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Thursday, 24 November 2016

MoJ consultation on panel composition in tribunals deadline 24 Nov 2016

As noted previously in our KUWG Diary for last week, today is the deadline for a Ministry of Justice consultation on the future of tribunals.
CONSULTATION DEADLINE: Thu 24 Nov Transforming Our Justice System: Panel Composition in Tribunals by Ministry of (in)Justice, who plan to digitalise benefit appeals so claimants won’t be seen in person by the judge or expert panel members (i.e. doctors present at tribunals). This will lessen our chances to win appeals. Nip it in the bud! https://www.theguardian.com/society/2016/oct/12/online-benefits-appeals-tribunals-disabled?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other Consultation itself: https://consult.justice.gov.uk/digital-communications/panel-composition-in-tribunals/
Here follows how Dude Swheatie completed the online consultation.

7. Do you agree that the SPT [Senior President of Tribunals] should be able to determine panel composition based on the changing needs of people using the tribunal system?

Answer: No

Reasons stated
I won my ESA (Support) status through tribunal as part of a very long process that included decades of attempted career building after five years' seamless but unfulfilling salaried employment in which I received disablist bullying on a regular basis. Therefore my standpoint regarding what is appropriate and who should decide what is appropriate differs considerably from think tank Reform UK and its associates who are pushing for 'transformations' to both the welfare state and justice system in the UK that render economically vulnerable people all the more vulnerable.

Tribunal panels for disability benefit entitlements generally favour the claimant/apellant over the Department for Work & Pensions, and this factor embarasses both Government and privatisation-of-welfare-state corporations that are playing with others' lives. Tribunal results so far have countered the policy-based evidence-gathering of the privatisers of the welfare state. (Since this consultation was launched and very shortly before it's deadline, a further DWP 'welfare reform' consultation has been launched.)

My tribunal panel consisted of a judge and doctor and an advocate spoke for me while I was shaking with nerves. My disability charity-based advocate had been far more perceptive than the mental health charity-based Vocational Support Advisor (VSA) who had led me through the intial ESA50 form filling that had concluded with 0 eligibility points. At our first meeting identified my much slower than average speech delivery and though patterns and got me to rewrite my ESA50 with a focus on those than the secondary physical symptoms experienced when under stress.

Tribunal advocate's analysis was later expounded and substantiated by Camden Learning Disability Services (CLDS)-based tests, and insights of more than one mind had helped bring me to apply for ESA and get CLDS analysis. Those meetings had included
  • late 2008 jobcentre 'progress review' meeting with jobcentre worker and VSA. Jobcentre worker had intervened in crisis brought on by missing first 2005 signing-on appointment while I was awaiting result of pre-Christmas job interview
  • consultation with GP, her receptionist and my VSA. GP's receptionist vouched for council learning disability services' support that had helped her severely learning disabled son overcome 0 eligibility points rating from unproperly qualified disability assessors.

8. In order to assist the SPT to make sure that appropriate expertise is provided following the proposed reform, which factors do you think should be considered to determine whether multiple specialists are needed to hear individual cases?

Please state your reasons and specify the jurisdictions and/or types of case to which these factors refer.

I concur with the charity Zacchaeus 2000 (Z2K) when they write in response to this question
"... the appropriate expertise in all disability cases is the current tribunal composition. We recommend that the Ministry of Justice mandate the SPT to continue to include a healthcare professional and disability expert on panels for disability benefit appeals."
Crucially,  organisations such as Z2K and Kilburn Unemployed Workers Group are left to help economically people 'pick up the pieces' after injustices have been done to them. Such organisations have theoretical sensitivity and human understanding that is severely lacking in those that regard the current inputs to tribunal panel composition as unnecessary costs to the public purse and counter to the privatisation of the welfare state that favours the American model of private health insurance. Perhaps drugs with the scale of failures exposed by current workings of disability benefit test regimes would have been barred from sale by now? "Those who give the order [do the initial dodgy assessments] seldom see the mess it makes."
I also note that all 'key decision makers' should realise that 'welfare reform' agendas have so far been conducted to the exclusion of reference to disabled people who were actively jobseeking long before the drive to eliminate the Incapacity Benefit safety net.

(My answers to the section about Impact and Equalities Impact Assessments are not included here.)

Dude Swheatie of Kwug

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