The Countess of Mar tabled a question that asked if the Government was taking steps to ensure that tribunal judges in Work Capability Assessment (WCA) cases give written determinations, for the benefit of appellants, Atos and the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP); and if so, what progress has been made so far.
This answer from Lord McNally, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, was scheduled for yesterday (29 January 2013).
The First-tier Tribunal – Social Security and Child Support (SSCS), adminstered by Her Majesty's Courts and Tribunals Service, hears appeals against the DWP's decisions on entitlement to Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), decisions in which the WCA is a key factor, rather than appeals against WCA decisions themselves.
The SSCS Tribunal issues a written determination to the appellant, the appellant's representative if they have one, and the First Tier Agency who made the original decision, either on the day of the hearing or shortly afterwards. The format for Tribunals' decisions is a matter for the judiciary. However, new arrangements were put in place in July 2012. These were agreed between the Chamber President and the DWP and allow a judge to provide feedback on their decision by selecting a statement from an agreed list. It is also open to both parties of the appeal to ask for a full statement of reasons for the decision.