone. Here enclosed is my reason for the original decision. If you disagree with this you can ask for a mandatory reconsideration…....”

I thought I had….....

Another one doing the rounds : “We dont have to put this in writing, we are verbally telling you on the phone we arent changing our mind”
Was considering sending an SSCS1 to bradford with a tape of the phone conversation instead of a written MRN….

And my favourite : “No, you cannot verbally ask for a MR. It MUST be in writing or we will not consider it”

BC Welfare Rights
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Another one yesterday, the Pension Service. Insisted I could not ask for a MR before the DM had rung the client to explain the decision, which may take a couple of weeks or more (meaning that the MR request will be out of time). Insisted that the DM will ask the client at the end of the conversation if he is still not happy and if client says no, only then will a MR request be taken. Told this by an otherwise helpful and friendly bloke in the Warrington office.

BC Welfare Rights
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MR request put on UC journal (refusing to apply TP regs and transfer ESA SG status into subsequent UC award). UC reply refusing MR for spurious reasons on journal but do not send a MR notice. We ask again for MR notice in order to appeal. Client gets following message on journal:

“Please call our service line on 0800 3285644 to go through the reconsideration as there is a declaration we need to go through as well [as] the application”

What now for heavens sake?

Jon (CHDCA)
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Billy Durrant - 15 August 2018 04:51 PM

MR request put on UC journal (refusing to apply TP regs and transfer ESA SG status into subsequent UC award). UC reply refusing MR for spurious reasons on journal but do not send a MR notice. We ask again for MR notice in order to appeal. Client gets following message on journal:

“Please call our service line on 0800 3285644 to go through the reconsideration as there is a declaration we need to go through as well [as] the application”

What now for heavens sake?

According to Elliot (post #15 in this thread), they ask you to agree to a declaration that everything you have said is truthful etc. I’m unclear on what happens if you don’t ring them, but I guess that your MR goes no further.

This perhaps ties in with the DWP’s MR form guidance notes, which don’t include journal entries as a method to request an MR, they say you can only do it by phone or on paper.

If so, I fail to see the legal/practical basis for this. It seems like yet another pointless obstruction in the path to appeals. Is the journal a trusted way of communicating with DWP, or isn’t it? If changes of circs can be communicated on the journal without a confirmatory phone call to warn of potential fraud, why can’t MR requests? Why is an MR request sent on paper (perhaps signed by the claimant, but as I understand it UC hold no specimen signature to compare with) of more weight than one entered on the journal?

It’s also at odds with the information DWP has lodged with parliament:

The Mandatory Reconsideration process
A claimant is able to request a Mandatory Reconsideration:
- over the phone
- face to face
- by putting a note in their journal
- in writing

http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2016-0778/Mandatory_Reconsideration_v1.0.pdf

Billy, just FYI, when I have raised the specific issue you were challenging with JCP liaison, I was told that claimants should just sit back and wait, because failure to pay the LCWRA element in these circs is (a) not a matter that can be subject to MR/appeal (“it is an underpayment, but it’s not a decision”); and (b) it is perfectly routine that the support element takes several months to come into payment, due to form MGP1 having to make its way round the houses between various DWP depts (see FOI on that form here.).

BC Welfare Rights
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Thanks Jon.

We asked for a MR of a payment decision. On the UC account payment section it says:

“If you have new information that could affect your payment or think something has been overlooked, you can request a mandatory reconsideration. When we’ve looked at the decision again, we’ll explain our reasons in a mandatory reconsideration notice.
Can I appeal?
If after a mandatory reconsideration, you still disagree with our decision you can appeal it. Your mandatory reconsideration notice includes details on how to do this. “

I can’t really see where your JCP liaison person is coming from here, can you?

There is a complicating factor with a couple of my current cases around moving from Live to Full Service but I’ll post that elsewhere as I don’t thinks it is directly relevant to this thread.

Jon (CHDCA)
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Billy Durrant - 16 August 2018 11:03 AM

I can’t really see where your JCP liaison person is coming from here, can you.

I certainly didn’t at first, and got all huffy and suggested to them that a tribunal would disagree with them. However, someone then pointed out to me that I should check that what they are doing can’t be allowable under the rules on making payments on account while waiting for further info. Which I confess I haven’t yet found anything on (except to say it doesn’t meet the normal rules for a UC short-term advance, as we’re talking about “interim” payments 3 or 4 months after the date of claim).

Jon (CHDCA)
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Ok, the Payment on Account of Benefit regs are at:
http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2013/383/contents/made

In principle, r5 would allow for a payment to be made before the claim has been determined, in order to mitigate financial need. I suspect that the amount of such a payment could not be appealed? However, if they were really making such interim payments, then r8 requires there to be advance notice to the claimant that these are payments on account, and describing how the claimant will be liable to repay it.

So,I don’t see how the SoS could say that the claim hasn’t been determined and these are just payments on account of benefit, when the award notices at the end of each month are the normal UC ones, which simply omit the LCWRA element. It all looks to be in the FTT jurisdiction to me..?

Elliot Kent
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Jon (CHDCA) - 16 August 2018 11:47 AM
Billy Durrant - 16 August 2018 11:03 AM

I can’t really see where your JCP liaison person is coming from here, can you.

I certainly didn’t at first, and got all huffy and suggested to them that a tribunal would disagree with them. However, someone then pointed out to me that I should check that what they are doing can’t be allowable under the rules on making payments on account while waiting for further info. Which I confess I haven’t yet found anything on (except to say it doesn’t meet the normal rules for a UC short-term advance, as we’re talking about “interim” payments 3 or 4 months after the date of claim).

I don’t see what payments on account have to do with anything.

Your client claimed UC. They made an entitlement decision to award it at rate X. Your client is entitled to challenge the decision on “any grounds” (even if those grounds raise an issue which the DM didn’t or couldn’t have anticipated in making the decision). In this case, your client is saying that the entitlement decision was wrong because the correct rate was X + 328.32 as per the transitional rules. That’s an MR - end of story.

 

Dan_Manville
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Apropos of the current convo about explanations and declarations for UC MRs

We have requested a recon over the phone on the strength of an explicit consent statement on a UC journal. DWP make a spurious request that someone who has not got capacity at that moment makes a declaration; they have refused to conduct the MR without that declaration.

At that stage has the SoS “considered” the revision (as per reg 3ZA SS(C&P) regs) such that a right of appeal might arise? I haven’t read the decision on late applications for MR being admitted direct to the FtT if they refuse to accept them but I suspect it might be material and I can see myself in this situation sooner or later.

Philippa D
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Did an MR over the phone today and was told they had to explain the decision letter first. The agent put me on hold so that he could read the decision letter (a copy of which I had in front of me). Once he’d read it, he then “explained” the letter to me (basically read it out) and asked whether I understood the explanation. I told him that I understood it but didn’t agree with the decision. There was a long pause and then I was told they couldn’t do an MR unless I said I didn’t understand it.

What was the point of all that? It just seems like a waste of time unless the entire purpose of it is to trip people up over that question and deny them an MR.

nevip
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Income Max - 16 August 2018 05:18 PM

Did an MR over the phone today and was told they had to explain the decision letter first. The agent put me on hold so that he could read the decision letter (a copy of which I had in front of me). Once he’d read it, he then “explained” the letter to me (basically read it out) and asked whether I understood the explanation. I told him that I understood it but didn’t agree with the decision. There was a long pause and then I was told they couldn’t do an MR unless I said I didn’t understand it.

What was the point of all that? It just seems like a waste of time unless the entire purpose of it is to trip people up over that question and deny them an MR.

That’s about as Kafkaesque as it gets.  That man deserves the apparatchik award of the year.

nevip
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It goes deeper than that Joanna.  Many years ago I had the joyous privilege of ringing the debt recovery unit on behalf of a client to enquire about my request to defer recovery of an overpayment pending the outcome of my late appeal request.  The buffoon I had the pleasure of talking to, after putting me through a series of security questions, notwithstanding the fact that a written form of authority had been sent,  confidently informed me that my appeal was invalid because my letter was not headed “Late Appeal”.  After, going for a metaphorical lie down in a darkened room, and my protestations concerning the law of this, that and the other, his confidence remained undented.

When I asked to speak to his boss, I was promised a call back.  Much to my surprise I got one several minutes later.  It was him again.  Buoyancy undimmed, he then informed me that his boss was now available to talk to me.  But before that could happen I had to answer the same set of security questions he asked me several nanoseconds ago.  By now I was beginning to wish I’d stayed in that darkened room.  Fortunately, his boss took about five seconds to agree that I was right (like I needed that kind of validation) but, more importantly, decided to defer recovery of the overpayment.  It’s enough to make a cat laugh!

[ Edited: 18 Aug 2018 at 04:08 pm by nevip ]
nevip
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You flatter me Joanna.  I like your idea though, you should pitch that to Shawn

shawn mach
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Joanna - 18 August 2018 07:12 PM

Nevip, as the doyenne of this forum, could you create a topic called “Franz Kafka lives”
I find this stuff a balm that sustains me at times of insanity and 75 minutes on hold music.

Something to while away the time perhaps .... from the British Film Institute (1948) -

One moment please … Let me put you through to the Kafkaesque world of civil service telephony, an inescapable labyrinth created more by incompetence than malevolence ....

https://player.bfi.org.uk/free/film/watch-how-to-use-the-telephone-1948-online