7 August 2017

CPAG wins Upper Tribunal case on late MR refusals by DWP

Last week, the Upper Tribunal ruled in a test case brought by Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG), that the DWP’s current process for dealing with late mandatory reconsideration (MR) requests is unlawful.

Under current rules, in place since 2013, where a claimant wishes to challenge a DWP benefit decision, there is a requirement to apply for a mandatory reconsideration before appealing to an independent tribunal. MR requests must be made normally within 1 month. Claimants can ask for a late MR up to 13 months from the original decision and it will be allowed only if certain criteria is met. DWP’s position was that where someone asked for a late MR and they decided not to allow it, there was no right of appeal to an independent Tribunal. It was on this point that CPAG took a test case to the Upper Tribunal.

In R(CJ) and SG v Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (2017) UKUT 0324 (AAC) the panel of three judges stated that where a person is late requesting a MR and DWP responds by saying that the application is late and doesn’t meet the criteria for extending the time limit, claimants will have a statutory right of appeal to the First-tier Tribunal.

It is not yet clear whether DWP will appeal this decision. HMRC have similar mandatory reconsideration processes in place for tax credits and child benefit and whilst this decision only relates to DWP it is certainly open to advisers and claimants to challenge HMRC’s refusal of late MR requests on the same grounds by referring to this test case (pending any further challenge by DWP to the Upper Tribunal decision).

CPAG’s press release regarding the case can be found on their website