The Appeals Service is crap. Without revealing any names, I went to a tribunal today with a client who was refused Disability Living Allowance (DLA) at the middle rate of the care component and the lower rate of the mobility component.
Now, ordinarily we do not represent clients at tribunal, simply because we don’t have the Community Legal Service Quality Mark at Level 3, only at Level 2. But in this case, repeated attempts to request a postponement so that we can gather more evidence and refer to the Free Representation Unit for a representative were not granted, and in the end, they indicated that the decision to postpone would be made at the tribunal hearing.
After it took 2 hours to get there this afternoon for a 3pm hearing, we discovered that the BSL/English Interpreter hadn’t turned up, and the Clerk had been trying to ring both my client and I (even though we’re both Deaf) to tell us that we do not need to attend the hearing as the tribunal panel had decided to consider the decision on the papers submitted. They decided to award the client with MR care and LR mobility. So that was a complete waste of time, even though we’d achieved the desired result.
If the DWP had made the correct decision in the first place, if the Appeals Service had granted a postponement or at least had the common sense to actually contact Deaf people in the correct manner, then it wouldn’t have been such a waste of time! This week was meant to be my catch-up week, but because of the incompetence of the DWP/Appeals Service, I ended up having to give up an afternoon of casework work.