The government is considering charging people who appeal against the decision to withdraw their benefits
A leaked Department for Work and Pensions document obtained by The Guardian said the “introduction of a charge for people making appeals against decisions to social security tribunals” would be one possibility of raising money.
The newspaper cited figures showing that nearly 900,000 people had their benefits terminated in the last year, the highest figure for any 12 month period since jobseekers allowance was brought in 18 years ago.
Rachel Reeves, the shadow work and pensions secretary, accused the government of presiding over a “broken” benefits system. She said that 58 per cent of appeals against DWP decisions to withdraw jobseekers allowance are upheld.
Figures from the DWP show that one in five recommendations by the Atos firm that suggest benefit recipients are fit for work are overturned at appeal. DWP say the 'one in five' figure comes with a caveat: that often more information is being presented at appeal than they were originally party to.
Disability minister Mike Penning last week told MPs the scale of appeals - around 600,000 since its introduction - meant there was “real concern” about the work being carried out. The new proposals are particularly worrying given that anyone wanting to appeal a decision that they are fit to work first has to have all their paperwork looked at again, while receiving no sickness benefits. The Citizens Advice Bureau believes this will result in thousands of people being wrongly forced to survive on no income at all.
Critics said the proposals would hit the poor hardest and would greatly reduce the number of appeal tribunals.
A group of 27 bishops attacked the Coalition on Wednesday for cuts to the welfare system. Failures in the benefits system and a “punitive” set of Government cutbacks to welfare have left Britain with a food poverty “national crisis”, according to the group of church leaders.