Benefits appeal system ‘a shambles’

BULWELL Labour MP Graham Allen has slammed the appeals system for benefit claims as a “shambles”.

Information received by Mr Allen from the Tribunals Service shows that the average waiting time for Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) appeals now stands at 57 weeks.

Mr Allen said: “At the beginning of the year I wrote to the then Justice Secretary concerned about the long delays which were between 40 and 52 weeks.

“I was assured that extra resources were being drafted in to bring times down. However, I am shocked to hear from the Tribunals Service that waits have actually gone up to an unacceptable 57 weeks average.

“I have written to Chris Grayling expressing my deep concern at this. These are all individual people who are being forced to wait for their money, so many unjustifiably so. They can’t not eat or delay payment of bills for 57 weeks.

“The system is a shambles. It is impossible to see why a company which gets so much so wrong so often and costs the taxpayer an estimated £60 million in appeals should get another contract.

“The promise of extra resources to bring down waiting times has proved to be just another con. The exact opposite has actually happened and once again it’s the poor and vulnerable who suffer.”

The French firm Atos Healthcare, which has been appointed to help the DWP decide on whether a person is entitled to benefits, has received widespread condemnation for the way it carries out assessments.