Judges to explain benefit assessment decisions

Disabled man at work The government will look at the judges' explanations over the summer

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Judges in England and Scotland are being asked to explain why they believe someone is unfit to work, in a move ministers hope will improve the decision-making process on benefits.

Tribunals in London, Liverpool, Glasgow and Birmingham will offer feedback when they overturn rulings on employment and support allowance (ESA) on appeal.

Critics of the test used to determine eligibility claim it is flawed.

But ministers say 85% of decisions have been upheld on appeal since 2008.

'Learn lessons'

All those in receipt of ESA - formerly known as incapacity benefit - and new applicants are having their claims reviewed in a process begun by the last Labour government and accelerated by the coalition.

The Work Capability Assessment conducted by private contractor Atos has proved controversial, with campaigners saying that it has made too many wrong decisions which are overturned on appeal.

The explanations provided by the judges will be analysed by the Department for Work and Pensions over the summer.

Work and pensions minister Esther McVey said: "With recent changes to disability benefits we need to make sure the appeals process is transparent and working well.

"We will use this information to learn lessons and improve the standard of decision-making and appeals processes. It will also be helpful for claimants to understand why an appeal has been allowed or dismissed."

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