Benefit tales

A new army of ‘presenting officers’ is to help the Department of Work and Pensions at benefit tribunals, while the disabled person making the appeal is left to struggle alone

It’s now hard to miss the numerous stories of inept disability benefit rejections. But to really grasp how the government is stacking the odds against disabled people applying for benefits, it’s worth turning your eye to what is being done to the benefit appeals system.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has been allocated £22m of public money to hire new “presenting officers” to “support” it at disability benefit tribunals. Disability campaigners warn that these 180 presenting officers, rather than helping judges to make fair decisions about whether to overturn the DWP’s rejection of someone’s claim for benefits, will inevitably argue as forcibly as possible in the government’s favour.

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