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Forum Home  →  Discussion  →  Decision making and appeals  →  Thread

Volume of appeals

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Steve_h
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Is there any data on the amount of appeals in the system?
Or a comparison of the amount of appeals last year and the amount this year?

Dan_Manville
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Mike Hughes
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Very slow creep upwards I would guess as MRs build up in volume and the percentage not overturned and then challenged begins to rise. It does take a certain mental strength to wade through 15 to 20 minutes of “explanation” and still say “Well I’d like to appeal” having grasped that, much like appeal papers, if the explanation had had any positive aspects you weren’t about to hear them. 

I do think we need to be careful stressing the poor dears out. I have now come across two cases in two weeks where it was reported (graphically) that the DM was either “in tears” or “sobbing” because the claimant was adamant they did want to appeal.

“But don’t you understand, the WHOLE POINT of mandatory reconsiderations is to avoid appeals because they’re expensive, time-consuming and usually pro-claimant and wrong. Even government ministers know that.” Would love to know if that’s a new script given I’m aware of two appellants who’ve had that line now.

And yes, that was an actual quote from a DM to a client!!!

Does put me in mind of a fabulously futile attempt by DWP Bolton to recover an £80 overpayment and the judge observing that his petrol money from the Yorkshire Dales in his 4 by 4 probably cost more than that for the Tribunals Service and wondering if the PO would like to pay it for such an act of stupidity!!!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to this slow rise slowly turning into an avalanche.

SamW
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Mike Hughes - 03 February 2015 05:15 PM

Very slow creep upwards I would guess as MRs build up in volume and the percentage not overturned and then challenged begins to rise. It does take a certain mental strength to wade through 15 to 20 minutes of “explanation” and still say “Well I’d like to appeal” having grasped that, much like appeal papers, if the explanation had had any positive aspects you weren’t about to hear them. 

I do think we need to be careful stressing the poor dears out. I have now come across two cases in two weeks where it was reported (graphically) that the DM was either “in tears” or “sobbing” because the claimant was adamant they did want to appeal.

“But don’t you understand, the WHOLE POINT of mandatory reconsiderations is to avoid appeals because they’re expensive, time-consuming and usually pro-claimant and wrong. Even government ministers know that.” Would love to know if that’s a new script given I’m aware of two appellants who’ve had that line now.

And yes, that was an actual quote from a DM to a client!!!

Does put me in mind of a fabulously futile attempt by DWP Bolton to recover an £80 overpayment and the judge observing that his petrol money from the Yorkshire Dales in his 4 by 4 probably cost more than that for the Tribunals Service and wondering if the PO would like to pay it for such an act of stupidity!!!

Anyway, I’m looking forward to this slow rise slowly turning into an avalanche.

Is there a particular problem with the DWP in your area? We’ve had a few issues down here (e.g. verbal MR requests not being logged as such as the exact phrase ‘mandatory reconsideration’ was not used) but nothing to that extent. Certainly not DMs breaking down in tears!

IIRC the rather damning evidence given to parliament that was posted a couple of weeks back was from a JCP adviser in the Manchester region.

Do you think the management in that area are particularly brutal in imposing their targets?

Pete C
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We are also getting a steady increase in appeals, not the flood we had when ESA started (thank heaven) but an increase nevertheless.

1964
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Ditto here too.  Mainly ESA and PIP.

Ben E Fitz
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“I do think we need to be careful stressing the poor dears out. I have now come across two cases in two weeks where it was reported (graphically) that the DM was either “in tears” or “sobbing” because the claimant was adamant they did want to appeal.”

Probably realised they would now be obliged to justify their “decision making” at Tribunal!

What a shame!!! (Not!)

Dan_Manville
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I’ve been skeptical of the “explanation” process being a direct attempt to deter people from appealing although I was happy that it was a rathe rmore oblique approach.

However it happened to one of my clients a few days ago; said client is rather daunted by Tribunal proceedings due to an unrelated matter (involving 4 hearings so far) and the DM providing the explanation told her that “you’re going to have to go through all that again!” which has thoroughly put her off pursuing what to my mind is an entirely winnable appeal.

If she does decide to pursue it I will be seeking a copy of the conversation…

Carol Laidlaw
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I was at a GMWRAG (Greater Manchester Welfare Rights Advisers Group) meeting last year when we had two DWP officials as invited speakers. They were most put out at hearing that some welfare rights advisers were advising claimants to decline a telephoned explanation of the decision, but to ask for a written explanation. After seeing their reaction and hearing their comments, I am now firmly of the opinion that the only purpose of the phone call is to discourage claimants from going on to make an appeal after the MR. At the time I was already advising clients that they don’t need to accept an ‘explanation’ by telephone. Now I tell them that the telephone call is intended to discourage them from appealing and to pay it little attention.

Mike Hughes
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I think DMs fall into 2 categories. There are those for whom I have little doubt there is an intent to deny appeal rights. I don’t say that as a direct criticism. There is an overall policy intention to reduce/end appeal rights and the way that manifests itself can be seen in all parts of the process from “informal” reconsiderations before MR; the lack of 2 MR notices; the willingness to make the appeal form as inaccessible as possible; the willingness to strike out non-compliant appeals at the drop of a comma and so on. I’m sure many of the DMs making these calls see their blatant denial of appeal rights as no more than the living embodiment of the policy intent. The growth of anecdotal evidence suggesting these calls are often shouty; distressing; often wholly inaccurately recorded and so on is nothing to the point.

The reality is that even if the call were to be exemplary in every possible respect there is only ever going to be 1 outcome in most cases when a claimant hears 15 to 20 minutes of reasons why their MR has failed and a couple of sentences about their appeal rights.

I’m not sure we should therefore be distracted by individual attitudes. The key issue is that these phone calls do indeed need to stop. That’s the campaigning issue.

Edmund Shepherd
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Anecdotally, today I requested a reconsideration of a December PIP disallowance decision. The way it was put was “It was more than 30 days ago, so you’re out of time so you can just reclaim”. I raised the possibility of a late request for reconsideration and the operator agreed to put it to a case manager. He did not ask for reasons for lateness so I volunteered these.

I’m not very happy with the discouragement to challenge a decision, wherever it’s coming from.  It is entirely possible to neutrally present the facts and give appeal rights. I do it and so can DWP. Some people are genuinely happy with a refusal and accept the reasons, some are not. Those who are not should feel they are doing something wrong by challenging a decision, which is how it feels.

I hope this comes up in a report.

Mike Hughes
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Manchester TUG on Monday suggested North West volume of appeals in per month is running at 50% of their peak. Having checked back on previous TUG stats I think this was incorrect and they’re actually running at around 1/8th of that which kind of puts things into perspective. What was noticeable was the complete lack of depth to the stats. in comparison to previous TUGs e.g. data on throughput and broken down by benefit. Equally noticeable was the lack of a mention of cuts in numbers. We all know clerks are moving into the Court Service and judges jumping jurisdictions. Numbers of appeals don’t reduce without staff numbers following and yet there was no discussion on this. Fascinating.

John Birks
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TBH I thought the idea of sobbing DMs was a bit OTT.


However, I terminated a call from a DM who I advised I was finding it difficult to help as they were barking orders at me and telling me EXACTLY what will happen at a tribunal and EXACTLY what a judge can and cannot do and how the PO will deal with the hearing.

Clearly they do not wish to lose the appeal.


“Power is like being a lady… if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.”

Margaret Thatcher


Mike Hughes
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John Birks - 13 February 2015 10:07 AM

TBH I thought the idea of sobbing DMs was a bit OTT.

I’m not sure the circumstances should ever arise on here whereupon a quote from Thatcha (c. Spitting Image) should be the first port of call :)

I know what you mean though John, but having two separate clients tell me this, in two different weeks, in circumstances where every other aspect of what they were telling me was credible, painted a picture for me. I’ve since heard a PWRO vividly describe being shouted at by a DM and the anecdotes are clearly building up at a rate of knots across the country. Given what we know about the culture in such places is it really that much of a surprise? We all react differently to pressure, targets and so on.

Last night I suffered an hour on the train between Sheffield and Manchester of someone working in a call centre bemoaning to a colleague the fact that someone they worked with and had little respect for had been nominated for a national award and how this reflected badly on the real, meaningful, life-changing activities undertaken by other colleagues. They were openly distressed, swearing, putting their head in their hands and so on. I openly admit I couldn’t connect those terms to work in a call centre but it did serve to reiterate the butterfly effect and that what we often find inconsequential is genuinely meaningful in context.

The context for this at present is I find myself not only taking calls from clients who say some DMs gave the appearance of being genuinely distressed but also taking calls from those staff dealing with complaints I’ve raised.

These calls are on the verge of bizarre. They go on far too long; they talk to reps. as though they are claimants who literally know nothing and they have an undertone of paranoia in the sense that they almost don’t want to end the call unless you’re upset by it. The person calling seems to utterly lack any kind of self awareness as to how they’re coming across and they effectively treat the person they’re calling as a child. I think it says as much about the culture of their organisation as stupid sanctions; DWP press releases attacking claimants; tales of DMs sobbing/shouting and so on. It’s ALL OTT but I doubt much of is it untrue.

Tom H
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Beware a new scam where despite hanging up on him the DM takes advantage of flawed BT technology and stays on the line for a few minutes, even playing a false ring tone, so that when you immediately phone your client you are shocked to hear the following: “I’ve had a change of heart, withdraw that recon for me would you?  Sorry, I’ve got to dash, got a couple of job interviews to attend.  See ya” 

“I HAVE THE POWERRRR”

He-Man.

Tom H
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Mike Hughes - 13 February 2015 10:45 AM

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Last night I suffered an hour on the train between Sheffield and Manchester..

I wouldn’t knock it Mike.  A few nights ago on a Metro between Monument and Gateshead Stadium I overheard a woman say that she only bought her frozen sausages at either Farm Foods or Iceland as nowhere else got close.  I kid you not.  For Camus it was football but I can honestly say I’ve learned more about life using public transport than anything else.  Mind, I’m aware that given my age Thatcher would have regarded me as a complete failure.