Recently, there has been some confusion in the press regarding the number of benefit claim decisions for Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) that are overturned at appeal. While figures quoted by Atos Healthcare suggest that just 8 per cent of benefit decisions are reversed, one publication recently reported that as many as 70 per cent of contested claims have been overturned.
An independent website – Fullfacts.org – has now reviewed the statistical evidence available to clarify how many benefit claim decisions, of which one element of the information used is the Work Capability Assessments carried out by Atos Healthcare on behalf of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), are overturned at appeal. This website has awarded the Atos Healthcare figure of 8 per cent an accuracy rating of 4 out of 5. Please read on for more.
Last month, a reader’s letter to a leading newspaper estimated that 70 per cent of Employment Support Allowance (ESA) benefit decisions made by the DWP are overturned at appeal.
As Atos Healthcare carry out Work Capability Assessments on behalf of the DWP, an Atos spokesperson responded to the claim, noting that official DWP figures show that just 8 per cent of DWP benefit decisions, of which the report produced by Atos Healthcare is part of the information used in the decision making process, are later reversed.
How many benefit claim decisions are overturned?
Fullfacts.org recently carried out an investigation to determine whether 8 per cent or 70 per cent of benefit claims decisions have been overturned.
The independent website noted that official DWP figures show that:
• 1,176,600 people applied for Employment Support Allowance (ESA), between October 2008 and August 2010.
• 181,900 of these applicants appealed the DWP’s fit for work decision.
• 69,800 of these cases (or 5.93 per cent of the original 1,176,600 applicants) were successful in their attempts to have a benefits claim decision overturned.
However, Fullfacts.org added that 36 per cent of applications are not completed and in those cases an assessment is not undertaken. By excluding these applications, the figure for successful appeals rises slightly – to 9.33 per cent.
As a result, the independent organisation has awarded the Atos Healthcare figure of 8 per cent an accuracy rating of 4 out of 5.
While Fullfacts.org’s independent analysis confirmed that just 9.33 per cent of benefit claim decisions have been overturned between October 2008 and August 2010, the organisation also noted that the suggested figure of 70 per cent is likely to have been derived from statistics published by Citizens Advice Scotland in May 2010.
Citizens Advice Scotland did not claim that 70 per cent of appeals against decisions made about ESA claims were successful. They instead stated that in 70 per cent of cases in which their organisation represented a customer at a tribunal, claimants won their appeals.
The number of decisions overturned on appeal is therefore much lower than 70 per cent.
For more information about the part that Atos Healthcare plays in the Employment and Support Allowance process, please see our earlier blog posts about what to expect before, during and after your work capability assessment, and our blog on how to access your report.
Tags: Atos, Atos Healthcare, benefit decisions appealed, benefit decisions overturned, Citizens Advice Scotland, Department for Work and Pensions, DWP, Employment and Support Allowance, Employment Support Allowance, ESA/WCA, fit to work benefit decisions, Fullfacts.org, Work Capability Assessment Report