Citizens Advice Maidenhead and Windsor is here to help residents of the Royal Borough with benefits tribunals.
If you have had a claim rejected for Personal Independence Payments (PIP), or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), the first stage of the appeals process is a Mandatory Reconsideration (MR). Most cases are unchanged at MR, and so have to go forward to tribunal. At tribunal most of the appeals we assist with are overturned, often resulting in radically different scores and awards for our clients. These figures indicate that there is a serious systemic problem with the initial assessment and MR processes. One of the main difficulties facing our clients at the assessment stage is the manner, and often the costs, of having appropriate medical evidence provided by their GPs.
Proposals to move tribunals to an online only system may create more problems. Citizens Advice is concerned that the success rate of appeals may be reduced as face-to-face appeals give way to online processes. Furthermore, since the closure of Maidenhead Magistrates Court our clients are obliged to go to Reading or High Wycombe for tribunals, and we are concerned about the facilities provided there.
Citizens Advice is committed to raising awareness of this issue at ministerial level, and your local office at Maidenhead is playing its part by supporting the national body in its drive for reform of the PIP and ESA assessment system.
For free, confidential, independent and impartial advice call us on 03444 111 444 or visit www.maidenheadcab.org.uk. As well as hosting a drop-in service in Maidenhead (open 10 am to 3.30 pm Mon, Tue, Wed and Fri) or at Dedworth (Wed am), Woodlands Park (Fri am) or Datchet (monthly). Full details of opening hours and services at www.maidenheadcab.org.uk. We also offer home visiting services to the housebound.