UK benefits system not fit for purpose, warns SNP

The UK Government spent more than £120 million on benefit and child support claimant appeal tribunals last year, sparking accusations the welfare system is “not fit for purpose”.

Figures obtained by the SNP through freedom of information laws show the Government spent £121.5 million on social security and child support tribunals in 2017/18, up 15% on the previous year.

Official statistics show of the 51,256 appeal disposals in the quarter up to December 2018, 41,171 (80%) were cleared at hearing.

Of these, 70% were found in favour of the claimant – an increase of 5% on 2016/17.

This overturn rate varied by benefit type, with Employment Support Allowance (ESA) at 74%, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) at 73%, Disability Living Allowance at 66% and Universal Credit at 58%.

A UK Government spokeswoman said more would be done to gather the evidence “to make sure that we make the right decision earlier”.

SNP MSP Bob Doris said: “These figures are deeply concerning and expose a system which is systematically hostile towards people who need support the most.

“The grim reality is that the Tories are letting the most vulnerable people in our society down first.

“Mismanagement such as this is driving more and more people to food banks – something which DWP (Department for Work and Pensions) ministers have finally admitted to, but done nothing to fix.

“It’s becoming clearer every day that the Tory Government’s current welfare system is simply not fit for purpose.”

The UK Government spokeswoman said: “Millions of benefit decisions have been made and of these only a very small proportion are overturned at appeal – 5% for PIP and 4% for ESA.

“But we want to ensure the benefits system is the ally of disabled people and we will do more to gather the evidence we need to make the right decision earlier.”

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