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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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WRT Case Worker
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Joanna - 17 August 2018 10:50 PM

I think once again this demonstrates the appallingly poor quality of training, knowledge or experience of call handlers, even at such relatively high level as dealing with MRs.

That’s the general consensus here among Rotherham advisers. But of course, it all depends on what DWP staff are trained to do!

[ Edited: 3 Sep 2019 at 08:47 am by WRT Case Worker ]
KMJones
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I’m posting this all over similar threads in an effort to collate a decent evidence base, do contribute if you can:

I want to hear about any and all cases of MR gatekeeping - this is a particular focus for me this month, so please inundate me!

If you’ve got any cases where claimants were unaware they could challenge decisions, or were delayed or prevented from doing so - please let me know.  The more example cases we have, the greater our impact so don’t be afraid to submit numerous cases with similar stories (or as many as time allows).

You can submit anonymous case details in our online form: http://www.cpag.org.uk/early-warning-system or email me .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

IanP
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At a recent TUG meeting, a person from DWP was providing an update on UC and stated that DWP are trying to “improve the customer journey” so that from now on WCA decisions for UC claimants will be “simplified”, and not include a copy of the WCA report or details of the decision “to make it easier to understand”.  Apparently claimants are confused by such frippery.  So from now on, claimants receiving a WCA decision will have to request a copy of the assessment and a written explanation for the decision before requesting MR. Not only this, but all MRs and appeal responses will be prepared by a new dedicated team….of complete novices.

Expect long delays and low standards…and a three stage appeal process.

Jeremy Barker
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We have just seen someone who had an unsuccessful WCA and asked for reconsideration. There was a document attached to their UC journal headed “Mandatory Consideration Universal Credit” which went on to say the decision was unchanged and the usual statement of reasons that would be in a MRN but no recognisable MRN or the stuff in the MRN about the right to appeal. As that appeared in their UC journal almost a month ago with nothing further we have done an SSCS1 and attached this document to it. Who knows what is supposed to happen.

Peter Turville
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IanP - 09 November 2018 02:10 PM

At a recent TUG meeting, a person from DWP was providing an update on UC and stated that DWP are trying to “improve the customer journey” so that from now on WCA decisions for UC claimants will be “simplified”, and not include a copy of the WCA report or details of the decision “to make it easier to understand”.  Apparently claimants are confused by such frippery.  So from now on, claimants receiving a WCA decision will have to request a copy of the assessment and a written explanation for the decision before requesting MR. Not only this, but all MRs and appeal responses will be prepared by a new dedicated team….of complete novices.

Expect long delays and low standards…and a three stage appeal process.

Hi Ian!

In all the recent UC WCA decisions (or appeal submissions) we have seen there is no reference to the descriptors awarded. In order to prepare an MR / appeal a claimant / adviser has to guess which Activities / descriptors and/or ‘exceptional circumstances’ might have been applied or are still in issue. DWP dont even set out the descriptors awarded in submissions - you have to go through the UC85 and work them out for yourself!

Words fail ........

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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I posted this on another wotsit, but this actually is worth posting twice, in particular the last entry e.g. ‘I cannot provide the exact wording of this process as this comes from a document classified as Official-Sensitive’.

From Jake at the Ballymena Service Centre in response to the following…..............

Either the MR made on journal today - challenging a decision finding client did not having LCW or the other MR challenging an open ended sanction decision against a failure to respond to a phone Work search interview/WFI?

‘You and a CAB rep spoke to my colleague earlier. Unfortunately this call did not cover all the elements we needed to discuss. You are within your rights to request MR and I will be happy to do this for you, however as previously stated the process must be completed over the phone.

Your backdating MR was raised via the journal as an exceptional last resort. We have tried calling you today but your phone does not connect. Call us on 0800 328 5644 to enable us to process your MR request’.

Jake from the Ballymena Service centre then added after we sent a link to the DWP guidance http://data.parliament.uk/DepositedPapers/Files/DEP2018-0759/Mandatory_Reconsideration_v3.0.pdf

‘Yes, and we have accepted the request. I was very clear about that. However accepting a request and actually processing it are two very different things. I have tried calling again, however still the call does not connect. To move this ahead Mr X, you will need to call us, or be available to take a call from us’.

Jake was asked why a phone call is necessary

‘Hi,

‘The document which provides the instructions for the Universal Credit mandatory reconsideration process requires a telephone call to have a recording of the decision being explained to the claimant, along with a declaration being read out for the claimant to consent to.

I cannot provide the exact wording of this process as this comes from a document classified as Official-Sensitive’.

Regards,
Jake

Peter Turville
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And when you then asked Jake where it states in UC etc. (DA) Regs 5 & 7 that an application for MR must be received by phone and/or can only be accepted as received at an appropriate office following the making of a recording of the claimant being provided with an explanation for the decision by phone (or some similar nonsense)- what response did you get?

Given that the doc says:

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

? = cut and paste did not like the bullet points

Maybe a ‘notice before action’ would help the incoming SSWP to focus on complying with the legislation?

[ Edited: 15 Nov 2018 at 02:03 pm by Peter Turville ]
Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Peter Turville - 15 November 2018 01:59 PM

And when you then asked Jake where it states in UC etc. (DA) Regs 5 & 7 that an application for MR must be received by phone and/or can only be accepted as received at an appropriate office following the making of a recording of the claimant being provided with an explanation for the decision by phone (or some similar nonsense)- what response did you get?

Given that the doc says:

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

? = cut and paste did not like the bullet points

Maybe a ‘notice before action’ would help the incoming SSWP to focus on complying with the legislation?

This is a ongoing case (other issues), so in the process of updating MP with copy of expanded 33 page journal, will ask him to take up with the Caxton House occupants. We have shared with CPAG EWS and lodged an FOI on legal basis and a copy of the guidance, oh and here on Rightsnet.

We did advise actually on the journal that there was no legal basis and regs 5 & 7 etc etc. Whether there has been a response, we don’t know client has gone home.

Regarding a ‘notice before action’, have to confess PLP did crop up in my mind, although have not advised client to that effect at this stage. I’m off for 2 weeks after today, i’ll see what i come back to on this. But yeah might have to advise resorting to this.

On a grander ideation theme, my preference is for a whole scale acceptance by Caxton House drizzled down or cascaded to stop this nationwide folly!


Peter Turville
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Andy - you probably don’t need assistance from PLP - just send a letter to:

Secretary of State Dept. of Work & Pensions
Litigation Team (B6)
The Treasury Solicitor
One Kemble Street
London
WC2B 4TS

headed ‘notice before action’, set out the facts and action taken to date and the action you now expect the SSWP to take (confirm that the SSWP will now consider the MR application and issue a MRN) within a time limit (14 or 21 days would be reasonable). This will usually prompt DWP to act, you should get an acknowledgement from solicitors office and you will then be contacted by complaints team who will ensure the required action is taken - simples!

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Peter Turville - 15 November 2018 03:23 PM

Andy - you probably don’t need assistance from PLP - just send a letter to:

Secretary of State Dept. of Work & Pensions
Litigation Team (B6)
The Treasury Solicitor
One Kemble Street
London
WC2B 4TS

headed ‘notice before action’, set out the facts and action taken to date and the action you now expect the SSWP to take (confirm that the SSWP will now consider the MR application and issue a MRN) within a time limit (14 or 21 days would be reasonable). This will usually prompt DWP to act, you should get an acknowledgement from solicitors office and you will then be contacted by complaints team who will ensure the required action is taken - simples!

Thanks Peter the above is appreciated! I’ll see what transpires when i’m back in a few weeks, but may well come to that!

This looks like a wider policy issue within the UC Service Centres i.e. denying claimants their basic rights to challenge decisions, that i would like to see eradicated, not the ideal time with the tumultuous stuff going on upcountry, to ask MP to erm! Because we and client’s shouldn’t have to resort to ‘notice before action’ everytime a MR is lodged.

Andyp5 Citizens Advice Bridport & District
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Well the backdating finally decided MR application and the LCW MR application was decided in record time i.e. 14 days. Both refused, but nonetheless etc etc!

DWP complaints resolution dept still holding to the line that a ‘The mandatory reconsideration process requires a conversation to explain the decision’?

Chrissum
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Revisiting this thread - just had almost the reverse situation - client has had her PIP payments stopped. The first time she knew about this was her payment was stopped. She ‘phones up to find out why - she is told it is because on renewal she has been found to be no longer entitled to the enhanced rates of both components (despite their still being time left on her award). Client argues that her condition has deteriorated not improved as the decision would suggest and asks to challenge the decision. The case manager says she can’t as she hasn’t had her letter yet telling her she is no longer entitled, despite them knowing that the decision has been made and them already having stopped her payments. PIP say she was written to and they will re-issue the letter but she can’t challenge the decision until she has seen this letter. She was told this twice as she rang again to specifically request a mandatory reconsideration in case this was a one-off piece of misinformation. She now knows that decision has been made and PIP know that as well as they made the decision.
So the decision has been implemented before the client has been officially informed but she’s not allowed to challenge that decision because she hasn’t been told about it in writing. She has, however, been told orally why her payments have stopped. (More bruises on head appear).
Is this refusal to accept the MR from guidance or just another unnecessary barrier to challenging a decision?

IanP
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<<Is this refusal to accept the MR from guidance or just another unnecessary barrier to challenging a decision?>>
Not official guidance but possibly a verbal instruction that’s going around. I’ve had several clients lately who said they were informed of (ESA) decisions over the phone and not in writing, and who requested MR over the phone only to be told “we don’t accept a MR requests over the phone”, and, “you now HAVE TO claim UC because you’re fit for work” (some have).  One client called twice to request MR and was first sent a copy of the medical assessment and then a copy of an earlier decision already under appeal. When I called to request MR of the decision notified by phone, I was told they had “been instructed by senior management” not to accept MRs by phone. Now whilst this could have been one call centre employee inventing a story to try and disguise his mistake, it is also possible there’s a basis of truth.