A DWP minister singled out for “flippancy” over the benefit cap has confirmed the recruitment of 150 ‘Presenting Officers’ to assist ESA and PIP appeal tribunals.
Justin Tomlinson was responding to a written Parliamentary question from Labour’s Sir Mark Hendrick on what steps the DWP was taking reduce the number of successful claims that go through the tribunal appeal process.
Tomlinson acknowledged that at the tribunals the claimant’s oral evidence is often decisive with new written evidence also having an impact.
“In order to further understand this, we have recruited 150 Presenting Officers, for ESA and PIP appeals, who, aside from helping tribunals reach the right decision, are feeding back their observations to decision makers and assessment providers.
“These valuable insights will help inform future decision making,” said Tomlinson.
“Our intention is to work with stakeholders to review the mandatory reconsideration process, including exploring what might help us to gather any further evidence earlier in the process so that we can revise decisions before they reach tribunal, where appropriate.
“It is a complex area and we want to get it right, so our first priority will be to listen so that we can identify what changes might have the greatest impact,” he said.
In damning report on the benefit cap released just over a week ago, the Work and Pensions Committee singled Tomlinson out for his “flippant” claim that claimants avoided the cap by renegotiating rent or taking in a lodger.