PCS shares the concerns raised in a report that shows the Department for Work and Pensions sets a target to turn down the vast majority of benefit appeals.
The report in the Daily Mirror says staff are set targets to reject 80% of Mandatory Reconsiderations (MRs) – internal reviews people must go through if their claims for welfare are rejected – before they can launch a full appeal.
And a DWP response to a Freedom of Information request published this week shows that staff exceeded this 'key performance indicator' between April 2016 and March 2017 after rejecting 87% of claims.
The Mirror reports that the government has faced calls to scrap MRs because they are far less likely to succeed than an independent tribunal.
Claimants of one benefit, Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), won just 20% of MRs from October 2013 to April 2016. Yet 47% of those who went to a full tribunal won their case.
For Personal Independence Payment (PIP) the gap is even starker, as shown in a report earlier this month which said that about 65% of all cases that reach a tribunal are overturned, compared to 18% reversed of all those at mandatory reconsideration.
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: “PCS shares the concerns raised by this report. DWP’s assertion that this is about assuring the accuracy of decisions does not stand up to scrutiny. Our members making the original decisions are under pressure to churn out numbers with little regard to accuracy or fairness of the decision.
“The 80% target is not used to make sure that 4 out of 5 decisions are correct, but is used to put pressure on people carrying out the Mandatory Reconsideration to simply ‘rubber stamp’ the original decision. The fact that the DWP continues to lose many of the cases that are considered independently by the appeal tribunal, shows that it continues to fail vulnerable people who should be receiving benefit payments.”