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Wednesday, 16 November 2011

ESA Decision Appeals heard by Tribunal Service (2)

Following on from my previous blog, the same report states that about 2/3rds of TS reversals are because the TS was presented with additional information.  DWP will of course use this in an attempt to explain that the high reversal rate is not down to poor decision making.  However, they will not so readily admit that the report also states:
“The 65% figure for the production of additional evidence suggests that an important source of information is being overlooked in the decision-making process. There continues to be a tendency on the part of decision-makers to discount oral evidence received from the appellant in the process of evidence gathering prior to the decision and then in the preparation of the appeal, and not to seek out new evidence to verify the facts where the decision has been challenged. Where a decision is challenged it is the duty of the decision-maker to review the initial decision, satisfy themselves that the facts are correct, ensure that there is no further evidence that might lead to a review and where they do not accept evidence or doubt it explain why, making this explicit in the submission to the tribunal.”
One would imagine that in the interests of effective staff performance management, DWP collates TS outcomes by Decision Maker as the basis for re-training etc. but NOT SO.  The strong and clear recommendation above has just been ignored for the past 2 years!!!
I have also asked DWP what disciplinary action would be taken against an experienced DM who ignored an important, relevant and readily available piece of information when making their decision and the answer is none, but based on the obviously false premise that the training is so good and instructions are so rigorously followed that this could not really happen – purely hypothetical therefore.  If you then refer to the TS reversal rate, DWP does not consider that it reflects poorly on DM’s – talk about burying your head in the sand!!!
The management here is so demonstrably poor it amounts to a dereliction of duty. 
Teresa May has demonstrated this week (albeit over zealously and therefore to our cost) that the Government can take swift action with poor performers on the payroll, so why not here too?
The DMs do not appreciate (and probably don’t care) about the devastating effect their decisions can have on people’s lives.  No one would begrudge them the odd mistake, but the wholesale, overt bias in what they are doing is unforgivable and they should be brought to account accordingly.

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