Amid the avalanche of welfare reforms being implemented by a government intent on reducing the benefits bill by £18bn, one controversial measure that seems to have fallen below the radar is a change to the appeals process for welfare benefit claimants.
There are fears that the change, which will deny people the right to appeal decisions about sickness and disability benefits until the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has first reconsidered their case, could leave claimants penniless. Moreover, its introduction, just as legal aid is abolished for many welfare benefit cases, could leave thousands of vulnerable people unable to access the law to secure the income they are entitled to. The double whammy has been attacked as “a disgrace and a scandal”.
The revised appeals process, called “mandatory reconsideration”, will be applied to anyone who, from October, fails the controversial work capability assessment (WCA) and wants to challenge the decision to deny them sickness benefits.